by Brandon Fox
Blanchard’s Coffee Roasting Co.’s David Blanchard and Stephen Robertson offered Michael Woitach a full-time job, but he turned them down. He lived in Washington and had worked part-time doing product demos for Blanchard’s in the area's Whole Foods.
“We liked him a lot,” Robertson says. “But he told us, ‘Actually, me and a friend are opening a cold brew company and we’ve been using your coffee to test it.’”
When Robertson heard about the new venture — now Confluence Coffee — he helped Woitach and his business partner, Terry Darcy, figure out a flavor profile that would work with their brewing process, which involves aging the coffee in oak or injecting it with nitrogen in steel kegs.
In the end, they decided on a bean from a fair-trade, certified organic farm in Honduras, roasted on the darker end of the spectrum. “It’s got a naturally leathery, smoky profile that works well with the oak,” Robertson says. It’s also a bean that’s available year-round.
Robertson originally met Woitach when he was a student at University of Richmond and his enthusiasm for coffee was infectious. The two kept in touch.
Based in Washington, Confluence Coffee hit the ground running, Robertson says. “Cold brewing in general is blowing up in the coffee world.” Blanchard’s now delivers 100 pounds of coffee to the company each week.
Once they tried the final product, Blanchard and Robertson were so impressed, they’ve now contracted with Confluence to sell a concentrated version of its own coffee, Hair of the Dog, by the keg to wholesale accounts. For a customer, this means that you can grab a Blanchard’s 32-ounce growler ($7), fill it up ($13) and have about a week’s worth of coffee sitting ready for you in the fridge. You can bring in your own growler, but it needs to be marked with gradated measurements — the concentrate sells for 40 cents per ounce in that case.
Right now, Hair of the Dog is only available at Harvest Grocery and Supply on West Main Street, but it'll be available at Ellwood Thompson’s Local Market in about two weeks and shortly after that, at the Fan's Kuba Kuba as well.
Curious how to use the concentrate? Robertson says a half-and-half combo with water works great, but if you like cream or milk in your coffee, you’ll get a great cup or glass if you use that instead of water. For more recipes, check out these helpful videos on the Blanchard’s Coffee site.