TR Robertson –Joe Henschel did not expect to be the owner of a Cold Brew Coffee business when he was working for a tech company in Orange County and making a comfortable income; but the opportunity to join with friends in a brand-new company, supplying delicious artisan cold brew coffee to businesses and homes, was too good to pass up. The fact that he also loved coffee helped in his decision and The Steeping Giant would come to Vista.
Joe was an avid beer brewer and in 2014 helped establish Bear Roots Brewing in Vista. He began working for a tech company in Orange County in 2016 and that same year met Michael and Anthony Herrera who were producing and delivering cold brew coffee mostly to homes. The more he spoke with the brothers, the more he became interested in the possibilities a new business model could be developed for their company expanding the business. Joe saw the possibilities when the tech company he worked for installed one of the cold brew kegerators in their employee room and the success that was generated. In 2017, Joe invested with the company and his concept grew and by 2018 between 15-20 business accounts had been added and they were delivering around 50 kegs a month. Joe stepped away from the tech company and in 2018, took over as CEO of the business that was located in San Marcos. In 2019, Joe and the investors decided a bigger building was needed. A spot at 2588 Progress St., #16 became available, but the back area was still being used by a mechanic. This company was in the process of moving out and Joe, his wife Stacy and partner Anthony would begin designing how the interior needed to look and what they needed to build and remove to make a cold coffee brewing operation work. Joe said he spent hours researching the requirements for what specifics needed to be added and built to pass the Public Health certifications for their business.
In January through February of 2019, they were off and running in acquiring and building what was needed, then the COVID pandemic hit in March of 2020. Joe had to shut the company down, lay off employees and collect unemployment for a while to make ends meet. By June of 2020, they were able to partially reopen as they began delivering their cold brew coffee to homes and providing pick-up at the business. Joe said they were able to obtain one county stimulus grant and two Vista city grants to help keep their doors open. In November of 2020, The Steeping Giant obtained some larger seasonal accounts which was great news, but that same month Anthony Herrera, one of the investors and partners, suffered a fatal heart attack, shocking Joe, and The Steeping Giant family. By 2021, Joe was able to bring on Luke Hirst as Operations Manager and he has recently hired Caden Campbell who is learning the cold brew coffee business. Joe said they have already seen a 30% increase in sales since 2021 and are proud that they are the only cold brew coffee company that is currently able to deal with the volume of cold brew requested by businesses and personal home purchases.
In a morning interview with Joe, he pointed out that the #1 key to their cold brew is the coffee supplier they have for their product. The Steeping Giant uses two types of coffee beans supplied by Doug Novak from La Costa Roasting. For their Dark Roast they use a single origin bean from Honduras and a Gargantua blend with beans from Ethiopia, Indonesia, and South America. They use commercial grinders capable of grinding larger amounts of coffee so everything stays fresh. The Steeping Giant also uses a customized water system made by Dime Water which enables them to blend the value of the water they want for their product. They now have the capacity to store 3,000 gallons of water a day for their cold brew coffee. In a tour of the facility, Joe explained the incredible process used to brew and produce just the right flavor artisan coffee they supply. He said their process produces coffee that is far less acidic than hot coffee and due to this the taste requires less cream and sugar, if you are used to adding those items to your coffee. If you like your coffee black, then you are in for a great tasting cold brew coffee just the way it comes out of their brew tanks.
The Steeping Giant distribution process uses a self-distribution of 100-150 kegs a month to businesses and other customers and their distributor, Kombucha on Tap, a business down the street from them, who purchases 250-350 kegs a month which they in turn sell and supply to businesses and customers. Some of the businesses that have installed The Steeping Giant kegerators include the Film Hub, Swami’s in Vista and Carlsbad, Mission Avenue Bar and Grill, Sea Bird Hotel, Milk Organics, Flora Verde Dispensary, Bread & Cheese at Moonlight Amphitheatre, Calvary Vista, Awaken San Marcos, Kombucha Cares, and several Farmers Market locations. Joe also said Legoland Carlsbad is one of their major accounts.
When you speak with The Steeping Giant owner and CEO Joe Henschel you can feel the pride, he has in the company he helped start and the product he now produces. They have struggled, as many have during the pandemic, but their belief that they can make it through any adverse condition is leading to their success. Joe and his employees believe in the unparalleled flavor, quality, and service they offer which is leading to another successful business in Vista. They are Chamber of Commerce members and for more information or how to obtain their cold brew coffee, go to www.thesteepinggiant.com.