Behind the Beans

Photographs by Paige Heeter
Above: Cofounders Justin Weinstein, Jarrett McGovern and Grant Gyesky

Back in their Brunswick School days, classmates Jarrett McGovern, Grant Gyesky and Justin Weinstein would percolate ideas for entrepreneurial success during their free periods. “The idea was to find something we could do that would have us retired by forty,” laughs Gyesky.

Since the friends (now in their thirties) launched a start-up to sell their delicious cold brew, nitrogen-infused Rise coffee in Brooklyn’s Colonie restaurant last year, they have put their youthful imaginings on the fast track. Their intriguing chilled beverage—which boasts an extra caffeine kick—has developed a cult following with coffee lovers at the corporate headquarters of Facebook, ESPN, the Creative Artists Agency and the NBA, as well as several Fairfield County eateries.

Business is growing so fast (the guys are now brewing more than 1,000 kegs a month) that the start-up has moved from its humble beginnings in McGovern’s Manhattan apartment to bigger digs in an industrial space in Stamford’s Waterside neighborhood.

Recently, two of the founders sat down for a mug of their frothy brew and filled us in on the buzz.

HOMEGROWN
A few years ago, coffee-lover McGovern started making cold brew in his one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan’s East Village. His buddies liked it so much they began experimenting with ways to make more in less time. “It was taking a day to make four cups,” says McGovern, explaining the method that involves steeping coffee grounds for several hours. Eventually they began steeping the grounds in a large sixty- gallon stainless steel coffee serving station (that the guys nicknamed Jerome) and introduced the infusion of nitrogen to add volume. The chemistry equipment needed for the brew made it look “like something straight out of the set of Breaking Bad,” says Gyesky.

NOT YOUR TYPICAL CUP OF JOE
A mug of Rise is a bit like a caffeinated cross between a Guinness and a designer cup of joe. Poured over ice, thebrew’s foamy cap resembles that of a dark lager—or a root- beer float—but tastes like rich espresso blended with creamy dairy. It hits some of the same sweet notes as a coffeehouse latte, yet it’s dairy-free and racks up less than five guilt-free calories a mug.

WHAT MAKES IT SO GOOD
McGovern explains that the secret to Rise’s thick pour and deceivingly decadent taste is a complicated brewing process, which renders the beverage about 80 percent less acidic than regular coffee (hence its smoother, creamier taste). After the beans are roasted, they sit for a few days to allow the carbon dioxide to escape; they are then ground to a specific size optimal for the cold brew process and placed in brewing vessels. Once the coffee reaches the desired strength, it is transferred into a large tank and chilled while nitrogen is infused. The end result produces a product with one-and-a-half times the caffeine of a regular cup of coffee.

THE GREAT BEAN SEARCH
After tasting jaunts to countries throughout Latin America, the Rise team settled on beans from a Fair Trade organic farm in Peru. “We wanted the kind of company where knowing the people who pick our beans earn a fair wage and are treated well, matters,” explains McGovern.

WHY NOT HOT?
Traditionally brewed hot coffee is available at Rise’s pop-up shop on the Lower East Side, but the founders are sticking with the cold version, sold in kegs and single-serving portable cans for retail consumption. “Right now we think cold brew is our niche,” says Gyesky.

WHERE IT POURS LOCALLY
The Granola Bar, Green & Tonic and Aux Délices shops

Justin, Grant and Jarrett with Rise team members Melissa Bishop and Hudson Gaines-Ross

WHAT FANS SAY

“It’s incredibly FRESH, VERY SMOOTH and doesn’t need any added calories to make it delicious,”
—Julie Mountain, cofounder of The Granola Bar restaurants in Westport, Greenwich and Stamford, where she pours Rise on tap

 

 

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