At the end of September, a new coffee roaster opened shop in Imperial Beach. However, customers won’t find an espresso machine, pour-over gear, or even a drip coffeemaker. Trident Coffee specializes in one type of coffee: nitro cold brew.
536 13th Street, Suite 6, Imperial Beach
Navy vet and San Diego native Eric Johnson started Trident, roasting beans on-site and brewing coffee in stainless steel vessels. Each 30-gallon batch steeps for 18 to 20 hours, and as he points out, the cold-brew coffee benefits from bolder flavor, more caffeine, and less acidity than other coffee-preparation methods.
By early December, Johnson featured 12 cold brews on tap, with plans to expand the selection to 16 in the new year. Most of the coffees represent different countries of origin, including well-known coffee-producing nations such as Guatemala, Ethiopia, and direct-trade beans from Mexico. Each is infused with nitrous oxide, the tiny bubbles of the gas instilling the coffee with exceptionally creamy texture.
Some, like an organic coffee from Papua New Guinea, are served straight. However, several feature mild flavorings, such as a Vietnamese robusto coffee inspired by Thai ice coffee, made with coconut milk and simple syrup; and a coffee sourced from Tanzania that was aged briefly in rum barrels.
Trident has started canning cold brew. While Johnson plans to release different flavors quarterly, year-round cans feature Trident’s direct-trade Brazilian signature coffee, while a second can featuring the same is blended with medium-chain triglycerides, a modified coconut oil sometimes use by athletes to reduce body fat and build lean muscle mass.
Trident is one of the first shops to open in the newly developed Bikeway Village (536 13th Street, Imperial Beach), a commercial development located on the southern tip of the Bayshore Bikeway, the cycling path that circles San Diego Bay. The idea is that the triglycerides-infused coffee may appeal to passing cyclists and other athletes. Similarly, an Indian-sourced coffee blended with coconut water offers them cool refreshment in addition to a caffeine boost.
If discussing cold brew in winter sounds odd, don’t tell the San Diego Coffee Network. The organization hosted its second Cold Brew City event December 16th, bringing local coffee roasters and shops together to compete for a pair of best cold-brew awards.
2860 State Street, Suite B, Carlsbad
2725 State Street, Carlsbad
The signature cold-brew winner was chosen by popular vote, awarding the best cold coffee embellished with complementary (nonalcoholic) flavors. The winning concoction was produced by Steady State Roasting of Carlsbad Village. Roaster Elliot Reinecke worked with neighboring Campfire Restaurant to cold-smoke Ethiopian-sourced coffee with cherrywood, then added chai concentrate, fresh ginger juice, and almond milk. Asked if he served the drink in his State Street shop, Reinecke responded, “I might have to, now.”
5627 La Jolla Boulevard, La Jolla
The best original cold-brew award — using only water and coffee — was chosen by a four-person judging panel of coffee professionals. Bird Rock Coffee Roasters took top honors with a unique brew featuring Panamanian coffee said to be wine-processed, meaning the coffee cherries were allowed to over-ripen before being picked, resulting in a winy fruit character in the finished product. Wine-processed coffee beans from Panama’s Duncan Estates will be offered on an occasional basis at Bird Rock shops into January.