Last week, Gary – Founder of Beanbag coffee visited us to sample his cold brew coffee. After seeing some big names posting about it on social media as there go-to pre-workout caffeine hit, we couldn’t wait to see what the hype was all about… We were left buzzing after his epic story of starting the business and from the amazing taste of the different flavours of the brew that he has so cleverly crafted. Read on to find out more…
What did you do before you started Beanbag Coffee?
My first job was at the weekend – a local market on a fruit and veg stall, at 16 I got offered a job at Barclays as a cashier, then moved on from there to hold various positions within the city to the age of 30….then I decided I wanted a career change and a break from the banking world so I decided to go to Thailand to study Muay Thai. This is where I actually grew my passion for coffee. I came back to the UK and qualified as an Urban Krav Maga instructor and at the same time took a job as a junior barista at knot coffee Clapham junction to learn more about coffee.
How did you learn how to brew coffee and how did you come up with your recipes?
I learned how to brew coffee in Thailand through muslin cloth (our local coffee place at the gym was ‘old-man’ coffee). I then learned about barista made coffee when I returned back to the UK. I then spent months on my own in the kitchen perfecting the brew through many times of brewing and trialling different blends.
My recipes are based on the region of the world the brewing method and beans come from. In Thailand peanuts are used in a lot of their dishes and in India coconut and spices are used a lot in both food and drinks so to me its trying to use local ingredients to where the brewing and beans originate….. then all of my ideas are tested on customers through weekly specials and I now visit gyms where i’m stocked to trial new flavour ideas.
Has sourcing ingredients been a challenge? Where do they come from and how did you go about finding them?
Yes! Firstly beans, took me over 6 months of trialling different blends to find the perfect one. Then finding the right peanut and coconut source that worked with this coffee has been trial and error. I sat down with various peanut butters and coconut oil/milk/flesh and added coffee, tested over a period of time and now have (I think) perfected it!
What have been some struggles along the way?
On a personal level my father died a few days after I started trading so it was hard to cope but throwing myself into work helped.
Solely using Robusta has been a huge struggle – the coffee world thinks that Robusta is merely commodity coffee that is burnt, woody, bitter – and it has a poor reputation. I spent time carefully sourcing the worlds best Robusta and perfecting the blend and I would like to think I’ve helped change peoples opinions.
Also trying to convince people that the flavours I create actually taste great! Initially the majority of people were dismissive even without trying but now I’m building up a cult customer base.
How many shots or bottles of coffee would you recommend having a day?
I would suggest 2 bottles. The caffeine content is approx 90-95mg/100ml so this is high. Although the ingredients we blend into the coffee do indeed slow down absorption of caffeine as it binds with fat.
What is your favourite flavour and which one is the most popular?
I’m a sucker for peanut coffee, absolutely love it. Deep notes of chocolate, nuts, and coffee – it’s a winner. During the summer though coconut is a winner … I would say it’s a 60/40 split with coconut on top!
Where can we buy your coffee?
Gyms / Studios:
Cafes / supermarkets:
Can you explain MCT to us? as it’s an ingredient in your coffees?
MCT is a healthy saturated fat which can contribute to increased energy which can also increase weight loss. Raw unsweetened coconut is rich in MCT and this is what we use in our coconut drinks. I’m not claiming that the coconut drink will make you lose weight but it tastes great, is high in caffeine and its made using organic unsweetened coconut flesh.
How does Beanbag cold brew fuel a workout?
Well each drink packs an impressive minimum 90mg caffeine per 100ml so this in its own right will keep you going! Using ingredients such as ginger, turmeric, cinnamon and coconut flesh has been shown to lower inflammation and give increased energy levels, peanut is high in carbs and protein – when coupled with caffeine makes the perfect recovery drink!
What exciting things have you got in the pipeline for the brand this year?
You’re going to see our drinks being used in the cocktail industry (for both cocktails and mocktails) Drinks like espresso martini are in need of innovation so using peanut coffee to create a great alternative is going to happen.
In April I’m working on my new flavours for later this year (release in august/September) and in the summertime you might just see our drink in Copenhagen.
You’ll also see us at Active Man events around London and instore on The King’s Road!