SAYAKA MATSUOKA | August 16, 2017
To some, summer tastes of sweet tea and lemonade against a backdrop of freshly cut grass. For others, the epitome of the season comes in the form of a summer tomato sandwich with juicy slivers tucked between slices of soft white bread. But for me, summer tastes like cherry, like tobacco, like citrus, and sometimes, like chocolate; it tastes like good cold brew coffee.
Slingshot Coffee Company in Raleigh, which is in its fifth year of operation, makes cold brew coffee and partners with Durham-based, globally recognized coffee stronghold Counter Culture Coffee. Last Friday, Slingshot took over Counter Culture’s weekly cupping—a tasting of various coffees open to the public—for an unexpected twist. While most cuppings involve the loud slurping of shots of espresso, this cooled-down version focused solely on Slingshot’s cold brews, pulling out nuances and flavor profiles that may go unnoticed when gulping down an iced coffee through a straw.
By mid-morning, over three dozen coffee enthusiasts had gathered at Counter Culture’s Durham headquarters to taste the collaborative cold brews. The first—and my favorite of the two samples—was brewed with Counter Culture’s La Golondrina beans from Colombia; it carried notes of chocolate and cherry. The second, a crowd favorite, came from Counter Culture’s Apollo coffee from Ethiopia, which left a more floral, citrusy flavor on the tongue. Both were incredibly smooth and refreshing, especially given the ninety-degree weather predicted for later in the day.
Unlike regular iced coffee, which is usually just strong coffee poured over ice, cold brew coffee is meticulously concocted. Born from a process of steeping grounds for anywhere from twelve to twenty-four hours, cold brew results in a rainbow of discernible flavors—much like a good wine, and without as much acidity as regular coffee.
For Slingshot founders Jenny and Jonathan Bonchak, creating quality cold brew isn’t a secret; it’s the complexity within the simplicity that results in their liquid magic. When asked about how they make their signature beverage, Jenny responds by simply saying that they use the best in-season beans, make sure to grind their coffee properly, and tweak the water's mineral content (apparently, a higher amount of minerals yields better flavor extraction). After all, it’s just beans and water—but when done right, it's a fit for any season.