Let's start with the actual can itself, a turquoise-tan-orange vessel emblazoned with text and illustrations: "Ingredients: coffee, water, time"; an image of a simple coffee brewing process under "How we made it." The colors pop, the fonts are hip, and the vibe is instantly clear: pure coffee, made right here in the increasingly entrepreneurial-driven St. Petersburg.
This is the future of coffee, at least according to Michael Rideout, 34, founder along with Taylor Prater, 32, of Made Coffee. The company is churning out canned cold brew across the street from 3 Daughters Brewing on 22nd Street S. Rideout says they're the first Florida company to put a "flat" (as opposed to nitro) coffee brew in a can. And they have big aspirations to build on that, to be the coffee brand of Florida. ("It's the right weather for cold coffee all year round," Rideout says.)
Their production facility doubles as their office. They recently returned to it from their first vacation in a while, a symptom of, er, pouring their lives into their burgeoning coffee business for the past few years.
The work is paying off. A couple of months ago, Rideout gave a pitch to their largest retailer yet: Publix. Made Coffee is now sold at certain Tampa Bay Publix stores, nestled between creamers in the dairy section. Rideout and Prater stock the shelves themselves.
Just a few years ago, Made's sales were exclusively delivered via bicycle, its cold brew sold at local events from a keg hooked up to the back of the bike. Rideout and Prater developed the concept for years before moving into the small office/production facility in St. Petersburg that is now Made's home base.
Rideout and Prater both used to work at the cocktail bar Mandarin Hide. The idea for this business began to form there, the popularity of the bar's espresso martini piquing their interest in craft coffee.
"I loved coffee at that time as a consumer, but found that St. Pete was lacking a really cool coffee scene," Rideout says. "This was right on the cusp of things becoming cool down here."
He was looking to open a space, initially a coffee shop. This was before Bandit Coffee Company and other spots specializing in small-batch, locally roasted fare proliferated in St. Pete.
Somewhere along the way, the coffee shop idea faded and another came into focus: canned cold brew. Rideout and Prater had begun seeing other packaged cold brew products locally and around the country — high-quality stuff you could grab on the way to work, then stash in your fridge for later or open in the car. A coffee roaster they follow in Portland, Ore., Stumptown Coffee Roasters, started to break out into cans. No one in the Southeast had gone that route yet, so Rideout and Prater saw a need in Tampa Bay.
Why cans? Logistically, it's easier to work with than bottles, which are heavier and can shatter. They also deliver a longer shelf life (up to 120 days for Made's products).
"The smartest vessel to deliver this product for sure is the can," Rideout says. "Plus, I think specialty coffee is going in a convenience direction."
Made is now in more than 70 retail spaces, grocery stores and small shops and lots of fitness centers; it's the cold brew served at Tampa's trendy new food hall the Hall on Franklin.
"Anyone who likes craft beer usually likes us," Prater says.
The connection isn't an accident. There are a lot of similarities between the coffee- and beer-brewing processes. And Rideout and Prater have reached out to local breweries for moral and technical support. Made's equipment comes from the same company, Brewfab, that makes equipment for many breweries in the area. Rideout talks shop with brewers. ("Big, shiny equipment fascinates me," he says.) During Hurricane Irma, 3 Daughters offered to let Made store some inventory in its coolers.
And like some beers, Made's canned brews may be best for sipping: Each can contains between 350 and 400 milligrams of caffeine, a whopping amount compared to a regular cup of coffee, which sits at about 100 or less. It's sold as only plain coffee, no sugars or creamers added. (Prater says this is why it has been popular with the gym and fitness store crowd.)
Made sources beans from farms around the world; the exact location changes, meaning there can be slight taste differences across multiple batches. From there, they roast the beans in house on a 12-kilogram turquoise Diedrich Roaster, then grind them, add water and let it ride. The brew is filtered, then canned, and that's it.
Saturdays are for canning. Tuesdays are delivery days. And there's something to do almost every other day, as they try to build Made from the bean up.
Even the name of the company reflects the hands-on journey.
"The name Made was chosen because we wanted to embrace the process," Rideout says. "We wanted to show people where their food is coming from."
Contact Michelle Stark at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @mstark17.