The first day Steve Johnson walked into the Stock & Barrel offices, we knew he’d soon land on these pages.
Not just because he brought a six-pack of free stuff—but because how do you not wanna know more about a 63-year-old cattle farmer who invented a proprietary cold-brew coffee to fuel his mountain biking pursuits and fight off diabetes?
Meet, Steve, the owner of Off The Beaten Path, who like the name, tends to walk his own way through the local culinary scene. He’s invented his own tap system to furnish local businesses, and his nitrogen-infused (think Guinness) coffee, in flavors like Bourbon Pecan and Snickerdoodle, is low-to-no calories. He’s also full of hot takes on why cold-brew is the only true way (you don’t like over-boiling your veggies until they’re mush, right?), proselytizing a product that is less bitter than hot coffee, has more antioxidants, and promises faster muscle recovery—which is likely part of what landed OTBP on shelves at Paradise Garage, where a clear crossover exists between coffee and cycling culture. It’s a more efficient fuel than the regular stuff, too, with 20 percent more caffeine than regular coffee.
Steve’s always rolling, but we were able to take a moment out of his day on the farm to warm up on cold-brewed coffee.
What’s the difference between iced coffee and cold brew?
Iced coffee is merely ice cubes in hot brewed coffee. Any time you hot brew coffee, it makes it more acidic, lowers the caffeine and kills the flavor. Cold brewing coffee is basically brewing coffee in the absence of heat. My cold brew goes through a patented chilled overnight process, uniquely different from the norm.
We’d be remiss to leave out your age, and how that typically doesn’t match up with mountain biking and cold brew. What do the people your age think of an old cattle farmer making this stuff?
The short answer? They think I’m nuts. I still love my roots and still love my cattle, but I was looking for a new direction and for a way to increase my level of fitness. As I assimilated into the mountain biking culture, it was there that I got the idea to cold brew coffee.
How can you tell a good cup of coffee or tea from a bad one? In other words, what are the big red flags to take note of when taking your first sip?
A good cup of coffee or tea will have a pleasant aroma, a smooth taste, and a positive flavor profile. Anything else—look out. In a bad cup of coffee, you can smell of bitterness even before you taste it.
What was the trial and error like before got your process down?
Up until three years ago, I always avoided coffee because of the bitterness. Then I found out that the quality of the bean, the way it is roasted, and how it’s brewed all made such a difference. So first I had to find the bean, and was fortunate enough to find Stauf’s Coffee Roasters. From there, I experimented with steeping and soaking and was able to develop an even higher quality product through my proprietary brewing system.
Besides cold-brewed (obviously), how do you prefer your morning cup of joe?
Here is the perfect cup of coffee; it’s cold brewed, filled with nitrogen and then it is served at 180° F! In order to get this, I developed the Hot Tap, which is temperature limited and allows the nitrogen infusion to stay constant.
How has your diabetes played a role in this?
I started mountain biking 4 years ago to control my diabetic situation. The exercise allowed me to avoid medication. I average riding 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year. I also found that coffee consumption helps me control my blood sugar levels.
We know you have a patent on your process. Do you have any other inventions to your name? We know you farmers have to get creative out there….
I have modified hay and tillage equipment to fit the specific needs that I have had on the farm. I have also developed improved ways of recycling wood waste and asphalt shingle material as well. All that practice allowed me to design and invent the Hot Tap and related brewing equipment.
Coffee is somewhat an acquired taste for people, do you think cold brew coffee makes it a little easier for people to enjoy coffee?
Yes, cold brewed coffee tastes much better than hot brewed, but the nitrogen infusion creates such a great flavorful creamy profile, most people don’t even need to add any cream or sugar to my coffee or teas.
Can you give us an elevator pitch as to why people should switch from energy drinks to cold brew coffee or tea?
Feel like you need an energy drink? Skip the additives and sugar and Try Off the Beaten Path cold brewed coffee and teas! Coffee and water, tea and water, zero additives and 10 calories or less.
Off the Beaten Path On Tap
The Angry Baker (3 locations)
The Guild House
Lemongrass Fusion Bistro
The Hills Market (Downtown)