When childhood friends Michael Woitach and Terry Darcy signed up to volunteer at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, they had no idea they’d one day start their own tap-related venture. But Darcy, with a background studying neuroscience and biochemistry, teamed up with Woitach, a business-minded marketing manager, to create a new summer staple: barrel-aged cold brew coffee.
Co-founders Michael Woitach, left, and Terry Darcy kick off Confluence with three flavors. (Photo by Jay Paul)
Confluence coffee — available bottled, canned or on draft — exclusively uses beans from Blanchard’s Coffee Roasting Co., and is now producing all of Blanchard’s cold brew coffee.
“Even though I live in D.C. now, we really are a Richmond-based company,” says Woitach. “My going to [the University of Richmond] and our meeting the Blanchard’s guys is why we’re in existence.”
The duo experiments with aging coffee in barrels, as well as infusing it with oak spirals and chips to achieve different flavors; each variety is now infused with wood chips similar to what a home winemaker might use. From there, the coffee is bottled as a more traditional iced coffee, or canned and kegged using nitrogen gas to impart a consistency not unlike Guinness.
“It lends an aesthetically pleasing cascading effect and gives the coffee a slightly creamy mouthfeel, but doesn’t make the coffee bubbly or have that bitter carbonic acid taste associated with carbonated beverages,” says Darcy. “It actually helps some of the coffee’s sweet notes to shine through more. Some people don’t believe that we don’t add cream or sugar when they try it.”
Confluence’s nutty and smoky Original has hints of bourbon (talk about the right way to start your day), and the Lemon is inspired by the Roman custom of serving espresso with a lemon rind; the Mocha features slightly sweet chocolate flavors. Keep your eye out for new flavor releases as well, such as a mulled flavor, which launches this fall.
Confluence coffee can be found online via confluencecoffeeco.com, or at Ellwood Thompson’s Local Market.