White Elephant (WE) is small roaster and café in San Antonio’s Southtown at 1415 South Presa. Opened one year ago, WE was celebrating its anniversary over the July 4th weekend. Over the course of their first year, WE has solidified its position in the city’s coffee scene.
WE roasts on a Probat – long the standard-bearer for craft roasters. In addition to special blends and single origin roast, WE can be found around SA as private label coffee for places like 5 Points Local, and Press Coffee.
A Slayer espresso machine graces the coffee bar and a variety of coffees are available daily for slow pours.
The shop has a somewhat DIY vibe to it. Large spools double as tables, and a small bar abuts the the roasting area provides customers some insight into the roasting process.
Sitting on a shelf behind the cash register are two large stands that hold maybe the most exciting piece of equipment in the shop – a cold drip coffee maker. Considering summers in San Antonio are damn near unbearable, cold brew or iced coffee are clutch substitutes when you are craving caffeine but cannot possibly imagine imbibing a beverage brewed at 200 degrees in 100-degree weather. Enter cold brew. Or iced coffee. They are not the same thing. Let me explain:
Iced coffee is simply that. At it worst it is brewed hot and thrown on ice. At best, it is brewed hot onto bed of awaiting ice cubes. Some swear by this method. Some try to exoticize it and call it “Japanese style iced coffee.” They are full of crap. It is lazy. And quick. And sometimes it is all you can do and it just fine but if you want something worth your while, have a cold brew.
Cold Brew Coffee
Cold brew coffee is typically made when coffee grinds are submerged in room temperature (yeah, not exactly cold) water for a prolonged period of time. The exact coffee grind to water ratio varies purveyor to purveyor, but the general method is the same. What is left is a thick coffee concentrate that may be diluted with water (usually a 1:1 ratio) or served “neat” (straight concentrate). An added benefit of cold brew – the process removes much of the acidity naturally present in coffee creating a nice, smooth drink. Also – and this may or may not be verified by science and may well likely be a lie told to me in some café – cold brew has a higher caffeine content than a typical cup of coffee.
There are numerous home brew kits for making cold brew on your own. Toddy may be the most popular. A company out of Austin selling woven bags inside mason jars has found its way into Whole Foods, and my heart. Nothing special there, but a simple and effective way to make cold brew
White Elephant does something slightly differently. Their cold drip coffee maker looks something like an hour glass. Water is held in the top chamber and escapes slowly downward, drip by drip, into a chamber housing the coffee grounds. Gravity slowly pulls this liquid into a third chamber that collects the cold brew. This process can take upwards of 24 hours and produces a quality cup of coffee. Visit and find out for yourself.