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Now Is The Time For Disruption In The Beverage Industry, Says Ryan McDonnell

Now Is The Time For Disruption In The Beverage Industry, Says Ryan McDonnellRecent years have been a real game-changer for many beverage brands. Innovations, such as Elemental Beverage Co. presents, gives a fresh look to well-known beverages. Cold beverages in under 60 seconds? Yes, please! Today, I have a pleasure of talking with Ryan McDonnell, Chief Coffee & Tea Officer at Element Beverage Co.

Every company has an interesting story to tell. What is Elemental Beverage’s ? How did the whole story of your company start?

At Elemental Beverage Company, we’re people who love great coffee, tea, and cocktails—and happen to prefer them cold. In our search for the perfect chilled drink at Elemental Beverage Company, Founder and Chief Alchemist David M. Dussault found that traditional methods like ice, cold brewing, and refrigeration lead to dilution and oxidation, destroying much of the flavor and aroma we crave. As an avid coffee connoisseur/drinker, David became fed up with a cold brew and iced coffee tasting stale, watered down and nearly un-drinkable. He knew there had to be a way to “take the ice out of the equation” to provide a fresher and more flavorful coffee experience. Using his degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I. T.) and experience with companies developing patented thermal technology in the fields of water and metals purification, the Snapchill™ Technology was created.

Snapchill Technology delivers a new depth, flavor and freshness of coffee that can only be released by rapidly cooling it to lower temperatures. Merging groundbreaking innovation in thermodynamics with tried-and-true heat exchange technology, Snapchill Technology cools liquids exponentially faster than current methods, reaching precise temperatures as low as 10°F within minutes.

Created to capture, preserve and enhance every note, distinction and flavor of coffee, without oxidation, dilution or additives, Snapchilling preserves all the flavors of a hot coffee, cold, unlike any other method for making cold coffee. Coffee is incredibly volatile at high temperatures, meaning its aromas are rising to our nose and out of the drink. From the moment coffee is brewed, it’s starting to chemically break down. By Snapchilling the coffee, we can experience flavors at a more drinkable temperature, without them dissipating into the air. The ability of our Snapchill Technology to ‘dial in’ on the precise, ideal temperature for any variety of coffee, allows even the most complex of single-origin coffees to shine brighter than before.

Let’s talk a little bit about Snapchilled Coffee line. There are 3 different flavors of refreshingly cold coffee. Can you tell us more about each flavor? Which one is your favorite?

All of our Elemental Snapchilled™ Coffee cans are incredible and are available in three varieties, it just depends on what flavor profile speaks to you personally.

Our Kayanza, Burundi Snapchilled Coffee features beans cultivated from Burundi’s volcanic soil. That creates the perfect environment for growing coffees known for sweetness and body. This coffee has remarkably fruity with unambiguous flavors that are direct and sweet, with notes of raspberry preserves and an underlying tartness reminiscent of lemon candy, with a floral lilac finish. Mellow and sweet, our San Alejo, Colombia Snapchilled Coffee is produced using a honey process, for less environmental impact and more distinct flavor. What you’ll get are really clear notes of peanut butter, maple syrup, and a hint of candied orange. The Kolla Bolcha, Ethiopia Snapchilled Coffee is just such a refreshing, tea-like experience. Juicy on the front end, with hints of watermelon, lavender, and a finish of raw honey, it has proven to be our most popular flavor!

I personally love all three of the coffees, but each appeals to me at different moments. The Kolla Bolcha is light and refreshing when it’s really hot out, the San Alejo is sweet and mellow on a lazy afternoon, and the Kayanza is more punchy and heavy when I’m looking to be a bit more adventurous. If I had to pick one, I’d pick the Kolla Bolcha. Those light fruited notes of watermelon are incredibly refreshing, and the floral notes in this coffee are really breathtaking.

Our coffees are ready-to-drink (RTD), chilled, single-origin and direct trade. The Single Origin Sampler can be purchased for $29.95 including six 12oz cans (+$4.99 shipping anywhere within the continental U.S.) and can be bought online and in select stores.

Now Is The Time For Disruption In The Beverage Industry, Says Ryan McDonnell

Gesha is a handcrafted premium cold coffee bottled in 750 ml glass bottle. Can you tell us more about it? What makes Gesha so special?

