Consumer ​Crossover Opportunity​: Breweries & Coffee

A few years ago, I was in Austin, Texas working on a piece for Brewer about sales reps and what they do in a business day. (We followed Austin Beerworks‘ Nick Pugliese, who is now with Bell’s Brewery.)

While there, I explored other breweries to talk with and stopped at Hops & Grain in the morning. There, I was asked if I would like a cup of coffee. Sure, I said and assumed Bob would grab something from the breakroom pot.

Nope, the brewery was serving coffee in the morning and beer in the afternoon and evening. It was a new concept to me at the time, but one I see more and more now.

Taking that a step further, breweries have begun either partnering with coffee roasters or just roasting themselves. (Check out Jason Simmons of Lindgren Craft Brewery’s great piece he wrote for us.)

Foothills Brewing is one such brewery that has added equipment and a veteran master roaster to the staff.

Jamie Bartholomaus, the president and co-founder of the Winston-Salem, North Carolina brewery, said there is some additional licensing — but working with the FDA and following the rules and guidelines for coffee roasting is not super stringent.

“[It’s a] pretty large crossover,” Bartholomaus said of the type of consumer the brewery is targeting. “Most people who drink craft beer prefer high-quality coffee as well.”

The brewery did not have to find additional space, since Foothills had room in its 38,000 square foot facility. It did, however, need to purchase additional equipment. That included a roaster, bagger and sealer. The roaster is upstairs from the beer brewing operation. Bartholomaus said the FDA inspected the site and approved it.

“We’re getting into coffee slowly, making sure quality is No. 1 as we grow,” he said. “As we do more, we’ll add lab analysis for whole bean roasting — color analysis, sensory analysis, bacterial tests on cold brews and such.

“Bottom line, we want to make sure we’re doing things right and maximizing shelf life and quality.”

Eventually Foothills will need an additional mash tun for when it starts selling cold brew creations. A cold brew brewer will be hired to run that operation as well.

“Cold brew will be something we can capitalize on,” Bartholomaus said. “We can offer it online (sales and marketing beer is against the law in North Carolina).

“We’re also looking at coffee clubs and cross promotion marketing with grocery stores.”

​​Wachusett​ Brewing ​partner​s​ with a local coffee supplier, Red Barn Coffee Roasters, who work with ​the Massachusetts ​brewery ​when ​it develop​s​ coffee​-​forward concepts.

​”Coffee and beer definitely have an incredible synergy that they share,” said Christian McMahan, Wachusett’s president.

When the brewery started to develop its Latte Da Coffee Milk Stout, the team sat down with Red Barn and described what it was specifically looking for.

“We spent the next six months tasting different beans from all over the world and ended up selecting a farm and grower in Honduras who we buy the beans directly from,” McMahan said. “It’s rewarding to support a small coffee grower, almost similar to how consumers in the US support their local craft brewer.”

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