Instant Cold Brew Coffee with Cusa Coffee

cusa coffee logoWho doesn’t love a good cuppa coffee? All right, I don’t want to hear from you if you don’t like coffee. This probably isn’t the post for you to read! But, on the assumption that you do like coffee, you’re gonna be very interested to hear about Cusa Coffee from Cusa Tea Company. Founded by beverage enthusiast Jim Lamancusa and based in my home town of Boulder, Colorado, the company is known much more for its instant teas. Yes, no teabag, no mess, no hassles, just dehydrated tea in a wide variety of vegan, gluten-free herbal and premium caffeine teas. His motivation was to be able to enjoy a good drink while backpacking or in the back country (yes, typical Boulderite) but this sort of product is just as useful at work, home, or on the road.

The 800 pound gorilla in this space is Starbucks with its VIA line of microground dehydrated coffees, but after succeeding in the launch of its tea line (a total of 13 variations on that theme) the company has expanded into coffee. Currently there are three roasts available: Light, Medium and Dark, and there might be more coming – they’re experimenting with some interesting flavor variations too. The difference is that instead of using high heat or extreme cold dehydration techniques, Cusa Coffee is using a “gentle botanical extraction technology” for the coffee. No bitterness, no burnt taste.

So… what’s it like? Cusa Coffee sent me a sampler pack to check it out. First off, here’s the bright, cheery packaging:

cusa coffee boulder - dehydrated dark roast cold brew

You can see that two more unusual flavors were included for me to try out: Vanilla Coffee and Lemon Coffee. Lemon Coffee? Hmm… haven’t tried it yet, but I’m expecting a surprising flavor combination there, and of course everything’s better with vanilla so I’m sure that’ll be delicious.

Since I like a strong, dark cold brew coffee when I make my own or get it at the local café, I decided to try the Dark Roast packet. In the company’s collateral there’s an attractive dark blue packaging, but I got metallic. The recommendation is to mix the coffee with 8oz of water. That’s a cup. So here I am, coffee warrior, weapons at the ready:

cusa coffee boulder - cold brew making kit

You can see that I’ve already put some coffee into my glass and it looks (and smells) great. It’s also not a huge amount of coffee, so my expectation is a modest cup, not something that’ll fill a big tumbler.

I poured in the water and gave it a vigorous stir for 5-10 seconds, as recommended. The result:

cusa coffee boulder - dark roast

As you can see, not particularly dark for a dark roast, but I suspect that if the company just put another 10% into each packet it’d work better for me. Or it’s possible I just like really strong coffee and need to use two packets for a strong 12oz glass of cold brew!

Once I added a drop of half-and-half and a few ice cubes, it is indeed a delicious beverage ready to drink:

cusa coffee boulder - cold brew ready to drink

Doesn’t that look good? It is. In fact, it’s an interesting taste because it doesn’t have any burnt or bitter aftertaste so it’s somewhat delicate if I can say that about a coffee. There’s also a hint of an herbal aftertaste that’s unusual, but it’s good, actually. Overall, I’ve become a fan and really am enjoying this cold brew while working this morning. If you like Starbucks VIA or other instant coffee but want an option that’s healthier and “lighter” in its taste, you should definitely check out Cusa Coffee. And if you’re a tea drinker, the Cusa Tea line is pretty darn fun…

Cusa Coffee is currently on Kickstarter – back ’em @ $15 for a great sampler pack of 21 packets – and then will appear on the Cusa Tea Web site. I expect that the retail price per package of 7 coffee packets should be $7.99, so just a bit more than $1/cup for tasty hot or cold brew coffee. A lot cheaper than Starbucks drive thru, eh?

Disclosure: Jim and the team at Cusa Coffee sent me the samples to taste and write about. Thanks, Cusa Tea!

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