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From cold brew packaging to beyond: Launching an RTD coffee

Silverskin Coffee Roasters in Dublin, Ireland, began with owner Brian Kenny serving freshly roasted coffee from a kiosk. Now, 12 years later, Silverskin has settled into its third home, roasts in a state-of-the-art facility, and is on the brink of launching its first cold brew coffee product. 

After 18 months of hard work and tackling unpredictable barriers, Brian reveals Silverskin Coffee Roasters will launch its True cold brew at the Dublin Coffee Festival on 1st March 2024. Those headed to the festival will be able to spot the team a mile away, as each member will sport a branded varsity jacket. Not to mention, Silverskin Coffee has invested in a life-size cold brew can costume.

I spoke to Brian about how the brand went about creating the product and designing the look of its cold brew packaging. 

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Creating ‘True’ Cold Brew

Brian admits that this “small idea ended up snowballing into [a] huge project with many obstacles that we have had to overcome along the way.” Despite this, Brian radiates with pride and excitement as he speaks about the product, with the first of three launching in a matter of weeks. 

“True Cold Brew is exactly that,” he explains. “It isn’t hot coffee cooled down. It isn’t traditionally brewed coffee mixed with ice. It is brewed cold, under 4°C (32°F), in a controlled brew tank.” Brian adds that the tank has a jacket which transfers and recirculates temperature-controlled water to ensure cold brewing takes place.

Currently, there is no available definition or regulatory standard on cold brew coffee. As a result, the market is saturated with ‘cold brew’ beverages that are not actually brewed under cold conditions. 

Warmer weather tends to increase the demand for colder beverages. Brian notes that there are “several variations of iced coffee, hot coffee cooled down, and alternative milk-based beverages, but [these are] normally all espresso-based. What we rarely see is actual cold brewed coffee.”

“The extraction is completely different to traditional coffee,” Brian adds. “In fact, recent studies and research show the opinion on cold brew is true: it’s more floral, less bitter and rubbery than a hot brew.”

In addition to True Cold Brew, Silverskin Coffee Roasters aims to launch a nitrogen-flushed offering, and one that is oat milk-based. 

From tanks to cans: Packaging cold coffee

When Silverskin began developing its cold brew coffee range, the brand invested in a few 300 litre tanks. Over the past 12 months, the team has conducted research and worked closely with the National Coffee Association (NCA), which has supplied them with resources surrounding the beverage, including HACCP plans, research papers, toolkits for cafes, and handbooks for coffee roasters. 

‘We [feel that we] are pioneers of the specialty cold brew revolution,” Brian says. “We hope it sparks conversation and innovation around cold brew, nitro coffee, and RTD drinks within the Irish coffee marketplace.”

The manufacturing process, Brian reveals, begins with filling the first tank with filtered water. This tank chills the water and then transfers it to the brewing tank, which contains ground coffee, via a series of hoses. Next, the ‘brew agitator’ is activated and the desired speed is selected. A brew can take between 6 and 9 hours with the brand’s Guatemalan coffee. 

The brewing tank features a tap, allowing Brian to sample the beverage at any time. When it is ready, the brewing halts and the coffee passes through a filtration system. Essentially, this system is a pressurised press filter that allows the coffee to pass through along two sample view points, or extraction points. This allows the team to assess the coffee both before and after filtration. The brew can also be tasted at both points. 

When it comes to creating the nitro cold brew, Brian explains the coffee is then transferred to a nitro tank. This pressurised tank is fed by nitrogen gas and the coffee sits in this atmosphere for 8 to 10 hours. This helps to create the creamy cascade and add velvety micro-bubbles to the brew.

The last step is packaging. At Silverskin, the brew will be transferred to the brand’s Wild Goose canning system. The system has a nitrogen doser which uses liquid nitrogen at a temperature of  -150°C (-302°F) to ensure any oxygen is driven out of the can. Prior to use, Silverskin’s bespoke cold brew cans are heat treated and cleaned to ensure they are free form bacteria. Once filled, each can of cold brew coffee is dated using a laser. 

The current shelf life of the cold brew coffee cans is two weeks. That said, Brian reveals the brand’s penultimate piece of kit, the pasteuriser, is arriving in March. This will extend the shelf-life to 9 months, allowing for a larger market.

“When I sample the cold brew from the tank, all the stress is just gone because the brew tastes like it should,” Brian says, happily. “We’re using a Los Apollos Guatemalan coffee, and it just doesn’t really taste like coffee. It’s incredible. The brew itself is like vanilla chocolate.”

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Designing cold brew coffee cans 

The packaging for Silverskin Coffee’s cold brew products perfectly aligns with the brands coffee bags. In 2023, Silverskin Coffee Roasters were finalists for the MTPak Coffee Circular Economy Grant. The brand was praised for its innovative recyclable paper coffee tubes that feature a fresh seal.

“The coffee cylinders are a labour of love,” Brian explains. “They’re 3 to 4 times the cost of coffee bags, but we wanted to do something completely different to our competitors,” Brian says. Silverskin’s cold brew cans will be no different. 

The look was created by local Irish designer, Dave Rogers and features a striking white can for the True brew and the Oat. The custom black cold brew coffee can showcases white flashes for the nitro. There is a cardboard sleeve for the multipacks and all the packaging is fully recyclable. 

After launching his True Brew at Dublin Coffee festival, Brian will attend this year’s edition of the Producer Roasters Forum in Guatemala. Notably, Brian has entered into the cold brew championships.

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About the author

Esther has been in the specialty coffee industry for 14 years working as a Q Grader, SCA Trainer and ESTA trainer. She’s also offers her services as a coffee consultant through Hope Espresso. Her passion for writing comes from her love of sharing stories about the industry and ensuring knowledge is accessible to all.