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A food blog from NHPR news, digital, & programming staff, exploring food & food culture around the state & the New England region. On-air features air Thursdays on All Things Considered and Saturdays during Weekend Edition.

A Sixpack Of Coffee At Your Cookout?

Michael Samuels


A Bedford coffee roaster offers a different kind of buzz.

Say you’re at a cookout this weekend celebrating the Fourth. It’s hot out and you want a cold drink.

“Here is our traditional Chill, which is a blend,” says Claudia Barrett as she opens bottles and pours out samples of her new product. “This is all base note, all body, ready to go in a twelve ounce beer bottle.”

But it's not beer. It's coffee.

Barrett is the owner of CQ Coffee Roasters in Bedford, a specialty coffee roaster that treats coffee like fine wine, with tasting notes and single-origin terroirs.

Now, CQ is branching out with cold-brewed coffees, including Chill, which is more like a craft beer.

Barrett is also experimenting with putting Chill in a Guinness tap, where it comes out looking just like that classic dark beer.

This coffee even tastes like a dark beer. “We made it all of a very base-note coffee, where you're getting all that chocolate, all that nougat goodness, from a coffee that's been steeped over 18 to 24 hours,” Barrett explains.

Cold brew coffee is fairly new in the state, she says, and CQ's beer-like incarnation is only at two cafes so far: D Squared Java in Exeter has bottles, and Key West in Goffstown has Chill on tap.

But Barrett also hopes to see this brew start showing up alongside actual beer, as a non-alcoholic alternative that still blends in at a bar – although no bar has been willing to try a coffee keg just yet.

But bottles are on the shelves on the other side of Bedford, at the brand-new, fourth branch of the Wine'ing Butcher.

Robert Smith senior, one of the founders and co-owners of the market, says he thinks there's a place for cold-brew alongside more traditional food and drink at cookouts this summer. “Maybe you start out with the coffee and then go to the beer, as long as you buy the meat that can go on the grill that'll be fine,” Smith says with a grin.

Andrew Arguin, another co-owner, imagines taking the coffee-and-meat pairing a step further. “You know, meat recipes like pork chop recipes or even tenderloin recipes, you'll find a lot that actually have coffee grinds within the recipes,” he says. While the Wine'ing Butcher doesn't have CQ coffee marinated meat at the moment, Arguin says it's not as far-fetched an idea as it may sound.

In any case, it's certain there's at least one Fourth of July cookout with bottles of this cold brew. “I know I'm going to be offering my guests a whole bunch of single-origin coffees,” says Barrett.

Between the heat and the meat and the beer, summer cookouts can get pretty sleepy pretty fast. But Barrett's friends and family will be up all night.

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