The story of Long Island’s own Sail Away Coffee

Sail Away bottle Edit copy

On Coffee

Coffee, as a beverage and a lifestyle, has greatly evolved in North America over the past 30 years. Once a commodity only consumed through the likes of brands such as Folgers, coffee was mass-produced and distributed until the 1980’s. Sure, there were a few specialty coffee shops here and there… but no one had ever heard the word “Starbucks.”

When the co-founder of the coffee giant introduced the idea of the latte to the west coast, specialty and craft-roasted coffee exploded across the country. The increased use of Italy’s espresso method, where a high-powered machine pulls finely ground coffee rapidly through a filter via extreme pressure and temperature, allowed other methods to come to the forefront as well. Soon, French Presses became common in households and coffee shops began popping up on every corner offering many choices to suit customers’ preferences.

Where hot coffee was once the only option, menus gave way to new innovations like iced coffee, flavored lattes, and frappuccinos. The rising popularity of enjoying coffee cold, a relatively new idea, drives innovation that has produced new methods for enjoying what we love about coffee – the flavor and energy it delivers – without having to consume a hot beverage.

Sail Away Coffee is Born

The story of Sail Away Coffee begins during a backpacking trip to Colombia. Founder Chris Vetter was backpacking through the cities and developed a deep love of coffee from being surrounded by the sprawling farms and rolling mountainsides on which it is grown. That love and knowledge of coffee was developed further during a later tour through Central America, another coffee-producing region. While Chris’ band was touring, he developed a palate for coffee and knew exactly what he wanted to create: a ready-to-drink cold coffee that was smooth and mellow with the chocolately tones commonly associated with the Central American growing region.

A Growth Story

Bringing his knowledge and love of coffee back to Long Island, Chris began experimenting. He loved the natural sweetness of cold brewed iced coffee. He imported his favorite coffees from the places he visited in South and Central America and partnered with a local roaster to small-batch roast them to his own specifications. Starting with small pots on his countertop and eventually a 5-gallon iced coffee brewing system, Chris perfected what would become Captain’s Blend – the base of Sail Away’s signature ready-to-drink iced coffee.

Sail Away Coffee was launched last summer (2015) in Huntington. The operation was feeble at first, with Chris renting commercial kitchen space at a catering company to brew and bottle the iced coffee exclusively after hours. Heading out to farmer’s markets on Long Island, Sail Away Coffee’s signature product was introduced to coffee drinkers. It was an instant hit.

By October of 2015, bottling and distribution had begun to local Long Island stores and restaurants. Chris and his only employee began making house calls to businesses to introduce themselves and their product. Their strategy was to build business during the off-peak season on the island to have a strong foothold going into this summer. It worked. The coffee, in its bottled ready-to-drink form and on tap via kegged iced coffee is now available across Long Island while it celebrates just its first birthday. Sail Away Coffee is now a team of four professionals and coffee lovers from all over the Eastern seaboard in addition to a street team of samplers for promotions and events.  They recently expanded into their first HQ, a 2000 sq. ft. facility in Deer Park where they brew, bottle, and keg their cold brew iced coffee.

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Cold Brew vs. Nitro Iced Coffee

Besides packaged whole bean coffee, Sail Away offers two types of iced coffee that can be readily consumed: bottled cold brew and kegged nitro iced coffee from a tap which is available at bars at restaurants throughout Long Island. Both are brewed with the same blend but their bodies are very different.

Sail Away’s bottled cold brew is a delicious on-the-go option that contains higher caffeine content than your standard iced coffee and is deliciously refreshing and effective.

Sail Away’s nitro iced coffee, on the other hand, comes from a tap and keg system. It is cascading and creamy, resembling an oatmeal stout beer when poured. It is called “nitro iced coffee” because it is infused with nitrogen gas and the resulting pressure during release through the tap creates a delicious and silky mouthfeel and full-bodied taste with robust flavor notes of chocolate.  

The Long Island Cold Brew

Sail Away Coffee was ahead of the trend. Starbucks, who only launched cold brew coffee last year, recently announced that they will install taps and begin serving nitro iced coffee from kegs in a select handful of test stores across the country. The cold brew and nitro trends are part of the changing landscape of coffee and Sail Away is at the forefront of this innovation.

Sail Away’s name and brand is built on a poignant Mark Twain quote that struck a chord with Chris. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor.” Besides the maritime references that tie the brand to Long Island, Sail Away prides itself on educating the people on what cold brew iced coffee is and why it’s better.

Sail Away’s nitro iced coffee is available on tap at Bistro 72 for direct consumption and also part of a new series of cocktails. Black coffee die-hards, we invite you to come by and try the creamy perfection.

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The next time you dine at Bistro 72, enjoy the nitro iced coffee suited for any time of day.