Austin is a coffee town. Local coffee shops are filled daily with armies of freelancers, students, and ambiguous hipsters illuminated by the gentle glow of Apple logos, working diligently checking their Facebook status. Lattes, iced cappuccinos, toddies and chilled mochas have become the life blood of a generation and one company has now made it possible for you to get this sweet ambrosia in your own home. Chameleon Cold Brew is a concentrated cold pressed toddy that you can blend to your taste. It's available in local stores. I personally like my coffee black and stupidly drank half a bottle of Chameleon Cold Brew, thinking it was just iced coffee. Be warned! This is powerful stuff and even for the heartiest coffee connoisseur, dilution is a necessity.
Chameleon Cold Brew co-conspirators, Steve Williams (owner of Bennu) and Chris Campbell met two years ago at a July 4th block party. Chris had been working in the corporate world and was ready to take on a more creative entrepreneurial project. Steve had successfully been running coffee shops for over a decade and was ready to make a push to bring his love of coffee to a broader base. Their wonder twin powers activated and they were able to start production on Chameleon Cold Brew last year.
Their intention was “to create a super flexible product that could work for anyone’s taste,” Chris explains, “has been a real learning experience.” Finding the final product was a series of trials and errors. At one point their intention was to have a latte style drink, but soon realized that getting involved in dairy manufacturing was more of a nightmare than was worth it. Eventually simplicity won over and the Cold Brew won. Designed by local artist Craig Steckbeck and marketed with a distinctively Austin feel, the Chameleon has been blending into stores locally since January of this year.
Chameleon is a completely cold pressed brew and a closely guarded secret; they wouldn’t even let me see where it was made. Made from a blend of fair trade coffees roasted right here in Austin by Texas Coffee Traders, the team works diligently to balance the flavors and acidity as seasons change to create a smooth highly drinkable brew. “Cold press actually takes a lot of the bitterness out of coffee,” Steve expounds, “Chameleon is a true multi-processed cold brew and you can taste it.”
Chameleon is a small company still but has already started expanding to markets outside of Austin. You can find them in Wheatsville, Bennu and Royal Blue in Austin and at Whole Foods in Houston, New Orleans and Baton Rouge. In true entrepreneurial style Chris “wanted to do well here, start small, and then grow, but we are kind of doing it backwards now.”
Such is the nature of any small business, you never know exactly how it is all going to work out in the end. As for now, it is a great locally made product with an eye on sustainability, a focus on quality and a flexible product that any caffeine junky can enjoy.