In the specialty industry, you’ll frequently hear two words: “micro” and “fresh”. Freshly roasted microlots straight from the microroaster. Freshly ground coffee for a one-cup brewing device. But bottled cold brew is a whole new world.
Bottled cold brew is often made in factories, ready for distribution to hundreds of shops. While specialty cold brew is roasted and brewed fresh, Hatch Cold Brew Coffee has a shelf life of up to 180 days.
So how do they take high-quality specialty coffees and capture their unique flavor profiles on such a large scale and with such a long shelf life? Alfonso Tupaz, CEO & Founder of Hatch, invited me to his factory to find out.
Versión en Español: De la Semilla a la Botella: Detrás de Escena en una Fábrica de Cold Brew
Chalo’s Farm, one of Hatch’s Origin Cold Brew offerings. Credit: Brad Bauder
Meeting The Cold Brew Entrepreneurs
As I pulled up to the stylish red-brick Hatch Beverage Company, a thrill went through me. I couldn’t wait to see how Alfonso had set up his bottled cold brew factory. I already knew that the company had spent a year in plant development, unable to simply buy the setup they needed. Now I was about to discover the results.
Alfonso and Boris Lee, Hatch’s Roast Master, were waiting for me. After warm handshakes and hugs, I set out to discover more about what drove Alfonso to set up his own cold brew company.
He told me, “We started in beverage production. My dad was with Coca-Cola in West Africa, managing 18 facilities. [My family] are in packaging still: plastics, can making… and we have a glass factory and a label factory. As you can see, we come from high-speed manufacturing but decided to apply that knowledge and skill set to craft coffee.”
Expertise and passion is a promising combination, and I was keen to see the results. Let the tour begin…
Hatch’s HQ in Markham Ontario Canada. Credit: Brad Bauder
1. The Roastery
Our tour followed the route coffee takes through the Hatch factory, meaning we began in the roastery. It’s here that we would typically find Boris hard at work. He’s responsible for roasting Hatch’s three different coffees and blends, making sure that he brings out the best in each one.
This massive Hatch building was built during the ‘80s, and had to have some equally impressive renovations. One of those was the installation of a gleaming Loring Roaster. The crate it arrived in has since been repurposed and turned into an eye-catching coffee lab table.
After roasting, Boris allows the coffee to rest for a week before it’s sent to the brewing station. Since coffee is an organic product, it continues to age after roasting. Brew it too soon and it won’t have finished degassing; brew it too late and the flavors will be dull and faded.
Hatch’s Master Roaster, Boris Lee. Credit: Hatch Coffee
2. The Brewing Station
The freshly roasted and ground coffee is next sent to the brewing station. It’s here that the skill of the farmer, and the craft of the roaster, are revealed.
“Our primary focus is on what we call Origin Cold Brew Coffee,” Alfonso tells me. “We are also the first in North America to have a system to extend the shelf life of cold brew.”
But cold brew takes longer to extract than hot coffee. The ground coffee is placed in huge vats, along with cold water. These are wrapped in glycol cooling jackets, meaning Hatch can maintain a constant brewing temperature of 4°C (39.2°F). Then the coffee must remain there for a total of 20 hours.
“Brewers Alley” at Hatch Coffee. Credit: Brad Bauder
3. The Bottling & Treatment Station
Once the magic hour arrives, the cold brew is filtered and then moved through a closed system into Hatch’s proprietary treatment system. It’s a labyrinth of gleaming stainless steel pipes, and it’s also what the entire factory had to be build around.
Alfonso tells me, “For something that’s treated before filling, it’s so important to have a clean production line before filling.” That’s why they use a closed system, to prevent any possible contamination. Closed systems used to have to be cleaned manually, with workers dismantling the pipes to do so. Nowadays, however, factories like Hatch’s are able to use a “Clean-in-Place system” – much more efficient!
There’s an equal focus on sanitation at the automated bottling line. Each section is encapsulated in its own sterilized shell and maintains positive air pressure. The first section is what’s called an air rinse. It blows out any particles that might be in the bottle.
