It’s a fun time to be a coffee lover. There’s a veritable arms race of individuals creating new and interesting ways to use coffee outside of what is normally found in the mug. Cold brew gummy bears, coffee dinners, coffee chocolate, sparkling coffee sodas, and all manner of alcoholic coffee beverages, the ways in which people are transforming the humble seed of the coffee cherry into some new type of food or beverage is seemingly endless and endlessly enjoyable.
And now, green coffee is getting in on the fun thanks to New York’s Olas Coffee. Steeping single-origin green coffees, Olas has created a sparkling green coffee beverage that puts coffee in an entirely new paradigm.
Fermented with cane sugar using live bacteria and yeast cultures, the nearest touchstone to Olas’ Sparkling Green Coffee is kombucha. But not coffee kombucha, which often tastes like drinking old, stale coffee with a little extra funk added to it. Sparkling Green Coffee, on the other hand, doesn’t taste like coffee at all, but something unique unto itself.
Along with a subtle fruitiness and slight funk kombucha drinkers will immediately pick up on, Sparkling Green Coffee by Olas takes things in an entirely different direction with flavor notes like peas, lemongrass, bell peppers, and jalapeños. Most coffee roasters and cuppers will recognize these wilder flavor calls as roast defects associated with underdevelopment. Which in this case, technically, is true; the green coffee hasn’t been roasted at all. But by presenting these flavors in a new context, they are able to be experienced per se and not as an indicator of anything. As Sparking Green Coffee creator Jeremiah Borrego explains to Sprudge:
The flavor notes in defective roasts are not inherently distasteful but I felt they were usually lost overall when their characteristic grassy-ness, sharp acidity with weak body came with it. When I brewed the coffee green and fermented it I was able to access those “defective” flavors in a way that was balanced.
And indeed, the results are actually quite tasty (once you get over the initial shock of “oh this isn’t coffee at all”). It’s a semi-sweet semi-spicy, slightly effervescent medium bodied kombuchish beverage, like a Bloody Mary’s refreshing, non-alcoholic cousin.
More than just a fun new presentation of everyone’s favorite beverage, and arguably the most unadulteratedly terroir-driven one at that, Borrego sees a more widespread adoption of Sparkling Green Coffee—not just his own but from other fermenters as well—as having the potential to positively impact the coffee industry. He lists among the possible upsides a viable use for aged green coffee, reducing specialty coffee’s reliance on Arabica, a means of “vintaging” coffees—“The sample I have from my very first test batch a year ago is still drinkable, currently it tastes like honey water”—and as a means of bringing in a whole new consumer set who otherwise “don’t like coffee.”
And while the ultimate adoption of this new form of coffee along with its potential benefits remain to be seen, for now Sparkling Green Coffee is an interesting new way to experience coffee that tastes nothing like coffee at all. For those looking to give it a try, Sparkling Green Coffee by Olas is currently available through wholesale partners, by the glass at Otway, Celestine, Rucola, Gem, and Abraço in New York City or by the bottle as Oliver Coffee. As production grows, Borrego hopes to make bottles available for purchase nationwide, but for now, it's an NYC exclusive. For more information about Sparkling Green Coffee, visit Olas Coffee’s official website.
All images via Olas Coffee