We were interviewed by a group of university students so they could learn about our small business
This Q & A style interview was conducted by a group of UWA marketing under-graduates (George, Greta, Sam and Sarah) as a part of their digital marketing assignment.
Last week we had the opportunity to sit down with Aaron and Brendan, the co-founders of Filament Coffee. The interview was conducted over a Filament Nitro Cold Brew so we could be our own judges. Despite being white coffee drinkers, it's fair to say we were more than pleasantly surprised!
We got to ask them a few burning questions about cold brew and then delve a bit deeper into their business and values. Warning, the discussion gets a little philosophical ;)
What is cold brew?
Aaron: Cold brew is technically a method of brewing coffee. We are still grinding coffee just like you would if you were making a hot brew, but we use cold water instead of hot water to extract the flavour. Instead of speed we have to be much more patient for our flavours to extract, often for up to 24 hours. In summary, it’s a way to brew coffee using cold water!
How was Filament coffee born?
Brendan: Aaron and I used to work together at an accounting firm. One day we had a meeting with clients who’d come back from Melbourne and they were talking about a drink called cold blend coffee. We’d never heard of it before, and thought - Perth’s pretty warm, we want to do something ourselves, why not try it out? So we went to Woolworths and bought a bag of pre-ground coffee, put a batch on and then into the fridge overnight. That was it. In the morning we tasted and thought, ‘we have something here!’
What excites you about cold brew?
Aaron: What doesn’t excite me? It’s such a unique product. If you understand the story of how the coffee bean goes from growing on a plantation somewhere around the world to being in your coffee cup, and all of hands and minds that have touched it, it’s pretty cool. It excites me that people who may not have experienced cold brew or black coffee before, can understand and experience the flavour… and we get to play with cool equipment!
Where did your passion for cold brew come from?
Brendan: Our passion for cold brew comes from the technology, innovation, and the constant learning. It’s a relatively new product for us, for Perth and for coffee, so we’re learning all the time which is great. It’s also the people we get to meet! For me personally, it’s out of my comfort zone to rock up to a farmers market on the weekend and try and sell my product to someone. A lot of people we’ve met and a lot of friends we’ve made are all part of it. So I don’t know if our passion necessarily came from somewhere, but we’re finding new ways of being passionate about cold brew not only through the product itself, but the people we interact with and meet.
Tell us a bit about the cold brewing process
Aaron: It’s is a simple process! Lots of variables have been tweaked over time to create our recipe as there’s a lot of variability in coffee. For example, the denser the bean, the more time it takes to extract the flavours. We start by grinding the coffee so that it’s fresh - a vital step in creating our delicious product. We then place the coffee grounds into stainless steel vessels, where they’re submerged in cold filtered water. We use filtered water because it’s free of nasties and creates a safe product. Then we wait 20 to 24 hours. At the end of this process we drain our vessels, filter the cold brew and transfer it into kegs, which we distribute around Perth. We also have a process where we nitrogenate some of our coffee creating our nitro cold brew. This involves placing the coffee under pressure over a period of time, resulting in the nitrogen dissolving into the cold brew. When it’s poured out of the tap you get that beautiful creaminess and the cascading micro-bubbles.
What is the difference between cold brewed coffee and barista made, cold coffee?
Brendan: The difference between cold brew and an iced long black/latte is that they’re made with a hot shot of coffee over ice and then topped up with milk or water. So it’s a hot coffee that’s cooled down. Cold brew is brewed cold and served cold. That is the fundamental difference between the two. There’s also taste and caffeine content differences.
Why recommend cold brew over barista made cold coffee?
Aaron: We think cold brew is better because it’s fit for purpose - it’s brewed to be served in that fashion. As Brendan said before, iced coffee’s are an espresso diluted with either milk or water. Cold brew differs in that every molecule of water in the final beverage has been involved in the extraction process. It has a richer, smoother and more delicious flavour. Our view is that if you’re going to drink espresso, drink it properly.
Brendan: Well that’s pretty aggressive… and controversial.
Are you full time cold brewers?
Brendan: We sort of are. We started 3 years ago when Aaron and I were both part time at work, so Filament was mostly a side hustle. We started at the farmers markets on Saturdays, but then wholesale started growing and we were getting busier, so I’ve recently taken some time off from my job to focus on it. Aaron’s down to 3 days a week, so we aren’t completely full-time, but we’re close. We’re on our way.
Aaron: It’s cause I’m selfish mate.
Tell us some of the benefits of cold brew?
Aaron: The brewing process produces a black coffee that tends to be less bitter and acidic than espresso coffee. That means it’s a lot smoother, so those that aren’t used to drinking black coffee will be quite surprised at how drinkable it is! Another benefit of the low acidity is that it’s kind on your gut. The ability to nitrogenate cold brew is pretty unique... and we can keg it because it's cold. It has a really good shelf life in a keg - it’s sitting in a nitrogen environment so the oxygen doesn’t have the opportunity to spoil the coffee. And we can put it under extreme pressure and pour it up just like a Guinness. Oh, and it’s cold and refreshing! Here is a blog post created by Filament that highlights five health benefits of cold brew coffee.
Describe the taste
Brendan: It depends on the beans used. Cold brew is lighter than an espresso shot and allows you to taste the coffee. What I mean by that is that coffee beans come from all over the world and all have different tasting profiles depending on where they’ve been grown, how they’ve been dried, etc. So cold brew really allows you to taste the specifics of the coffee.
Aaron: Do it justice.
Who are the main consumer groups of cold brew? Any surprises?
Aaron: Really it’s just coffee lovers. We supply cafes, gyms, offices, supermarkets, bottle-shops, a whole range of wholesalers. Brendan described how the cold brewing process does a lot of justice to the flavours that are unique to each coffee bean. So people that really appreciate the intricacies of coffee and understand it’'s not just a transaction with their body, tend to appreciate cold brew a bit more. And then you’ve got the cold drink frothers, so it’s a great option for them instead of having an iced latte and feeling a bit bloated after. Consumer group wise, I think we struggle a bit with hitting the older market, but that’s just because it’s such a new and peculiar product.
What else can I do with cold brew?
Brendan: it’s a really great ingredient that we’ve used in smoothies, porridge etc. It makes a really great cold brew martini, and instead of shaking the cocktail, you can serve it straight off tap or you can shake it at home. We’ve also done different styles of cold brew, Aaron’s made a hemp cold brew, an oatmeal stout cold brew, so yeah it’s a great ingredient! It’s zero calories and high in caffeine, so it's definitely a great ingredient for breakfast time!
Aaron: Don’t forget the icy poles! We call them, cold brew pops! Check out some of our favourite recipes here.
Where do you see filament in 5 years time?
Aaron: That’s a really hard question to be honest. Brendan and my philosophy is that you’ve got to enjoy the process and the journey. So whilst we set goals, they’re more like 12 month goals because the amount of twists, turns and pivots are incredible. We’re obviously in it to grow, as we think we can make a real impact on the world and people through sharing really good coffee.
Brendan: It’s pretty tricky. 5 years is pretty hard, but hopefully we’re bigger and better, and maybe we’re even completely different.
Aaron: I'm just as excited as you are to see where we are in 5 years and I think that’s the beauty of not being attached to the outcome. I actually had a conversation with a guy down at the farmers market today about that! That if you’re constantly attached to the results of what you’re doing, you miss everything, you miss the day-to-day. You don’t stop and smell the roses so we aren’t too worried about where we will be in 5 years. We’re going to take it as it comes, keep moving forward, innovate and try and be ahead of the curve.