Trey, Benny and Kirkpatrick grew up in Macon, Miss., just outside of Starkville. Trey attended Mississippi College, receiving a bachelor's degree in graphic design in 2012. Benny also went to MC, graduating in 2015 with a bachelor's degree in foreign language and international trade. Kirkpatrick received a bachelor's degree in computer engineering in 2013 from Mississippi State University.
Trey moved to Indiana in October 2013. His original goal was to create a community-minded coffee shop as way to give kids in North Judson a community that was bigger than themselves. The fact that he was in a Chicago suburb gave him many possibilities through the connections he made in the city's coffee industry.
"When I moved there, I saw how boring the town was, and so I found it really important to give to that community," Trey told BOOM Jackson in a phone interview.
He jokes that to be successful in the industry, business owners have to sell coffee, but North Judson didn't have a big coffee-drinking culture. To open the coffee shop, he had to find funding in another area. He says many coffee-shop owners mitigate the cost of retail is by selling coffee wholesale. He was interested, but a friend in the town decided to start a coffee-roasting company, which meant his idea was off the table.
"We didn't want to compete with them in such a small town," Trey said. "So, necessity is the mother of invention. We were sitting here, needing wholesale funding, basically a way to pull in profits to support this coffee-shop model that we had that wasn't going to make a lot of money. And since wholesale roasting was off the table, we had to think of another way to sell wholesale coffee outside of this small town."
He came across nitrogen-infused cold-brew coffee, and told the brewers of South Bend, Ind., brewery, Evil Czech Brewery, about the idea. Because they had the equipment, they said, "Let's try it." Malone brewed nitro coffee and then took it to them.
"It was delicious, and they loved it, and they sold out of a keg in one afternoon," he said. "One of their brewers was like, 'Dude, you should totally do this.' And I was like, 'I don't know what this is.'" The brewer sent him a list of supplies, and the business
"It worked so well that I decided to do it in (four) other places within the first year of coming up with this crazy idea," Trey said.
In October 2015, Trey moved to Jackson to begin the city's branch of the company, Cascade on Tap.
"It felt like one of those typical start-ups," Kirkpatrick told BOOM Jackson. "The first brew we ever did was in Trey's mother- and father-in-law's garage over in Flowood. The first time we did it, it was the crappiest little set up we had, but that was the first brew we did here."
Jake Franklin, who owns Deep South Pops, was one of their first clients in Jackson, and his shop was one of the first places where they began making the nitro cold brew. With his help, the Malone brothers and Kirkpatrick launched Cascade on Tap at a "Breaking Bad"-themed Halloween party at Deep South in October 2015.
After that, they moved into an extra room at Lucky Town.
"It's been really cool interacting with all the other local businesses in the Jackson area because all the local businesses want to help each other out. There's not a sense of necessarily competition; everyone wants everyone to succeed, even if you are kind of in similar areas," Kirkpatrick said. Lucky Town and Cascade are almost doing the same thing, except with different products, he added.
The Method That Works
The nitro cold-brew coffee works much in the same way that regular cold-brew coffee does, except that they keg after they brew it. The brewing system for the coffee was something of Trey's design.
He says he didn't like the Toddy system that many coffee shops use, which employs full-immersion extraction, where the coffee is fully immersed in water, sits for about 24 hours and is then filtered.
When Trey first started doing nitro coffee, he used full-immersion extraction because that's the only way he knew. After discovering that he didn't even like coffee from a French press, which he said is basically a full-immersion method for hot coffee, he began to search for another method to brew the nitro coffee.
"A part of my honesty as a businessman is I'm never going to make someone else drink something that I don't enjoy," he says. "Even if they have different taste buds than mine, I want to be able to back up my product."
He came across an invention in Japan called the Kyoto Tower, which was a slow-drip coffee brewer. For that method, the brewer puts coffee into a grounds chamber over the top of a filter. The person puts cold or room-temperature water in the water chamber above the filter, and then pulls a valve to release the water over the grounds, which go drop by drop into the lower chamber.
He tasted coffee from a Kyoto Tower and realized the problem wasn't cold brew itself (he had originally begun to suspect it was), but the extraction method. The biggest that the towers can go is about a quart, so he said he was going to need something bigger for nitro coffee. He saw a hopper for a coffee grinder that he had used and realized that it was shaped similarly to the middle portion of the Kyoto Tower. He built a wooden structure to hold the hopper over a bucket, and then built a bigger bucket over that and set a slow drip on a water spigot. The next day, he said he had 5 gallons of the best cold-brew coffee he had ever tasted.
The metal ones currently used at Cascade are different models than the original and are more efficient, quicker and brew better coffee.
"It's very important to see (nitro coffee) as its own industry, and not just falling in line with what is status quo in the rest of the industry," he says.
"... The way that I came up with (the brewing system) is that I saw what I wanted to create, and then I threw out the manual for what everyone else was telling me to way to there, and I wrote it myself."
Cascade also brews kombucha, which is fermented tea, and kegs it.
Currently, the business has nitro coffee at local locations, including Cups Espresso Cafe in Fondren, Deep South, Saltine Oyster Bar and Fusion Coffee House in Ridgeland.
For more information, visit cascadebeverage.com.