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Northeast Ohio is full of creative people following their dreams while trying to make a living. From jewelry crafted out of broken street glass to sound equipment engineered for rock stars, see what people are "making" in the community.

Making It: Crafting cold brew in Cleveland with Scoot!

Maker: Kari DeGraff, owner

Business: Scoot! Cold Brew, a Cleveland business specializing in cold brew coffee and creating a more sustainable community

How is cold brew different than making traditional hot coffee?

If you think of your traditional drip coffee or a shot of espresso, you have the grounds and then you tamp it and you run hot water through it. And the hot water is what gives it that lovely aromatic and beautiful smell. But it sort of shocks the beans, and that's what kind of gives you the bitterness. Whereas with cold brew, you steep it like tea. You grind the coffee, and then we add a little natural sweetener to ours, typically like a honey, just enough to balance it a little bit. You run cold water through it and then let it steep overnight, anywhere from 17-24 hours. And it's just this mellow process where it slowly extracts all the goodness, and it doesn't shock the coffee and it doesn't have that bitterness. After that, you pull the grounds and now you have this dark, rich concentrate, which is basically like the equivalent of espresso. A lot of people think it's just cold coffee but it’s not, it's just the way it was processed.

Just a touch of local honey or maple syrup is added to Scoot's cold brew, not making it sweet, but giving it an even body and flavor. [Jean-Marie Papoi / Ideastream Public Media]

Sustainability is a big part of your business model. What are some things you do at Scoot! to reduce waste?

The nice thing about our product is we sell it in bulk in glass bottles. You can snag a week's worth of coffee at our shop and then take it home and make a drink every day. After that you just bring your empty bottle back and get a refill and you’re set. There's virtually no waste in that, even with the brewing process. In fact, in our shop we only go through about one bag of trash a week, which is pretty crazy.

Scoot! sells its cold brew and cold brew concentrate in glass bottles and jars, which drastically cuts down on waste. [Kari DeGraff / Scoot!]

Scoot! has kept growing ever since you opened. What have you been doing in order to expand your business?

We're working right now to expand our wholesale. When we first opened, we had lofty visions of being everywhere. But it turns out, you know, when you're new, people also want to see what you're about and get to know you. And I think we went through that last year, and then this year a lot more places have opened up. It's pretty cool to get our foot in the door in different places around town and be seen. And I'm hoping that they're finding that not only do their customers like our product, but that it's a good fit because it's convenient, it's already ready to go.

Being on the menu in other local establishments creates a feeling of excitement for DeGraff. "My goal is to not just get our foot in the door, but also to create some ease in their workday," she said. [Kari DeGraff / Scoot!]

Looking back on how far you’ve come over the past couple of years, are you able to take a moment and feel a little proud of yourself, or are you constantly looking toward the future and what’s next? 

Definitely both. I mean, I for sure feel proud of myself, but I think it's easy to have disempowering beliefs. And I've been learning how to set those to the side and just be like, ‘This is where we're at right now and this is what's happening.’ And that's pretty spectacular. A lot of this is the fact that we have survived starting in the pandemic. You have to celebrate the wins, big or small, because it's just kind of crazy. But I definitely have a big vision for the future, and I'm excited for the possibilities and what's ahead of us.

When DeGraff came across this building in an industrial area off Berea Rd. in Cleveland, she immediately loved it. "It's an unknown gem," she said, "and I just see so much potential for that building and for creating a little community there." [Jean-Marie Papoi / Ideastream Public Media]


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