When coffee’s in your blood and you’re an entrepreneur in the business—chances are you’re not going be caught napping when the next big trend opportunity arrives.
That’s exactly the story of John Goerke, who started the Caribbean Coffee Co. (CCC) back in 1986—back when Starbucks was a five-store chain. Twenty-five years later, Goerke says he found the US wholesale coffee industry much larger, more competitive—and literally much more of a grind. It was then, in 2011, that he began shifting from the coffee bean business and experimenting with cold coffee alternatives.
By 2014, cold coffee had become a large part of CCC’s business and Goerke even had invented a proprietary brewing and kegging technology. The following year, CCC brought in new partners and rolled out a new name: Bona Fide Brewing Company. In 2016 then, this Goleta, Calif., company started a regional direct-store-delivery (DSD) business with nitro-infused cold coffee, called Bona Fide Craft Draft.
Today finds Bona Fide Brewing at exactly the right place—at the right time. That’s because cold brew is the fastest growing segment within the coffee industry and cold and nitro brew coffees are helping specialty retailers like Starbucks dramatically grow cold beverage sales at double-digit rates.
Where’s the competitive entry point for restaurants, independent coffee bars and others? That’s where Bona Fide comes in. Working in select West Coast markets, the company offers turnkey DSD service with kegs of nitro cold brew coffees, latte and teas. Five of 10 offerings are organic and the service also includes dispensing equipment, marketing materials and more. A Bona Fide Brewing Alliance program also means Bona Fide will keg for other well-known local and regional coffee brands.
“The traditional methodology of making cold brew coffee in home beer kegs in the back room—while pouring it on-tap in the front—is both messy and time consuming. It’s also not scalable, and difficult to distribute in wholesale trade,” Goerke notes. “Restaurants and bars love the effortlessness of pouring a neat and impressive nitro beverage with minimal effort. Millennials demand authentic products with verified sustainability. Our transformative process uses no chemical preservatives, artificial fillers and guarantees a refrigerated shelf life of 90 days. We have perfected the art of brewing and kegging so operators don’t have to.”
To Goerke’s point of sustainability, each BFCD keg holds more than 80 servings and officials estimate a single keg saves an operator more than 20 filters, 10 gallons of water, 1.5 pounds of roasted coffee, and 1-½ hours of labor.
Meanwhile one loyal operator is Alena Cable, foodservice manager for Santa Barbara City College, Santa Barbara, Calif.
“Disruptive innovation is often defined as the kind of innovation that creates new markets. Bona Fide’s fair trade certified, organic Craft Draft Coffee ‘On Tap’ has certainly been such an innovation — and since its introduction on campus, it has been received with incredible enthusiasm by students and staff,” she says. “Our coffee and tea sales have seen exponential growth and our carbon footprint has been reduced. It’s been a win-win-win!”