Made in Georgia: Decatur's Banjo Cold Brew coffee ready to help you "Caffeinate Responsibly"

Do you often feel you're fueled by coffee ? Then you have something in common with Billy and Chasidy Atchison, founders of the Banjo Cold Brew coffee company. Especially with Billy.

“I was training for an ultramarathon and making cold brew coffee every night, experimenting with different ways of making it, drinking it every morning. While I didn’t make it all the way through the race, I did drink a lot of good coffee,” he remembers.

What exactly is cold brew coffee? It’s coffee made by using room temperature or cold water to extract the flavor from coffee beans and generally takes 12 to 24 hours. No boiling water. No quick cup of coffee in 5 minutes or less. The variables of time, temperature, beans, grind and more make a cup of coffee that is lower in acid and higher in caffeine.

Billy’s experiments resulted in many Mason jars of cold brew and led the couple to launch their business in 2015. Their partner is longtime friend Sebastian Kegel. They say Billy was drawn into business by a love of the coffee and she was interested in the local food movement and building a business that would be sustainable. Their motto, “Caffeinate Responsibly,” is also their business model.

Those Mason jars were part of product development in the early days. “We made different types of coffee and sampled them on a daily basis. Then we went to Americus and met with the people at Cafe Campesino,” says Chasidy.

The Americus-based fair trade coffee roaster connects 100-percent organic small-scale coffee farmers with consumers. “They have great relationships with their farmers and that’s not something we could have developed overnight. We value their ethical sourcing and that’s something we focus on in all the purchase decisions we make,” says Chasidy.

Credit: C. W. Cameron

Credit: C. W. Cameron

Working with Cafe Campesino, and knowing they enjoyed Central and South American coffee, they settled on two different blends for their cold brew products. “Our Pitch Black unsweetened coffee is made with a Central American blend while our Sweetly Tuned is made with a South American blend and sweetened with cane sugar,” says Billy.

“We like rich, full-bodied coffees with chocolate and toffee notes and that’s the flavor profile we feel we’ve achieved after six months of product development,” he adds. “The coffee beans make the difference. It’s like wine. Each brings different elements and they show up vividly in this style of coffee. We take it as seriously as a wine sommelier would their craft.”

They brew their coffee in Shared Kitchens in Decatur. They make ten to 20 gallon batches at a time, brewing between 100 and 200 gallons a week. Production is increasing as their product makes its way onto the shelves at Whole Foods and in Kroger as well as specialty grocers and natural food stores, and as events like the Shaky Knees Festival crank up for the summer.

They stay connected to the consumer by selling at ten local farmers markets from Sunday mornings at Avondale Estates to Mondays in Kennesaw and Saturdays in Brookhaven. And if the customer forgot to stock up at the store or farmers market, they can get a caffeine fix via Uber Eats or Zifty at any time.

Yes, there’s a decaffeinated version available as well, made to order.

What’s in store for Banjo Cold Brew? They are planning what they say will be Atlanta’s first coffee brewery which they plan to open this fall and they’re working on distributing their coffee regionally.

What keeps them going besides coffee? For Chasidy it’s the chance to build a business from the ground up in keeping with the couple’s principles. The actor in Billy loves the “applause” he says they receive when people enjoy a product they’ve so carefully crafted.

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