Summer is around the corner, which means it’s about to be cold brew season. (Hallelujah.)
However, one company has created a way to chill fresh coffee that apparently makes it taste better than cold brew. Founded in 2012, Elemental Beverage Company‘s Snapchiller technology (side note: Great Marvel villain name) can chill a 12-ounce cup of hot coffee to a pre-set temperature in 60 seconds. This process makes a chilled cup of joe faster than cold brew, requires fewer beans, and has a fuller range of flavor.
We first saw the company’s technology in action at the Specialty Coffee Expo back in 2018, when it was still called the Cafe Cold Wave. This year Elemental sized up their tech has begun pre-selling the machines for $5995.
I can certainly see higher-end coffee shops investing in the Snapchiller as a faster, cleaner, and cooler-looking alternative to cold brew. But perhaps a bigger market opportunity is Elemental’s new canned Snapchilled coffees, which the company unveiled at the Specialty Coffee Expo this past April.
So far the company has released three varietals featuring single-origin beans from farms in Ethiopia, Columbia, and Burundi. Ryan McDonnell, Elemental’s Chief Coffee and Tea Officer, told me in a phone interview that they’re planning to change the coffees a couple of times per year depending on what’s in season (yes, coffee is seasonal!)
The canned coffees launched in early May on Elemental’s website and are already on backorder. A 6-pack will set you back $29.95, which shakes out to a little under $5 a can — it’s not cheap, but also not significantly more than what you’d pay for a cold brew from your local coffee shop.
It also tastes way better. I tried Elemental’s new canned coffees and came to the conclusion that yes, they are indeed a level up from regular cold brew. The coffee was clean, light, and super smooth, without a hint of bitterness. Each coffee also had an incredibly distinct flavor. The back of the cans had details about the processing methods, origin, and tasting notes of each coffee bean. After drinking some I think it’ll be hard to go back to the bland smoothness of regular cold brew.
While Elemental’s canned Snapchilled coffee might be worth the price tag, they also offer a super high-end product that is a bit more of a reach. The company sells a 750 mL bottle of rare Gesha coffee that will set you back — wait for it — $235.
If that price sounds truly shocking to you, well, it did for me too. But according to McDonnell, it’s all worth it. The limited-batch bottles are made with beans that score 90+ on the Coffee Quality Institute’s Q Grading Scale, which puts them in the top 0.1 percent. The beans also cost a whopping $450 a pound.
Elemental also sent me some of this pricey coffee, which comes in what looks like a fine whiskey bottle. It’s packaged along with two tulip glasses that are meant to be frozen before serving. The Gesha will keep for at least two months in the fridge but once its opened is meant to be drunk quickly, like champagne. I tried some of this fancy-pants brew and it was… crazy delicious. Smooth, fruity, and light, I would gladly start every summer day with a cup of the stuff. But would I ever shell out over 200 bucks for it? Not a chance.’
Apparently, plenty of people would. McDonnell said the Gesha coffees are almost out of stock. They plan to keep offering distinctive, higher-end brews highlighting rare beans “on a regular basis.”
Elemental isn’t in retail yet, but they’re doing cold brew pop-ups around their home base of Boston. We could chalk their early inventory sell-out as just a company getting their footing with a new product, but it doesn’t bode well if these Snapchilled coffees take off.
I’m betting that they will, at least once they head into retail. Consumers — especially Gen Z — are starting to care more and more about their coffee, seeking out specialized and sustainable brews. In a sea of bottled and canned cold brews, Elemental’s chilled coffee stands out with its high quality, sourcing transparency, and nuance of flavor.
Cold brew, watch out. It’s Snapchill season.