Bottling the buzz
Geoffrey Greitzer, owner of Juice & Java in Paradise, has been in the coffee business for 20 years, but it wasn’t until a year and a half ago that the idea to start brewing nitrogen cold-brew coffee began to percolate in this head. About six months later, his recipe was ready and he began to fill cups with the dark, head-heavy beverage. A few months ago, he began bottling NorCal Nitro and selling it wholesale to local stores. Everything is done in-house at Juice & Java (7067 Skyway Road in Paradise): They roast it, brew it, bottle it, cap it and label it. On tap, it’s available at Upper Crust Bakery & Cafe and Brooklyn Bridge Bagels. In bottles, you can find it at Chico Natural Foods Cooperative and S&S Organic Produce & Natural Foods, and less than a month ago, NorCal Nitro got the green light to stock shelves at Safeway stores in Chico and Paradise, with a possibility of expanding to stores in the Bay Area. For more, visit www.norcalnitro.com.
What is nitro coffee?
Nitro coffee has been around for a few years; they’ve had it on tap in a few places around the country. When we got into it, maybe 50 places around the country had it on tap. The nitrogen pushes the cold brewed coffee through a keg, instead of carbon dioxide, like they use in sodas. When you have nitrogen in the coffee, it doesn’t change the taste of it. It keeps it clean and smooth.
How did you get into brewing and bottling nitrogen coffee?
I’ve been a roaster for 20 years now, and I just saw this new wave coming. From us getting into it, until now, there’s probably a thousand places that have it on tap. We started here and response was really good. We were going through a keg or so a day. People were really liking it because it’s so smooth, and it’s strong coffee.
Why is “shake it” written all over the bottle?
The nitrogen is still in the bottle, but for it to come back to life, you have to shake it really hard. You can see the difference. That’s where you get the creaminess and the Guinness-like head on the top.
How does your expansion affect your production?
We can only do so much, unless a fairy godmother investor comes in and gets us a bottling plant and facility. Right now, we’re doing as much as we can. We’ve added almost an account a week in the past couple of months. We’re just a small little company, and we can only go so far. I don’t want to grow too fast; I want to do things correct and do it right. We’ve got a tiny bit left in expansion, but we’re getting really close to being maxed out.