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Shelf Stable Cold Brew Shines

Cold coffee, it’s a hot seller, and consumers can find it everywhere, from cafés to grocery, convenience, and online. Historically, it’s been difficult for roasters and retailers to scale a cold coffee program for growth across all these channels. Shelf-stable cold brew breaks down operational barriers but has historically not met the quality standards that brands desire.

As a result, your cold coffee program is likely reliant on the cold supply chain, that frenemy that keeps things real on the flavor front but creates an operational cluster on the back end. But shelf-stable cold coffee is currently having a breakthrough.

There are two primary heat treatment methods used to create the shelf-stable cold brew, retort, and UHT. Retort is initiated after a can is filled by applying heat and pressure for multiple minutes. UHT is used with Bag-in-Box, Tetra Pak, and PET bottles and differs in that the liquid is first heated for up to 6 seconds and then filled in sterilized packaging.

The gentler UHT method is known for a more positive flavor outcome, but while UHT cold brew has existed for several years, it’s fallen short on delivering the distinguished flavor you taste with a fresh cold brew. Recent advancements have led brands to partner with BKON to commercialize shelf-stable products that utilize our patented brewing technology to achieve optimal flavor.

Seattle headquartered Caffe Vita has felt the positive effects of this distinction. They desired a cold coffee program that circumvented refrigeration requirements while still maintaining product integrity. They found their partner in BKON and created a multi-channel program that includes 5-gallon KEGX Bag-in-Box (BiBs) for their cafes and wholesale accounts and a 2 Liter multi-serve CPG BiB.

“We used to brew in-house at each of our locations and spent a lot of resources testing for quality at each cafe,” said Kate Van Petten, Marketing Director for Caffe Vita. “Now we have the consistency of quality across locations with less effort.”

By streamlining their brewing with BKON, Caffe Vita has extended that consistency to their multi-serve CPG product as well, allowing them to bring the café experience direct to people’s homes. Shipping cold coffee was never a reality before their shelf-stable formats launched. “It has allowed us to reach audiences all around the world. We’ve had orders from customers as far as Japan.” Van Petten noted.

“Transitioning to a shelf-stable program has allowed us to move away from the cold chain by removing the need for large refrigeration space in our warehouse since the product can be stored at room temperature,” said Lorenzo de Amicis, National Service Manager for Caffe Vita. “It has also made managing our cold brew stock simpler. The extended shelf life and reduced waste allow us to purchase more at a time, reducing purchase costs.”

The benefits of shelf-stable cold brew are real and making it possible for retailers, roasters, and coffee brands to think differently about their cold coffee program.

by Lauren Pfeiffer

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