Carmel Mountain roaster Mostra Coffee took home a pair of trophies at the June 25 contest, Cold Brew City. Coffee enthusiasts gathered in Barrio Logan to sample cold brew served by a dozen roasters and shops from around the county. Ticketholders voted for their favorites in two categories: straight original and flavored signature takes. Mostra won first place in both.
Producing the event was San Diego Coffee Network, a coffee advocacy group whose efforts the past three years include barista competitions, brewing classes, and coffee film screenings. Founder and CEO Jessica Percifield said the contest reflected cold brew's growth in popularity nationally, and especially in our summery climate.
"I absolutely think that cold brew has become a particular focus here because of our naturally warmer temperatures," Percifield said, pointing out, "Many local roasters and cafes have their cold brew available in growler form."
Attendees ranged from coffee enthusiasts to those attracted by the concept. A couple giving their names as Ben and Jessie said they heard about Cold Brew City on ticketing site Eventbrite.com and attended out of curiosity. "We never had cold brew before today!" said Ben.
While they count themselves regular coffee drinkers, the couple said they haven't explored specialty coffee, opting instead for whatever was convenient. The cold brews they tried may have changed that. "We're going to start exploring outside of Starbucks now," Jessie insisted, "Some of these are great!"
Even guests more familiar with local coffee were exposed to something new. Kyla Mooney said, "I love coffee, and I want to know about everything that San Diego has to offer, especially with cold brew." Still, she found plenty of new shops to appreciate, including Escondido's Kettle Coffee & Tea, which took second place in the original category using a Kyoto slow-drip cold brew method and Ethiopian beans procured from San Dimas roaster Klatch Coffee.
Amanda Seimer counts herself a daily cold brew drinker. However, though she'd tried hot coffee from Coffee & Tea Collective before, this was her first experience with their cold offerings. "I didn't realize they had such a good cold brew," she said, "A lot of those are new to me… it's nice to see the full breadth of what everyone has for cold brew."
Both women gave high marks to Swell Coffee, which took second place in the signature brew category with a complex brew made from bourbon barrel-aged beans from Mexico's Finca Zacamitla.
Mostra established its business with cold brew, marketing it in bottles and contributing to beer collaborations with more than two dozen craft breweries. It won the contest with its original Brazilian cold brew, and flavored Brazillion Coconuts. Accepting first place trophies, Mostra cofounder and roaster Mike Arquines offered humble encouragement to the entire San Diego coffee community.
"Last time I read, we were number six in the nation in terms of coffee," Arquines said, "We're climbing. Just give it a few of years and we'll get up to top three, easy."