This past Saturday, the second annual Cold Brew City Fest welcomed 350 attendees at BRICK in Liberty Station.
Like last year, the competition portion was broken down into two categories: Original Cold Brew (coffee and water only), and Signature Cold Brew (any ingredient besides alcohol allowed).
What made 2017 different was that the competition was blind; experienced judges awarded points to the Original contestants, while all festival attendees were given the opportunity to taste Signature cold brews and choose their favorite.
In the end, Bird Rock won for Original Cold Brew, with Modern Times placing second and Cafe Moto coming in third. In the Signature category, Carlsbad’s Steady State Roasting earned 43 votes, 24 more than the second place finisher, Por Vida. For third place there was a tie between Nitro Monkey Coffee and Mostra Coffee.
Bird Rock’s Michael Vasquez described the unique, “wine-processed” coffee: “The cold brew that won comes from the Panama Duncan Estate, and while there is no actual vino involved, the coffee is fermented much like wine. The coffee cherries are allowed to over-ripen on the shrub, and they are harvested as opposed to being picked at their peak of ripeness.” Bird Rock then brewed the coffee on a Kyoto-style slow drip tower, on two separate settings, which were then blended to create a well-rounded cup that highlighted the coffee’s distinct characteristics.
Steady State’s Elliot Reinecke worked directly with the producer and importer to help people realize that the Kambata region of Ethiopia is a coffee-producing area. “We ground it and worked with Campfire restaurant’s Chef Andrew Bachelier and Bar Manager Leigh Russ who cold smoked the coffee with cherry wood.” After that process, the grounds were cold brewed via full immersion, before a dosing of cold-pressed ginger juice, chai mixture, and a splash of almond milk.
The event’s director, Pablo Lara, is already looking for ways to improve the experience. “For next year, we’re considering separate categories for nitro coffee, flash brewing, and presentation,” he told SDBT while catching up at his day job — building relationships with green coffee producers for Sorrento Valley importer Global Coffee Trading. “We really want to continue pushing the scene forward, and having more categories will help us do just that.”
Post updated to include information about Bird Rock’s winning coffee.