Stumptown x Slingshot: A Love Story

Apr 19, 2017

The Crush

Relationships formed around the globe define the world of coffee. Those relationships, as well as the cross-country friendship between Slingshot and Stumptown, inspired the name for a first-of-its-kind collaboration, Long Distance Relationship. Brent Wolczynski, head brewer of Cold Brew, had long been interested in innovating within others in the coffee community. “We collaborate with a lot of breweries to make coffee beers, and I've seen the beer industry collaborate with each other and thrive because of it. Even if they aren't releasing a product together, I see breweries in Oregon talking to each other and sharing ideas and making incredible beers. You really don't see that very much in coffee, so I thought we should try to start that.” He explains. The Cold Brew crew was on board with seeking a coffee coupling. Slingshot Coffee Co. stood out as a company to partner with because of their exceptional cold brew and generally adventurous spirit.

The Meeting

As fate would have it, Diane Aylsworth, VP of Cold Brew, met the Jenny Bonchak, Co-Founder of Slingshot Coffee Co. at the Specialty Coffee Association annual conference in April of 2016 and a friendship instantly blossomed. “We had an immediate kinship between the two of us personally, and we both felt like that was a solid place to start a collaboration -- a mutual fondness and respect for what each of our companies was doing to progress quality and innovation in cold brew,” said Bonchak. Shortly after it was decided that the two companies would get together, share insights, inspiration, and expertise to create a collaborative coffee beverage.

First Date

In August, Slingshot made the trek from Raleigh to Portland for a few days of meetings, brainstorming, team building, and consuming copious amounts of local fare. After throwing around a ton of ideas, it was there that the idea of bringing the coffee plant back together that really excited the team. Marrying coffee with cascara felt like the ultimate celebration of collaboration. With each company's’ respective expertise and a lot of enthusiasm, we rounded the base to the next phase of our collaboration.

Long Distance Phone Calls

The teams embarked on the experimental phase of their relationship. With Slingshot based in Raleigh, NC and Stumptown in Portland, OR, the teams began to mail samples of coffee and cascara to opposite coasts along with formulas, ideas, stories of failures, and little victories. From August to December, the teams at Slingshot and Stumptown experimented with the concept by testing different blend ratios, steep times, levels of sweetness and more — all the while passing back and forth their research and development notes via emails, phone calls, photos and texts. To make sure the pairing was just right, we also experimented with many coffees and varieties of coffee cherries, finally landing on Stumptown’s Rwanda Huye Mountain Cold Brew and Slingshot's cold brewed cascara tea from Aida Batlle’s El Salvador Finca Kilimanjaro — both Direct Trade. As one might expect in a healthy relationship, after all was said and done, we found that the perfect balance of Cold Brew and cascara tea was an even 1:1 ratio.

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Passing Notes

Both companies wanted to be sure that Long Distance Relationship looked lovely for it’s debut into the world. To continue the collaborative spirit, the two design teams started sending sketches and mock-ups back and forth. After a lot of sketches of telephones and conversations about the color blush, the designers created a wonderfully nostalgic and one-of-a-kind package for our love child.

The Lovechild

In March of 2017, the teams came back together in Portland to brew, can, and package Long Distance Relationship. We brewed a batch of Cold Brew in one tank (Carl) and steeped cascara in the other (Lenny) before finally uniting them during the canning process. “From the design to the formulation to the production, this was a 100 percent collaborative effort. Our teams meshed really well, and we have a delicious beverage and great friendships to show for it,” added Wolczynski. After everything was dialed and the first few cans came off the line, the teams celebrated by joyfully shotgunning (or attempting to shotgun) a few of the first cans off the line.

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As with many romances, this one is fleeting, Long Distance Relationship will be a one time, very limited production. If you’d like to try this crisp and balanced bevvie, it is now available in Stumptown cafes, New Seasons grocery stores and select Whole Foods locations. For more information contact info@stumptowncoffee.com.