By Sophia Ricco
Why exactly would you want nitrogen in your coffee? Sail Away Coffee Co. thinks one taste of its cold brew will answer that question.
The coffee company has yet to establish a storefront of its own, but distributes at restaurants and stores, sells cans of their nitro cold brew, and sets up shop at festivals across Long Island. Founder and owner, Christopher Vetter, 33, of Melville believes the best way to build his brand is to have a far reach to various audiences.
“Our grassroots marketing approach is why we are constantly doing events,” Vetter said. “Any chance we can get to introduce ourselves to the Long Island public, we want to do so.”
Sail Away Coffee Co. was established in the summer of 2015 and began as a cold brew seller at festivals and farmers markets. During that winter Vetter began experimenting with infusing nitrogen into his cold brew after seeing it done at shops in New York City. Once it was brewed to his satisfaction, the nitro cold brew debuted on tap at Vauxhall in Huntington village, and has since made its way into bars, restaurants, cafes, and food stores across the Island.
“My business sense came from essentially managing my own band and my experience in hospitality came from being a catering manager,” Vetter said. “So those two things combined with me wanting to start my own brand and channeling that into this, something that I love, made for a good recipe.”
The business’ brand attracts the eye with a nautical theme at the forefront. From the name to the waves below it and their signature swallow flying above.
“Swallow is an iconic symbol of good luck for sailors… So it’s tied into the brand because I wanted something that was Long Island-centric. ” Vetter said.
Most of Sail Away’s sales are on Long Island, but Vetter is expanding that reach with a canned version of the nitro cold brew.
“It was the perfect thing to roll out because it gives people the opportunity to take home or on the road, what they love getting at bars and restaurants,” Vetter said of the canned brew he introduced last March.
It’s available in three flavors: sweetened, unsweetened and sea salt and caramel.
“It’s been an adventure… Just like any business, there’s ups and downs. But the ups far outweigh the downs. Just always gotta be navigating the ship properly,” Vetter said.
Sail Away brews its coffee at its own brewery in Deer Park. The nitrogen infusion brings out the coffee’s smooth and chocolatey notes by giving it a creamy and silky texture without the addition of any dairy.
“Nitrogen is a different kind of gas than CO2. CO2 dissolves into liquids and gives it a different flavor,” Vetter said. “Nitrogen doesn’t dissolve, it mixes with the liquid and gives it the frothy quality.”
When Sail Away pours at festivals and events, Vetter said customers ask questions about the cold brew. Many ask if it is beer or has dairy in it? Vetter welcomes the chance to explain the process and what Sail Away is all about.
“The goal is to keep working hard in our own backyard of Long Island and the five boroughs,” Vetter said. “Really keep building our audience and community and keep it going from there, wherever it takes us.”
Vetter said he is “in this for the long run” and has big plans for his company’s expansion. He wants to keep building the company’s base on Long Island and New York City, but hopes to one day be a nationally known brand.
Sail Away Coffee Co. cans and cups on tap typically sell for $4-6. Local taps can be found at Hatch, Vauxhall, Mission Nutrition, Nitro Space, The Shed, and SoBol.