Big Watt rolls out cold press coffee line

Credit: Caleb Garn (l), Jason Westplate and Lee Carter sample their Big Watt cold press coffee. Photo by Michelle Bruch

The founders of Five Watt Coffee are joining with other entrepreneurs to sell “Big Watt” cold press coffee in cans.

A cold beverage line has been part of the vision since the origins of Five Watt in late 2013, when founders Lee Carter and Caleb Garn spent half the day on demo work and half the day in the office basement.

“We spent a lot of time brainstorming Five Watt and what we wanted to do with it,” Carter said. “Caleb really wanted to do cold press in bottles. At the time, no one was really doing it in the city. I wanted to start making sodas in-house.”

A new hub at 2904 Harriet Ave. S. (a former auto shop) will produce the drinks. Long-term plans call for a retail operation there as well, sort of a hybrid between a coffee bar and tap room.

Though bottled coffee drinks often contain loads of sugar and additives, Big Watt Circuit Bender is nothing more than coffee and water.

“We don’t need stabilizers or preservatives,” said Carter.

The practice hasn’t been common — when Carter picked up a Starbucks beverage simply labeled “coffee” at a roadside gas station on the way home from Chicago, he found it tasted more like a sweet vanilla concoction than a simple cold press.

It took a year of work to figure out how to make a shelf-stable drink without additives or preservatives. They found mentors in St. Paul’s Burning Brothers Brewery, a gluten-free brewery that had to think outside the box to brew.

The Circuit Bender cold press contains slightly more than a double shot of espresso. Carter likened the caffeine content to drinking a Coke with dinner.

“We didn’t spike it,” said Garn.

Another drink, Big Watt’s Circuit Breaker, is an energy drink alternative served in an eight-ounce can with a “stronger punch” and higher caffeine content.

The Winter of ’83 (named for the snowiest winter), is a cold press made with cedar, spruce and maple.

The Summer of ’36 (named for the hottest month of July on record) is made with three different peppers, agave and apricot.

They’re also working on a soda line and water with cocktail bitters, a move that’s “second nature for anyone who has bitters and CO2 on hand,” Carter said.

Aside from Carter and Garn, partners in the venture include beverage consultant Jason Westplate, Shawn Person of Roundtable Coffee Works, and businessman Alex Gese.

Big Watt is already on tap at restaurants like Heyday and Nighthawks. It will soon become available at Lunds & Byerlys and local BP gas stations.