Coffee drinkers the world over are warming to cold brew. With our hot climate and love of coffee, this is a trend that was never going to bypass South Africa.
But cold brew is not just a trendy hipster coffee. It's a centuries-old brewing method that is delivering fresh flavours to modern coffee enthusiasts.
We chatted to Niel Bekker, who founded Potion Coffee in 2014, about the hot new cold drink.
1. Where and when did you decide to bring cold brew coffee to South Africa?
New York was embracing cold brew coffee just a few years ago and I happened to be living there at the time. When I returned to South Africa, a friend and I thought that we deserved our own locally made cold brew, so we started experimenting. It tasted pretty good! So in 2014, we started Potion with the idea of spreading the gospel of cold brew in this country.
2. How did you decide on the name Potion Coffee?
People don't just drink coffee, they use it to get through the day, to get stuff done, to feel awesome. Kind of like a magic potion. We wanted our coffee to be a mysterious elixir that people use to get the best out of the day.
3. How is cold brew coffee made?
You brew the best coffee you can find in cool water for anything up to a day, filter and chill. On paper, it's very simple. In practice, you can get very different results depending on what coffee & grind you use, how you filter, whether you stir the brew, etc. Easy to learn, difficult to master!
4. Where do you get your coffee beans from?
We use single origin coffee from Truth. They're at the pinnacle of the coffee game, and we wanted to work with someone who could give us the very best raw materials to make superior cold brew.
5. What is the best way to enjoy Potion Coffee?
I drink it black, and I would encourage everyone to try it that way first, but it really is a matter of taste and a bit of milk or liquid sugar is not out of place. I've heard of people drinking it with condensed milk.
6. Can you tell us about nitro brew and whether you will be using this technique with Potion Coffee?
Nitro cold brew is basically cold brew on tap, served with a nice foamy head, like a Guinness. We're playing around with it, I could tell you more but then I'd have to make a very unfunny joke about killing you.
7. Apparently it's healthier drinking cold brew due to the reduced acidity, can you expand on that?
Because cold brew extracts the goodness of coffee at a low temperature, you get a different profile of oils being extracted from the grounds. You end up with something that is much less acidic in taste. There are claims about this being better for those prone to heart burn and whatnot, but I'll leave the medical advice to the doctors. I like cold brew because it tastes good!
8. Cold brew coffee is a big trend in the USA and in Europe with considerable growth over the past year. Do you think there will be this kind of uptake in SA?
South Africans have developed a much more discerning taste in coffee in recent years. We've had a love affair with milkshake-style ice coffee, but now it's time for something that actually tastes like coffee. I think you'll see cold brew all over SA in the future.
9. Where do you see Potion Coffee in 5 years?
In Samuel L. Jackson's fridge.
10. There are other cold brew coffee products, like Cove Cold Brew, available in SA – what makes Potion Coffee different from them?
We're all making our own style of brew with a lot of love, and arriving at different places. I think people should try them all, and help establish a great culture of cold brew in this country.
11. Can you identify any future coffee trends that we can look forward to?
I have no idea what they will come up with next. That's what makes the future fun!
Potion Coffee is available at selected Cape Town cafés and outlets. Follow them on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook to find out where you can buy your next bottle. It retails at around R25-30 for a 200ml bottle.