The Founder’s Selection Gesha coffee is from the world’s largest Gesha farm, Ninety Plus Gesha Estates in the mountains of Panama. Out of each harvest, Ninety Plus’ founder, Joseph Brodsky, chooses one coffee as the pinnacle of production. This special bottle features an ultra-Premium (90+ rating) coffee, his latest selection. The Gesha beans bottled in this Founder’s Selection cost $450/pound.

Featuring the Gesha bean, one of the rarest and most expensive coffees in the world, our Founder’s Selection has been handcrafted from bean to bottle and then Snapchilled. This extraordinary, once-in-a-lifetime cold coffee experience features abundant flavors of super-ripe strawberries, pink lemons, crisp apples, and smooth cognac.

The Founder’s Selection Gesha is meant to be enjoyed in the moment very similar to wine or champagne. There is limited availability, about 100 bottles left, and are numbered by hand. You can buy the Founder’s Selection online here.

The creation of a good-tasting drink takes a lot of time and hard work. What challenges did you face during the development process?

I think the biggest challenge I faced in developing this product is that no one has quite done what we’re doing. Every other coffee on the market (that I’ve seen) is either diluted with ice to cool it down or is oxidized through the cold brewing process. I have yet to see a single-origin, high-scoring coffee that was not oxidized, brewed hot, and/or chilled without dilution. We aimed to hold ourselves to the literal pinnacle of specialty coffee, brewed in cafes on small pour-overs and served individually—and we wanted to can that experience.

There were a lot of problems we found along the way where we needed a new approach that no one was using in coffee. Our system to perfectly extract and preserve these coffees is almost 100% custom-built. There was no one-size-fits-all method for us to do what we’re doing, so I had to meticulously study the beer, wine, and spirits world to see what I could learn. While I didn’t reinvent the wheel, I did have to “Frankenstein” a lot of disconnected knowledge from the beverage world to create what I think is the best possible coffee experience in a can.

Snapchiller – a device which transforms hot and fresh beverages into refreshingly cold drinks. It’s going to be available to the consumers in 4Q of 2019. Can you tell us more about this device?

Cafe and restaurant owners can now serve cold drinks to customers using the Elemental Beverage Snapchiller™ featuring Snapchill Technology. It is a commercial beverage chilling platform for use in cafés, restaurants, and bars and features a 16oz capacity and, at full capacity, can cool 12oz beverages from 140ºF to 40ºF in 60 seconds. The patented Snapchill Technology merges cutting-edge thermodynamics and heat exchange technology to cool drinks without oxidation, dilution (ice) or additives.

The Snapchiller is available for purchase at $5,995 per unit and is expected to ship in early 2020. You can place your order here.

The Snapchiller has also been tested in-market at George Howell’s two Boston locations as well as Starbucks Roy Street Coffee and Tea in Seattle, WA.

What is the biggest milestone Elemental Beverage Co. aims to reach in 2020?

Our goal with our coffee line has always been to make the exclusive, high-quality coffees accessible to coffee consumers. In 2019, our goals were to gain the interest of those we respect in the coffee industry and start making headway with consumers. So far, so good as we head into our 4th month of operations!

As for 2020, we’re setting our sights on expanding the reach of our Snapchilled Coffees to meet coffee drinkers wherever they may be in their day – at home, in-store or at their local coffee shop.

Now Is The Time For Disruption In The Beverage Industry, Says Ryan McDonnellIn your opinion, what are the biggest trends in the beverage market every startup should notice in this year?

Now is the time for disruption in the beverage industry. With larger players recognizing they need to diversify their portfolios towards more healthy, sustainable and innovative offerings, there has been a strong influx of investment in food and beverage startups. In New England alone, $3B has been invested in food and agricultural products – and that makes for a great environment for entrepreneurs. Additionally, transparency in your product’s ingredients in increasingly important. Consumers want to know more about what they are putting into their bodies as well as knowing where it comes from. We’ve been hyper-focused on this in our product development, ensuring our product is in its purest form with maximum flavor as well as providing the consumer with detailed information about the origin and traceability of the coffees we select.

What advice would you have given yourself before you started out in the beverage business?

Being in the business of food and beverage is one that will test your passion, character, and commitment. You need to be prepared for people, both consumer and business, to disagree or even discourage you if you’re doing something new and disruptive. So, as you jump into this industry, know that you’ll deep and tap into the passion for what you’re doing often.

For more information visit Snapchilled Coffee website.

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About Ugne Butkute

Ugnė Butkutė is a project manager at DrinkPreneur. Ugnė is responsible for attracting contributors, maintaining quality of content and keeping readers satisfied with DrinkPreneur

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