Sign up for our free newsletter
Tyler Philips is on a mission to stop you from drinking iced or cold brew coffee.
“Ice coffee has two big things wrong with it: It’s stale and quite watery,” he says. “Nitrogen coffee, on the other hand, drastically extends the shelf life of the brew—about two months—and maintains a consistent flavor each pour.”
Philips is the owner and operator of Alchemist Coffee Co., a nitro coffee brewer and distributor, which recently took up residence inside Tastemakers, a food incubator space in Brookland (2800 10th St. NE).
Next month, Philips will open his production facility to the public with a retail coffee shop serving high-quality nitro coffee from several rare roasters, as well as local favorite Ceremony Coffee Roasters from Annapolis.
Right now, Philips coffee distribution service is in high demand—he supplies dozens of restaurants and bars with nitro coffee, including The Coffee Bar, A Baked Joint, Little Red Fox, The Local Market in Falls Church, Bullfrog Bagels, Highline RxR in Crystal City, Meridian Pint, Mia’s Coffeehouse, The Majestic in Alexandria, and Barrel.
For the last few months, Philips has operated his business out of a tiny warehouse in Alexandria. Before that, he was selling nitro coffee from the back of his van at local farmer’s markets.
He’s grown his customer base quickly because most bars and restaurants stop short of brewing consistently good coffee. Philips also supplies premium roasters that you typically won’t find anywhere else in D.C., like Tim Wendelboe (Oslo, Norway) and Heart Coffee (Portland, Oregon).
“Tim Wendelboe’s coffee tastes very different from what people normally think of as coffee,” Philips says. “It’s fruity, juicy, smooth, and refreshing. There are no added roasted or cooked flavors. The style is very focused on featuring the flavors of the coffee fruit as much as possible.”
A lot of that flavor comes from a technique called “flash brewing.” It involves brewing coffee to a hot temperature, then flash chilling it to extract maximum flavor.
Most nitro coffee on the market today uses a “cold brewing” technique, but Philips says the cold water does not properly extract enough flavor. In this case, your coffee can be heavily acidic or astringent, making you feel as if you’re eating coffee grinds instead of sipping on some of the coffee’s more subtle flavors.
If you really want to get into the nitty-gritty details of the grind, talk to Philips long enough, and he’ll tell you about how he uses a refractometer to measure whether a bean has fully dissolved during the brewing process.
It’s a level of expertise that most restaurants and bars are happy to outsource to a specialized coffee brewer, like Philips.
“For bars and restaurants, it means they can serve the freshest coffee on tap,” he says. “I try to buy coffee from the best roasters, brew it to the best quality, and preserve it to maintain maximum freshness.”