Slingshot Coffee Co, a bottled cold brew business we profiled in 2012, has found substantial success in this rapidly expanding segment of quality coffee consumption. The company, based in Raleigh/Durham, have recently rolled out a new project this month for the Saturday/Sunday crowd. It’s called “WEEKEND“, and it’s a coffee bar/outdoor space in at their new headquarters near downtown Raleigh, outfitted with a bar and patio features from locals Arrowhead Collective.
More information from the Slingshot Coffee Co. Tumblr:
We talked with the Jenny Bonchak, the founder of Slingshot Coffee Co., along with her partner and veteran United States Brewers Cup Champion Jonathan Bonchak, to find out more about everything that went into this project, from bottled and kegged cascara and iced coffee, to the influence of the Brewers’ Cup and the Bonchak’s own kitchen coffee rituals.
Jenny, it’s been two years, somehow, since we first featured Slingshot, all the way back on August 8th of 2012. Tell us how the Slingshot world is going now! Who carries your bottles? How does all the good press feel?
We’re really jazzed about what we’ve accomplished in the last two years. When we first talked Slingshot, I was brewing and bottling in the wee hours of the morning in the kitchen of a local restaurant, working through the night and then going to work at my day job. Fast forward to today, and Slingshot has moved from that restaurant, to a shared space with a local bicycle shop, to now having our own “brewery” and bottling facility. I’ve also quit that day job to focus on the company full time. Slingshot is stocked among fantastic retail partners in 10 states, including independent specialty markets and coffee shops from Pennsylvania to Florida, as well as Whole Foods stores in the Southeast. And we don’t plan to stop anytime soon.
I’m really grateful that the focus on the quality of what we’re brewing has stood out to catch the attention of the public and media alike. I’d be lying if I said that the national and even international press we’ve received hasn’t made me starry-eyed at times, but really it’s been so fantastic that the local and regional press in the South has continued to embrace Slingshot. I’m happy to make Raleigh, to make North Carolina, and the South proud.
Jonathan, you’re a repeat regional Brewers Cup winner, and you came *this close* to winning the US event last season. Will you be back again for the 2015 Brewers Cup? What have you learned from competing? And can guests at Weekend expect Brewers Cup style service?
It’s always been mine and Jenny’s goal at WEEKEND to brew and serve coffee with the same kind of precision and enthusiasm as Brewers Cup coffees. We do plan to host lots of cool coffee-centric things at WEEKEND, including special events highlighting my competition preparation and service.
Every time I’ve competed in Brewers Cup I take away from it a deeper appreciation for coffee and everything that goes into making a cup exceptional. I’m proud that I’ve always brewed and served coffees that were truly my favorite coffees and pushed the boundaries of where coffee can go. I’ve competed three years in a row with significant successes that I’m very proud of. Brewers Cup takes an immeasurable amount of time, energy and dedication, and while you know I love competing and how it challenges me to be a better coffee person, I’ve decided to take the year off to coach.
You can bet that I’ll definitely be back to compete in future Brewers Cups. And that’s not to say that you won’t see a Bonchak competing in Brewers Cup in 2015… it just won’t be this Bonchak.
Describe what your vision is for WEENEND at Slingshot. Who is the project for? What makes you excited about it?
Jenny: For me, WEEKEND is a chance to invite people into Slingshot’s home. It’s really that simple. Sure, it’s certainly an extension of the Slingshot Coffee Co. brand, but in a personal way to me. The coffee bar at WEEKEND looks a lot like our kitchen at home and the patio looks a lot like our backyard. I’m really proud of the thought and work that goes into those bottles everyday and I’m excited to keep working so that more people can get their hands on it. WEEKEND gives me a chance to experiment with new coffees, new ideas, and invite people to be a part of that creative process in a way.
Jonathan: The core message in my Brewers Cup presentation this past year was intentionality. The big idea here wasn’t to reinvent the wheel or to create something groundbreaking. We had the opportunity to realize a dream of brewing coffee together side-by-side, and doing it in a way that is a little bit different, but that was a reflection of us.
At WEEKEND, I want us to brew really amazing coffee for our friends, neighbors and anyone who visits, but keep it simple and approachable.
So cascara (coffee cherry) tea on tap, huh? What’s the recipe? You’re kegging the stuff out, right? Talk to us about the cascara situation.
Yes! At WEEKEND, we have both the current Slingshot Coffee seasonal and our Cascara on tap. We keg it and push with a mix of CO2 and Nitro—standard beer gas mix. We also bottle our Cascara in 12 ounce bottles. We’ve been bottling it for more than a year now and selling it locally, but we just started making it available up and down the East Coast, as well. People are really loving it and it’s been exciting to get that out there.
Raleigh seems like a really exciting place to be right now. Where does Weekends fit in to that scene? Who’s doing stuff in Raleigh right now you’re stoked about?
Slingshot Coffee Co. and WEEKEND are just on the edge of the Downtown Raleigh core. We love this place. This city and the area in general is just bursting with creative things and really great people to boot. We see WEEKEND among the places that are adding to a neighborhood and making it that much better.
Craft breweries are booming, artisan chocolatiers are kicking butt, and things like Walk Your City and the Raleigh Mural Project are awesome. Bread and pastry bakeries are on point, Hopscotch Music Festival is unbeatable and the Oakwood Modern House is here!
The food scene is particularly exciting to use. After we close up at WEEKEND on a Saturday or Sunday, we’ll take you out for some good eats. Some of our favorites are Centro, Bida Manda, Beasley’s, Mecca, Poole’s, CC16, Garland, and Pho Far East.
Raleigh is so great. We’re so lucky to be a part of it.
Patio! Tell me about the patio. It seems like a chill scene.
The patio vibes are insane. You’d never know you were in an urban space when you’re on the patio. It’s situated right along a branch of the Crabtree Creek and has a massive tree canopy. It is so serene and inviting. Our friends at Arrowhead built the bar inside, as well as the patio features outside. It’s anchored in the back by a tall living wall where we want to grow herbs for some of our featured drink infusions. It’s fenced in with wood rails and wire so the view of the creek isn’t obstructed. All the wood was grown and milled about 15 miles from Slingshot, too. We have bar seating, tables and chairs, and some outdoor lounge-y furniture. And of course it’s dog-friendly.
For both of you—if you could have anyone in the history of the world, living or dead, visit your new cafe, who would it be and why?
Photos by Geoff Wood for Sprudge.com.