It was a Sunday afternoon in Coconut Grove. One of those Miami days when the weather is forgiving and you can feign a need for scarves. Faux-winter attire and dog in-hand, we made our way to The Barnacle. The Mad Hatter Arts Festival was out full force and I was in the mood to experience the strange small town-ness Coconut Grove’s festivals generously impart. Local vendors, artists and artisans gathered in mutual admiration of Alice in Wonderland’s most famous resident.
That’s when I tried Cold Brew Station for the first time.
In true Miami form we knew two of the three owners from scattered social interactions. Six degrees of Kevin Bacon doesn’t touch the level of interconnectedness in Miami. But it wasn’t their familiarity that made an imprint–– it was the fact that they’re making something happen.
Now more than ever there is a rise of local makers. These artisans are people like you and me, creative souls with a desire to craft something beautiful and elevate South Florida’s collective culture. Down to every well-made coffee and thoughtfully curated snack menu, the love put into these simple details and passing pleasures allows us to make the choice to support our city.
So what goes into the best cup of iced coffee you’ll get off a truck in Miami?
Cold Brew Station is a traveling iced coffee window that serves Relentless Roasters’ coffee. Kevin Gonzalez, Daniel Choiseul Paguaga and Andre Villarreal, the three dudes behind the business, have been good friends since college. After graduation, Paguaga travelled to Nicaragua to learn the family trade. Upon his return, he decided to bring it to the states. And thus, Relentless Roasters was born.
Cold Brew Station, the Instagram-announcing iced coffee mobile, is an extension of its larger wholesale parent.
A Guinness-kinda coffee
The trio’s most famous cup of java is without a doubt their cold brew infused with nitrogen. This coffee has a thicker consistency that cascades and forms a sturdy froth similar to a well poured Guinness. It’s less bitter than the average black coffee; the nitrogen infusion gives the beverage a heaviness that milk and sugar normally would.
“It was a way we thought we could transition people from your [average] Cuban coffee consumption that loads it with sugar, to just appreciating the coffee for what is was,” said Kevin Gonzalez, Co-Founder of Relentless Roasters, “It’s more approachable to the person who’s not used to drinking it black.”
In addition to refining locals’ pallets and appreciation for pure coffee, Cold Brew Station surprises its patrons with their least likely but best-selling drink– the Cold Brew Cooler. A twist on the Arnold Palmer, iced tea and lemonade, this unexpected beverage mixes the Awaken Cold Brew blend with lemonade… which sounds disgusting.
“It sounds kind of gross but our coffee is roasted lighter, so it pairs very well with the lemonade,” said Gonzalez laughing. “It’s refreshing and tasty. I get that same reaction 95% of the time. People doubt me and then never order anything else again.”
Kegs– they’re not just for college
“You know, it’s literally seed to cup from Danny’s family farm to us. We roast it, package it and deliver it,” said Gonzalez. “The biggest challenge we had initially when we focused Relentless Roasters for wholesale was that so much care and diligence had gone into the coffee process, but if you can’t brew it, you may as well drink burnt-to-a-crisp regular coffee.”
As a result, the Relentless Roasters keg o’ java was born. The kegging route ensures all the effort and TLC behind the process is preserved in the final product. All of their wholesale accounts get set up with the kegerator, tap and handle. The local roasters’ clientele is a roster of recognizable names serving solid cups of java in the city, like Miami Smokers, Graciano’s, Ms. Cheezious and Wynwood Diner.
Pinky up – Our local coffee culture is getting refined
The specialty coffee market in Miami is increasingly becoming more sophisticated. This evolution naturally lent itself to cold brew coffee’s newfound mainstream stardom. Gonzalez, who is a Sommelier, finds that the wine and coffee worlds aren’t so different.
“I didn’t know it, but that [cultured] world certainly exists for coffee too. You’re looking at not only the actual varietal of the coffee, where it’s from––not just the actual country but the farm–– how it’s processed,” said Gonzalez. “So many things parallel with wine and can affect the taste and the profile of that coffee.”
The flavorful profile of their own brew gives way to scrumptious food pairing options.
Collaborating with local makers
You’ll often find delicious snacks and treats to pair with your coffee sold on the truck from Miami businesses like, Sweetness Bakeshop, Honeybee Doughnuts and Cafe Curuba. For Cold Brew Station, the decision to support local is twofold.
“We don’t want to lose ourselves by trying to make our own sweets and snacks. And we also want to use the platform we have right now to showcase other local businesses, because we’re all after the same thing,” said Gonzalez. “We’re trying to put Miami on the map and develop into a more culturally and culinarily diverse city.”
Fun facts & insights
Cold Brew Station is Miami’s first iced coffee truck
- The Cold Brew trailer used to be a Coca Cola truck. The bright red Coca Cola logo can be found underneath it.
Iced coffee is in fact stronger than hot coffee! Cold brew typically has twice the caffeine content of a regular cup o’ Joe. You’re welcome.
Follow @coldbrewstation to find out Miami’s most interesting cup of coffee is coming to an area near you.
Words by: Cris Ramos, Miami native & word artist. Find her work @ The Emerald Journal.