Steve Ballantyne is a young social entrepreneur who’s betting big on cold brew coffee this summer by launching Station Cold Brew. As Ballantyne explained to me over a cup at the Centre For Social Innovation’s Annex campus, where he has his office, cold brew coffee uses time instead of heat to brew coffee from beans. Cold brew coffee has been a bit of a cult item to date, but he’s betting it’s ready for a broader market. Apart from the obvious environmental benefits of not using energy to make a cup of the stuff, cold brew enthusiasts like Ballantyne insist that letting cool water slowly get infused with coffee makes for a smoother flavour and brings out the best in the beans. “Acidity is a big issue for many people,” said Ballantyne who went on to explain that cold brew coffee is up to 70% less acidic than the conventionally made.
Ballantyne sells his cold brew in a concentrated form (the result of 14 to 18 hours of steeping in filtered water), and he recommends a two parts to one dilution. He is supplied by Social Coffee Roasters in Richmond Hill. I tried some at our meeting, first at one to one, then two. Indeed, the the one to one cup was very strong, and yet not at all harsh. There were certainly more of the rich and sweet flavours one associates with coffee in both verusions of the Station Cold Brew: chocolate and caramel.
Ballantyne is offering his coffee through a delivery service, using and recycling glass bottles. He’s also supplying to the Boom mini-chain of breakfast restaurants, who will use Station Cold Brew for their iced coffee. When we met he was also working with Evelyn’s Crackers to establish a presence in Toronto farmers’ markets and local food events. Ballantyne’s big ambition, though, is to transform the office coffee station and hopes to establish a coffee keg service in the downtown towers. One advantage to cold brew, he explained, apart from the elimination of packaging and filter waste, is that cold brew coffee is stable and can keep for about a month.