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Cold Coffee Chronicles

April 21, 2015

Most people don’t read most of the posts on the FLB. So I wanted to take a moment to share a conversation that’s been unfolding in the comments section of a recent post on crimes against iced coffee.

irisira wrote:

Have you been to Perfect Blend in Delmar? My mom is nuts about their iced coffee, which they do a true cold brew process, and if they run out, they run out, because it takes 2 days to make. I got her some tools to make concentrate at home, since hardly anywhere else locally, as you noted, has cold brew.
Related, there is a brewery up in Burlington that put cold brew coffee on their nitro spout. It was delicious. I wish I could remember the name of the place!

To which I teasingly replied:

Funny you should mention that thing about cold brew coffee served on a nitro spout…

And Jack C. as if on cue chimed in:

Why is that funny? This sounds amazing, so if there’s a place nearby that does it, I must know!

Well, let me tell you a story.

Saturday I drank a lot of beer. Actually, it probably wasn’t all that much, but I’m a lightweight. What can I tell you. I had spent the afternoon at the Hudson Valley Hops fundraiser at the Albany Institute since Yelp signed on as one of the sponsors.

Incidentally, Yelp is beginning to sponsor a lot of interesting and cool local events. This weekend we’re sponsors of the MOVE Music Festival in Albany. It’s really thrilling to get to help promote good stuff that’s happening in the community.

Anyhow, after all that beer and finding myself in downtown Albany I wanted a little pick-me-up and wandered down to Stacks Espresso Bar. Did you know they renovated the space? It’s a little disorienting at first, because the pourover bar that used to be on the right-hand side of the shop is now on the left-hand side.

It kind of felt like parting your hair on the wrong side. I did once have hair, you know.

All I wanted was a tear drop. I’ve never had one before, but this was the perfect moment. It’s a layered shot with a little bit of vanilla syrup on the bottom, a bit of half and half in the middle, and a shot of espresso floated on top. There are all kinds of contrasts when knocking that back. There’s warm and cold, bitter and sweet, and acidic and fatty. It’s a lot of fun and a lot of flavor in a small package.

But while I was hanging out, I couldn’t help to notice something unusual. A customer came in and asked for a cold brewed iced coffee. And the order was filled from a tap.

Wait…you have cold brew on tap? Yep.

But that’s not all. There are three heads on the mount. So I inquired into the other two. One is simply going to be selter, so the baristas can serve a proper bubbly chaser to their killer espresso. Those fizzy bubbles really help to accentuate the flavor of great coffee as they clear away the oils that linger around the inside of your mouth.

The other? A nitro spout for a creamy, effervescent cold-brewed iced coffee. Yep. Right here in Albany. It may even be ready for prime time as early as today. But call first before you go, just to make sure. Because it seemed to still be in the developmental stages when I was in on Saturday.

Whoa.

The iced coffee and tonic program hadn’t been brought on line yet either when I visited. And I probably could have been talked into an iced pourover. But I had other eating and drinking adventures to pursue.

It’s fabulous to see a great small shop continuing to innovate and unwilling to rest on its already considerable laurels. The truth is that cold brew is getting more ubiquitous every day. Starbucks now has it, and I have to say it’s leaps and bounds better than the brand’s traditional iced coffee, which absolutely requires milk and sugar to make it a pleasant experience.

The Starbucks cold brew still has that burnt taste that comes from the chain’s signature roasting style. I’d love to see a cold brew of its blonde roast, but I’m not going to hold my breath. Which isn’t to say you won’t see me hanging out in Starbucks this summer. Now that I’ve earned my green level rewards on the mobile app, I get free refills on iced coffee in the shop. I can drink a lot of coffee, and the more I drink, the cheaper it gets.

Add that to air conditioning and free wifi and it’s a powerful combination. But I’m hoping to make it to Stacks as much as humanly possible. Because they are changing the game for coffee in the Capital Region.

For that I salute them.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 21, 2015 9:50 am

    I think Tasting Table just had a post on coffee tonics. Check it out if you have a chance.

    I’m not big on iced coffee, but I do really appreciate the innovation that Stacks is engaged in. Good work, Stacks!

    • April 21, 2015 11:03 pm

      I think that may have been what I saw that made me demand of Ron (from Stacks) to make them in Albany. That’s when I learned Stacks started making them last summer. I also just learned on Twitter that a nitro tap of cold brewed iced coffee was also available last summer up in Saratoga Springs.

      Man. It’s amazing how far behind I got in the coffee scene after a brief sabbatical. I moved away and everyone decided to start doing awesome stuff. Figures.

  2. April 24, 2015 1:27 pm

    This seriously makes my day. I am going to try and head over there this weekend to try it.

  3. David Nardolillo (DEN) permalink
    April 28, 2015 4:48 pm

    I went in on Saturday and the nitro tap wasn’t available. Ron said he had been struggling with mastering the output (or he at least he wasn’t happy with the output) but was committed to working to get it right. On a brighter note, the store was busy on a Saturday afternoon, so it looks like the weekend business has picked up considerably (line for coffee was 7 deep when I showed up around 2pm). You can sense that they are getting the necessary foothold in the neighborhood to be really successful in the long run, which is great.

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