While the world reconciles with cold coffee, Raleigh’s Slingshot Coffee Co. continues to push the boundaries.
The company, one of the nation’s standard bearers for cold brew coffee, is getting into the soda game.
After finding success across the country, landing their drinks in Target, Whole Foods and Publix, the husband-and-wife company of Jenny and Jonathan Bonchak just moved into a new 13,000-square-foot brewing facility in the southern part of Raleigh.
And Wednesday, Slingshot unveiled two coffee-based sodas in artfully printed, stubby cans. There’s a cream soda with orange and vanilla and a cherry soda, each coffee-forward.
In an interview at the new Slingshot headquarters, Jenny Bonchak pointed to century-old soda Manhattan Special as evidence fizzy coffee drinks aren’t as new age as one may think.
Slingshot’s dabbling in sodas began in 2014, when the cold brew company still ran a sometimes coffeeshop called Weekend open on, you guessed it, Saturdays and Sundays. As bottling became the business, they couldn’t do both and closed the shop, but kept sodas on the brain.
Picking the two flavors was simple, Bonchak said: cream soda is Jonathan’s favorite, cherry cola is hers.
“Coffee has a natural sweetness,” Bonchak said. “Sodas don’t have to be a ton of sugar and a ton of sweetness.”
The sodas have 10 grams of sugar in an 8-ounce can, compared to 39 grams in a 12-ounce coke.
The Bonchaks have worked in craft coffee for a decade and a half, spending time at some of the Triangle’s top roasters, including Counter Culture Coffee, from which Slingshot is made. They’ve seen specialty coffee grow from a niche luxury to today’s golden age, where local roasters turn out world class beans, and espresso bars can resemble chemistry sets, making drinks of precision that taste like flowers and chocolate. It’s not a controversial declaration to say coffee has never tasted better.
Bonchak said soda is just another expression, a way to tease out another side of coffee.
“It’s not just a cup of brown that our grandparents drank,” she said. “That’s what’s exciting about the coffee movement. We really see it as a canvas, the possibilities are endless.”
Bonchak said the cream soda could find itself in a glass spiked with gin, or the cherry cola hanging out with rum, though spiking it isn’t necessary.
The new Slingshot sodas are on sale starting Wednesday in few specialty stores in Raleigh with wider distribution to follow. The first run made 5,000 cans, Bonchak said, with another expected in a few weeks.