Tour of our Cold Brew Facility in North Hollywood

Tour of our Cold Brew Facility in North Hollywood
I absolutely love field trips…especially when they include freshly-brewed nitro cold brew. My colleague Su from Marketing took me to the cold brew facility in North Hollywood to learn how Groundwork makes our most popular summer drink. 
The Operations Manager, Vic, gave us the grand tour. Vic has been working there for about 6 years, which is a testament to how cohesively their team operates.

Mel and Vic next to cold brew tanks

My first impression was surprise at how much cold brew Groundwork pumps out from such a small facility and team. The 7-person team produces 2000 gallons on a low week and up to 3000 gallons of cold brew concentrate per week during the summer months! 

Groundwork uses the Toddy method: 21 cloth bags filled with 10.5 pounds of freshly-ground cold brew blends are steeped in each tank for 24 hours. The facility has 6 tanks, each holding 125 gallons of water, that were designed for wine-making and customized by Groundwork Coffee.

Cold brew tanks
Our cold brew method is a traditional, purposeful process. We don’t use the emerging rapid agitation methods that produce cold brew in a matter of minutes but compromise taste. Instead, we steep for the full 24 hours before decanting the cold brew concentrate into refrigerated tanks. Staying true to our environmental mission, we compost the spent grounds and reuse the toddy bags to minimize our waste. 
Next, the Classic Cold Brew concentrate is ready to be diluted, bottled, or canned.

The Nitro Cold Brew needs one more vital step: nitrogen! The cold brew concentrate destined for nitro is decanted into a separate refrigerated tank, diluted, cooled, and slowly pressurized with nitrogen gas to reach 30 psi. 
The highlight of the tour was tasting a fresh batch of Angel City Nitro right out of the sampling valve. Let me tell you, it was the best nitro cold brew I’ve ever had.
It was incomparably creamy, bright, sweet, and unmuddied by flavors that are inevitably imparted by packaging and storage. 

employee filling cold brew bottles

Groundwork packages cold brew both by hand and by machine. The (impressively quick and coordinated) employees bottle the cold brew concentrate growlers by decanting it from “the Rocket” (a huge tank that looks like its name). A bottling machine fills 4 small Classic Cold Brew bottles at a time, while the canning machine fills 5 cans at a time (45 cans per minute!). A fun science fact about nitro canning is that the machine tops off the already-nitrogenated cold brew with a little bit of liquid nitrogen to pressurize the can.

This is a common practice during canning for even non-carbonated drinks because it improves the structural stability of the can. Since nitrogen is an inert gas, it also prevents oxidation to increase shelf-life and beverage quality.  
As a result of such a small facility and such an expansive customer base, a lot of product moves through Groundwork’s cold brew facility daily to preserve both space and coffee quality. The whole process of roasting, grinding, brewing, nitrogenating, and packaging takes only about 2-3 days. Believe me, you can taste that freshness. 

Written by
Melina Devoney
Barista, Coffee Captain, Blogger