With Coldstretto, BKON Shines a New Light on Espresso
New Jersey-based cold coffee manufacturing company BKON has officially launched Coldstretto, a shelf-stable cold coffee product crafted to match the flavor characteristics and drink-making versatility of espresso.
Coldstretto is designed for numerous applications for commercial clients — such as coffee roasters or retailers — including on-demand dispensing for cold espresso-based drinks, standalone ready-to-drink (RTD) espresso shots or other RTD espresso-based beverages in single-serve or multi-serve formats.
The concentrated drink is produced at scale using BKON’s proprietary RAIN (Reverse Atmospheric Infusion) technology.
After revealing the Coldstretto concept at the 2017 SCA Expo in Boston, BKON introduced a market-ready version at the SCA Expo in Portland, Oregon, earlier this year. This month, New York City-based chain Joe Coffee became this first retailer to showcase Coldstretto on its menus, with concoctions based on its popular Waverly espresso blend.
“The reason that [the Coldstretto launch] is material is not that we’re creating something cold at espresso strength,” BKON President and Co-Founder Lou Vastardis told Daily Coffee News in Portland. “It’s that we’ve been able to use our RAIN technology to develop high concentrates that extract the most optimal flavors — the true, signature flavors of [a company’s] established espresso — in a way that is so compelling that brands like Joe are launching an entire new category.”
Vastardis said the four years between the platform’s reveal and commercialization were focused on balancing flavor development, scalability and shelf stability. Vastardis suggested the market potential for Coldstretto has also increased during that time, as the cold drink industry has matured, ushering in recipe innovations and a trend towards coffee as an ingredient.
Third parties arising to help coffee companies satisfy that demand have included Common Collabs, a California-based co-packer and co-manufacturer founded in 2019, and equipment makers such as Ground Control, whose system brews batches of fresh concentrated coffee for espresso-style drinks.
While espresso has maintained its dominance as an ingredient, Vastardis noted an abundance of obstacles in traditional espresso drinks programs, such as equipment costs and service needs, which are particularly problematic in high-volume take-out environments.
“Espresso is the ultimate coffee ingredient,” said Vastardis. “If there’s a way to deliver a packaged extraction that could equal the flavor experience of espresso, it would clear the path of those obstructions. That’s what Coldstretto is; Coldstretto is the only shelf-stable, ready-to-use cold espresso.”
BKON can envision a future for Coldstretto that mirrors common applications in the spirits industry, particularly in multi-serve and shelf-stable formats.
“The spirits industry really is a tremendous analogue because it’s one of the ultimate beverage ingredients, and so the primary format path is with multi-serve bottles and BIB’s,” said Vastardis. “We’ve developed end-to-end commercialization paths with various packaging partners to help our partners develop channel products and channel strategies with these multi-serve formats. There’s also single-serve formats, again another analog back to spirits, where you’re taking the exact same product and you’re putting it in a small two-ounce bottle.”
Founded by brothers Dean and Lou Vastartis, BKON made its first impact on the specialty coffee industry with the launch of a patented single-cup Craft Brewer in 2014, produced through a strategic partnership with Swiss manufacturer Franke Group.
With more patents and numerous funding rounds in recent years, BKON’s rollout of Coldstretto is part of a longer-term vision for industrial-scale brewing, branded partnerships and private-label customers.
For Coldstretto as a B2B service, Vastardis said BKON will work with a coffee company to identify the characteristics and specifications of its ideal espresso shot, then develop the Coldstretto version from there. Minimum production volumes depend on the packaging format and can range from 1,000-5,000 gallons. From start to finish, a new Coldstretto product can reach the market in as little as 60 days.
“The implications are beyond what people are realizing,” said Vastardis. “It’s going to transform how coffee’s commercialized, how coffee is experienced, how it’s discovered, shared, enjoyed. The iPod did exactly that. It was an amazing product, but it was the implications that were really amazing in terms of how it changed the music industry… What we’re talking about is coffee being commercialized in entirely new formats.”
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Howard Bryman is the associate editor of Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine. He is based in Portland, Oregon.
Source: Daily Coffee News