In six years, Raleigh’s Slingshot Coffee Co. has grown from a small-batch operation to one of the country’s largest cold brew companies with bottles sold in stores from New York to New Mexico.
The expansion continues, with Slingshot entering 300 Publix grocery stores throughout North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida next week.
Slingshot, owned by husband-and-wife team Jonathan and Jenny Bonchak, has become an industry leader with its cold brew.
It’s already for sale at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Target. At Publix, Slingshot will sell its ready-to-drink 12-ounce cold brew, its uncut concentrate and its eight-serving, ready-to-drink box.
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Cold brew isn’t iced coffee. It’s more than that: coffee grounds steeped for hours in cool water, producing a rich, caffeine potent rocket fuel. When diluted, it showcases coffee’s sweeter, fruitier notes and seems to filter out most of the bitterness and acid.
In recent years, it’s hit the mainstream, with Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts offering cold brew coffees among their iced offerings. Slingshot’s deal with Publix will put them in their most conventional grocery store to date. In the Triangle, Publix has four locations – in Cary, Apex and Wake Forest – with three more on the way, including downtown Raleigh.
With the coffee shop giants also in the game, Jenny Bonchak said they can help educate consumers about just what cold brew is.
“My 94-year-old neighbor still doesn’t get it, she asks me, ‘Are you still making that cold coffee?’,” Bonchak said. “As ubiquitous as cold brew has become, introductions from places like Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts help do the heavy lifting when it comes to educating consumers on what cold brew is.
“But just like beer and tea, there’s a spectrum from commodified to specialty, premium offerings,” she said. “We want to be part of educating people on the attributes of drinking better coffees. I love to be able to see the expression on people’s face when they see what coffee can be. That’s the best part.”
The Bonchaks have spent more than a decade in the local specialty coffee industry, initially working for Triangle coffee pioneers Counter Culture Coffee and Joe Van Gogh and together collecting several barista championships.
Soon, they hope to get Slingshot into West Coast stores and also have plans to move into a larger facility this spring. The cold brew itself continues to be made from a single-origin Ethiopian coffee from Durham’s Counter Culture.
Slingshot is also adding new flavors of its cascara, a tea made from the dried husk of the coffee cherry. The flavors are blueberry jasmine and an Arnold Palmer-inspired “Cascaranold” that’s cascara tea and lemonade.
Drew Jackson; 919-829-4707; @jdrewjackson