Strange Brews Edition 5 – Coffee Soda

Strange Brews Edition 5 – Coffee Soda

We may have stopped blogging for a week, but the funky coffee drinks continue to keep hitting. We’ve learned that coffee is very similar to pizza. If there’s something that could potentially be put on a pizza, somebody’s tried it. If there’s something that could potentially be added to coffee, some hipster has gone out and added it. This trend isn’t new, but has seen resurgence as of late, sparkling cold brew aka coffee soda.

Hipster Trend or Here to stay?

Sparkling cold brew, or “coffee soda” has been popping up in trendy coffee shops all over the country for over a century. Sources claim that a family of Italian Immigrants in New York curated the first coffee soda. The original drink, known as the “Manhattan Special Espresso Coffee Soda” (what a mouthful) has seen hundreds of variations throughout the last century. The Spritzy Americano, The Light White, and a million other trendy names have graced the antique chalkboard menus of hipster coffee joints as long as we’ve been drinking coffee.

In the last decade coffee soda has taken on a life of it’s own. After seeing a significant amount of popularity in the city of Nashville, the big names in coffee took notice. Everyone’s canning everything, and carbonated cold brew was just the next logical step. Believe it or not, some companies who threw their hats in the ring actually did a great job of it.

Who done did it?

Keepers Coffee Soda didn’t just stop with throwing some lil’ bubbly guys in their signature cold brew. They took it one step further, adding in zest and fruit juices. They took things the citrus route, with lime, lemon, and tangerine takes on the coffee soda. We never tried it, but the reviews online are glowing. This addition of lime juice is actually considered “Nashville Style” as the coffee soda from the music city typically is an espresso shot mixed with lime juice, simple syrup, and tonic. Stumptown Sparkling Cold Brew was the heavyweight roaster’s take on coffee soda. Born from the R&D department in New Orleans, Stumptown also explored adding flavors to the coffee. Ginger Citrus and Honey Lemon didn’t quite take off like you’d think they would (ha.ha.) but having a highly regarded roaster like Stumptown enter the mix added legitimacy to the trend.

Hipster Trend or here to stay?

Full disclosure, neither of these projects panned out. Despite receiving great reviews and tons of press, Keepers shut their doors and Stumptown cancelled their sparkling line. Why? We’re not quite sure. Maybe hipsters don’t dictate mainstream coffee culture. Maybe they were still ahead of their time. It’s still a drink served in coffee shops, but there don’t appear to be canned options on shelves.

Now, there have been other, more significant failures in the coffee soda space as well. Both Pepsi and Coca Cola came out with their own coffee flavored colas, only to fall flat on their faces. This new trend is a bit of a departure from their attempts in the late 90’s, as it’s carbonated coffee rather than trying to combine a coffee flavoring with the strong profile of a cola. Additionally, with the rise of the ready-to-drink coffee market, more people are looking for innovative canned coffee beverages. Finally, a cold brew coffee works much better for this than a traditional hot coffee, as the flavor notes from a cold brew style coffee better compliment the lightness of the carbonation.

In Conclusion

A lot of you are thinking “Hey that wasn’t gross!” You’re certainly right, it wasn’t. Strange Brews doesn’t just have to be about what is gross and makes you cringe; it’s just about what’s different in coffee. We found the carbonated coffee soda movement to be particularly different and interesting. Know of any other cool coffee trends you want us to give our take on? Just want us to name-drop you in our next Strange Brews Volume for the clout? Hit us up in our DM’s with some leads on Instagram.