CEO Mike McKim started roasting Cuvee Coffee in 1998 and was one of the first US companies to launch a black nitro cold brew coffee (NCB) in kegs in 2011.
Three years later Austin-based Cuvee was the first to can its NCB, paving the way for popular brands known today such as Stumptown and RISE. Now that McKim feels he has perfected the black NCB, new variations are joining the lineup.
Trailblazing with hemp oil
With a strong interest in fitness and as a self-proclaimed fan of clean label products, McKim wanted to develop drinks that he enjoyed, first and foremost.
“When I look at the landscape of cold brew, everyone’s got the same boring [flavors]--vanilla, mocha, salted caramel. Just as a company I think that we’re not followers, we’re more trailblazers. So I wanted to take our line extensions in a totally different direction,” he told BeverageDaily.
In April Cuvee launched a variation of its black NCB with hemp oil and was the first coffee company to do so. McKim uses cannabidiol (hemp oil) in his everyday life as a natural anti-inflammatory to supplement his workouts. He had been adding it to his morning coffee for years and decided to make it permanently accessible.
McKim says the new beverage tastes just like the original black NCB and the brand is marketing the hemp oil addition as ‘odorless and tasteless’ so consumers get all of the benefits with none of altered taste.
“I tested a whole bunch of products, and a lot of them taste like you just ate a pot plant. As soon as I put it in the cold brew, that’s all I could taste. That’s why I found a good partner that was capable of creating a product that we’d actually be able to fold into a beverage that wasn’t going to negatively affect the flavor,” McKim said.
Cuvee is also launching a horchata-flavored NCB, beginning production later this month. The brand’s Coffee Bar location in Austin creates and sells different seasonal cold brew flavors year round and has had horchata as a part of its summer rotation for the last two years.
After being the top seasonal seller and a big hit with customers, McKim said it was ‘a no-brainer’ to make the horchata flavor permanent. And he wanted to get it right.
“When we did horchata, I was hell-bent on making sure it was all-natural. It would have been easy to fill it full of chemical ingredients … to make it taste yummy, but I didn’t want to do that. It took a while to find the right people to work with to create an all-natural product,” he said.
He describes the horchata flavor as cinnamon and vanilla with an almond finish and expects the new NCB line to resonate with people in markets across the country.