From there, the bottles move to a dry sterilization station. Alfonso tells me, his pride in his system evident, “I didn’t want chemicals to come into contact with the product, because coffee is 98% water. So if there’s any residual sanitizer in the bottle, you’ll taste it. Where no liquid sanitizer is used, it leaves nothing in the bottle.”
He adds, “One reason we decided to reach out into cold brew, is because of the real risk to the industry of someone getting sick.” A failure to clean and sanitize properly along the supply chain can have severe results.
Alfonso Tupaz, the Hatch founder. Credit: Alfonzo Tupaz
4. Bottle & Label Design
Although the bottles and labels are designed long before the coffee arrives for roasting, Alfonso left this part of the tour till last. It’s coffee before marketing. However, that doesn’t mean branding wasn’t an important decision for the team.
Alfonso describes his custom bottle design as “European and sleek”, telling me, “What we found was that, originally, a lot of cold brew was bottled in beer bottles. As a result, cold brew kind of followed that craft beer direction. Then they started using nitro, because that’s what happens with beer.”
“We decided that, with a bottled product, we can both highlight the origins and bring more origins to more customers in retail. We can highlight the farms, that’s our take. We look at it as being more like wine.”
Hatch’s current Origin Cold Brew offerings. Credit: Hatch
Similarly, Hatch wanted to do something different with their labels. Alfonso says, “I don’t know why, but for a while in North America, it seemed that there was a heavy focus on cold brew coffee being a very masculine thing. Even the branding behind it reflected this. For Hatch, we wanted our packaging design to be more gender-neutral, something that appeals to everyone.”
“Most importantly, we wanted it to focus more on the origin of the coffee and design. The reason we have the illustrations is that we’d like to have a local artist, from the coffee region, produce the illustration in the future.”
Just like with bags of specialty coffee, each label gives information about the origin and roast profile. Their single origin offering also gives gives the farm and farmer’s name. “The nice thing is, when we bring people here for sampling and tastings, we’ll show them these three offerings,” Alfonso says, “and they realize that there are taste differences between origins, even with cold brew.”
Information about the coffee’s origin on Hatch’s cold brew coffee bottles. Credit: Hatch
5. The Design Board
It may seem strange to end my factory tour with the place it all began – the design board – but this is because Alfonso wanted to finish by showing me his new product line: Cold Brew Tea.
It was an easy move for the company: it uses the exact same production process as cold brew coffee. “What’s marvelous is that we can use the entire process line from the Brewing Station onwards. We have four flavors coming out, and a canned cold brew coming out after that, so we have a very unique line up.”
So what does cold brew tea taste like? Well, there’s no added heat, which produces a mellower flavor. Alfonso reminded me that heating things up really does change the flavor, and this is especially true for teas because of the tannins.
Cold Brew Coffee vs Tea
Alfonso tells me, “We believe cold brew coffee is a trend that will continue to grow, especially as it reaches more people in Canada… and it seems like the natural progression of that is for people to start experimenting with teas.”
But if you thought proper sanitization was important for cold brew coffee, cold brew tea kicks it up a notch. “One of the things about bottling is the real concern associated with people not taking the microbiology aspect seriously – that is to say the growth of bacteria, importance of sanitizing bottles and so on. In fact, with coffee you have a lot less risk because you’re roasting the green beans, which kills everything off. With tea, it’s different!”
My final question to Alfonso was: will this new cold brew tea appeal to coffee lovers? Alfonso pauses before saying, “I believe it will augment the experience for them. It also depends on the person, and their mood, and consumption preference and occasion. For our cold brew tea, we wanted its appeal to be more open to a wider set of people, including those who might not be coffee drinkers or want something lighter.”
Hatch’s Cold Tea range. Credit: Hatch
I left Hatch highly caffeinated and understanding a lot more about the process of producing brewed coffee and tea on a large scale. It’s a different world to that of a brew bar or micro roastery, but it shares many of the same features: attention to detail, passion, and conveying to the end consumer the journey the coffee took from seed to bottle.
Written by Brad Bauder.
Please note: Hatch Beverages Ltd. is a sponsor of Perfect Daily Grind. This article was written by a Perfect Daily Grind writer, and Hatch Beverages Ltd. has had no greater influence on the final copy than any of our other interviewees.
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