Is this cold beverage the hot new perk for Boston startups?

coldbrew2-feat

Craft beer on tap is soooo last year as an office perk.

At local tech startups like Insight Squared, Cogo Labs, and Bullhorn, there’s a new, free-flowing beverage making an appearance in the office kitchen: cold brew coffee, dispensed from its own kegerator.

Acquia chief executive Tom Erickson says his employees have dubbed it “rocket fuel,” since it’s much more caffeinated than traditional iced coffee.

“It’s pretty awesome,” says Art Papas, chief executive of Bullhorn, a Boston company that makes recruiting software, and may have been one of the first companies to offer cold brew on tap, back in January.

The two companies promoting the beverage are BostonbeaN Coffee Company in Woburn and Arlington-based Barismo.

coldbrew-featBarismo roasts the beans, grinds them, and then steeps the grounds in cold water for 24 hours. Then, it’s filtered and dispensed into kegs. (Since the beans are never exposed to hot water, the resulting beverage is less acidic and sweeter than regular iced coffee.) BostonbeaN installs the kegerator and distributes kegs to corporate customers. Erik Modahl, the coffee curator at BostonbeaN, says a keg costs about $130, and holds about 80 cups of cold brew.

I sampled some Guatemalan coffee — grown by Nando Diaz in the Santa Rosa Valley, Modahl explained — at Acquia’s new downtown Boston digs yesterday. It’s good stuff, smooth and sweet enough that it didn’t need milk or sugar. And definitely much more potent than my (occasional) afternoon iced coffee from Dunks.

Modahl says that tech companies may be early adopters — he couldn’t yet mention an ad agency or financial services firm that’s offering cold brew yet — and they don’t blink at the price. (Acquia goes through two or three kegs a day.) “It’s really a rage,” he says.

Scott Kirsner writes the Innovation Economy column every Sunday in the Boston Globe, in which he tracks entrepreneurship, investment, and big company activities around New England.
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