A fascinating concept that’s really starting to take off.
Keen to get more out of your coffee experience? Meet Stone in Focus, Australia’s first creators of hop-infused cold brew coffee. We chat to the creator of Stone in Focus, Jack Swann, about his groundbreaking new venture which bears a name inspired by Swann’s love of Aphex Twin, no less.
Tell us about Stone in Focus – what’s so special about this new coffee that you’re brewing?
Stone in Focus is a small solo start-up based out of Melbourne, which has blossomed over these recent months of isolation. We specialise in producing hop-infused cold brew coffee, which is the first of its kind in Australia, and is made by steeping coffee and Australian grown hop flowers together over about a 24-hour period at room temperature. Cold brewing produces a much smoother and sweeter cup of coffee because the cooler water doesn’t draw out as much acid or bitterness compared to hot water, which means most people will enjoy it without adding milk or sugar.
Can you tell us a little bit about where you’re sourcing your beans and hops from? What makes these sources unique?
Importing and roasting coffee is a little bit over my head, but I’m lucky enough to be working with a couple of local coffee roasting gurus here in Melbourne. They source their coffee beans from all over the world and make sure great relationships are built with their suppliers – pretty much all of the speciality coffee we’re seeing is fair-trade and organic, which is really awesome.
We tend to use single-origin beans as well. This lets us constantly play around with new recipes and supply new coffees that highlight the unique characteristics of different coffee regions. As for the hops, they’re grown in either Victoria or Tasmania. The hop industry here is incredible and there are a number of hop strains we grow that you can’t get anywhere else in the world.
On paper, hops and coffee sounds like an odd combination. What’s the difference between a cup of your coffee and a regular cold brew? Can you describe how both flavours interact?
Well the biggest thing has got to be its unique flavour. From the coffees we choose and from cold brewing the coffee in general, you get a lot of the sweet and rich syrup, or toffee and dark chocolate flavours. They’re very deep textures, but tend to sit on the front of your tongue. Whereas the hops add a slight bitterness, but are a lot lighter as you get the really juicy, citrus fruits and floral aromatics – which really fill up the rest of your mouth.
Hops are also known to have a soothing effect when consumed. Why would I want to combine that with the typical rush I get from drinking coffee?
This is what actually got me interested in the project in the first place. It’s something that I can only answer in regards to my personal experience though, because the science behind it is still relatively unknown, and it’s something that’s going to affect everyone differently. You already see this within the coffee industry itself: everyone has their limit of daily coffee intake or avoids it all together because they don’t like that coffee rush for whatever reason.
Hops have notoriously been used in a number of medicines. They were used in beer initially as an antimicrobial preservative, and more recently, they’ve proved to have anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
But, traditionally, they tend to aid various types of stress, ranging from muscle tension and digestive problems through to insomnia and in some cases, anxiety. As I said, this is a subtle effect – take beer for example – and with a coffee I think we’ve experienced the best of both worlds.
Where can our readers find out more about Stone in Focus or purchase a sample?
We’re going to be supplying cafes and businesses around Melbourne so hopefully you’ll be able to find us at your local. Reach out to us if you or someone you know might be interested in that. Otherwise, keep up to date with everything on our social media and our website for now, and we’ll be launching our retail side of things sometime in the spring.
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