A bottle of Guardian Cold Brew includes only coffee and water. No calories, additives, carbonation or alcohol. And the Ohio City-produced beverage goes down smooth with an almost chocolate-like finish.
That's what LT Magnotto and David Rinicella set out to do when they started Guardian Cold Brew last summer — cut the added crap (sugars or dairy), but still avoid the acidity and bitterness of a straight cup of joe.
They say the whole point was to create a beverage they'd want to pop open and enjoy daily. To achieve the desired flavor profile, they experimented, making batch after batch, sometimes buzzing late into the night. The eventual recipe involves a mix of beans from South America and Africa, which are then roasted in Cleveland, and then brewed with cold water (where the process differs from iced coffee, which is cooled, hot-brewed coffee) for a period of 12 to 24 hours.
With official state permits in place since January, the duo bottles at their Cleveland Culinary Launch & Kitchen
space almost nightly to keep up with demand. They blast jazz and the occasional Drake tune, and get down to business brewing and pouring the finished product into dark glass bottles — those eye-catching Guardians of Transportation-inspired labels going on last.
And local establishments have already been more than supportive. You can currently find Guardian Cold Brew at places like Ohio City Provisions, Mason's Creamery (who crafted an ice cream flavor with their coffee), Beet Jar, Grog Shop and also the Plum, where the pair sat down to chat earlier this month.
"We feel like people will like this, it's not just something people will drink in the summer," Rinciella explains.
Rinicella, a barista at Phoenix Coffee Co., has made his own cold brews for years. Teaming up with Magnotto, a local musician who also works at Jakprints, meant finding someone who could facilitate the branding side of things.
"When we got together, it was like, 'How do we make something that so many people are drinking right now, bring it to market and make it our own?,'" Magnotto recalls.
The technique, which takes a considerable amount of time compared to hot brew, was once considered a fad among the coffee elite. And while there aren't many other cold brew coffee companies in Ohio, the concept has gained steam nationally
in the past few years, with Starbucks and many others offering up their own styles of cold brew.
Currently, Guardian Cold Brew is only Rinicella and Magnotto. But they have plans to expand, offer up other flavor options, perhaps move into grocery stores and other parts of Ohio.
These two are inspired by their product. They could talk about it all night. They like how making coffee and drinking coffee brings people together. Plus, there's the added caffeine bonus.
"This is up there, it will get you vibrating," Magnotto says, without giving away their drink's exact caffeine level.
"I'd liken it to a double-shot of espresso," Rinicella says. "We call it a session cold brew, as it's lighter and more drinkable. It's not gasoline and it's not tea."
Find out more about company and where you can purchase their beverages right here.
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