Cold Brew Coffee is Hot Trend

May 8, 2016

Confluence Coffee is a relatively new Virginia-based company selling ready-to-drink cold brew coffee.
Credit Mallory Noe-Payne/WVTF

Temperatures are starting to rise, and that may mean it’s time to trade in your hot cup of coffee in the morning for something different.

Cold brew coffee is a quickly growing sector of the caffeine marketplace, and a new company in Virginia is finding a way to cash in. 

Americans are addicted to coffee. It’s big business, 30 billion a year. But one hot part of that market is actually on ice.

Sales of cold brew coffee boomed last year. According to consumer research firm Mintel, they were up 115-percent from the year before.

Cold brew is coffee that’s never been hot. The coffee beans are steeped under refrigeration for up to 24 hours.

In Richmond, Mike Woitach and Terry Darcy have started their own company, making a name for themselves in this quickly growing industry. It’s called Confluence Coffee and they started in April, 2015.

Woitach is in charge of sales. His partner, Darcy is the recipe-master.

“I started working at a brewery, and they do a lot of oak-infused aging beers and we started, Mike and I, playing around with that with our cold brew and then it just kind of took off from there,” says Darcy.

To stand out, their product comes ready to drink, in a can. It’s also nitrogen infused, for a smoother flavor.

The National Coffee Association estimates only 15-percent of coffee drinkers have tried cold brew before. That means this young and lean Virginia-based company is poised to be a big player in a market full of potential.

“We’re doing around 500 gallons of production a week, so around 5,000 cans a week and we distribute that mostly in cans but we also do kegs,” says Darcy. 

Terry Darcy (left) and Mike Woitach started Confluence a year ago.

Confluence Coffee is one of only a handful of companies that size in the region. You can find their cans on shelves from New Jersey to Ohio, even in Whole Foods, says Woitach.

“As a market, people are starting to learn what cold brew is and they’re starting to see the benefits of drinking and the convenience of drinking it without losing quality of the coffee, so I think it’s going to continue to grow,” says Woitach.

Cold brew packs a punch, it has more caffeine that works its way to your system faster, but with a taste smoother than your traditional cup of iced coffee. Contributing to that taste is carefully selected beans from another Richmond company, Blanchard’s.

It was at Blanchard’s roasting facilities that I got the chance to taste some of Confluence Coffee’s drinks, including a mocha flavor.

“We honestly think the coffee beans that we get from Blanchard’s are just phenomenal and they really don’t need any sugar so we took it out, we infused it with those cocoa nibs,” says Darcy.

The two hope to release a different seasonal product every three months, beginning this summer with an orange-infused flavor.