Industry News | August 31, 2017 | By Alex Dixon | QSR Exclusive Brief

The Founder of Umami Burger is Starting a Coffee Revolution

Cold Cocked
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From burgers to pizza to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Adam Fleischman has found ways to elevate ubiquitous foods to new territories. And with a new venture opening this fall, his next target is coffee.

Fleischman plans to open Cold Cocked Coffee within a food hall in Los Angeles’ Koreatown neighborhood on November 1, bringing the beverage to what he calls "the fourth wave."

Building off coffee's third wave—in which brands and consumers placed priority on coffee origin and production methodCold Cocked will expand to new flavor profiles and serving methods. “What I’ve found is a lot of [coffee concepts] follow the same format,” Fleischman says. “They all have the same drinks; the quality varies a little bit, but there’s at least 10 different ones on this third-wave side. So what I want to do is take it away from that espresso-bar model and into a more chef-driven place.”

Cold Cocked will focus on cold coffee, one of the most rapidly growing segments within the industry, through a method Fleischman developed about a decade ago. He creates a base that takes about three days to infuse; when the customer orders a beverage, it's shaken like a cocktail.

“Some people shake certain iced espresso drinks, but this is a completely different flavor profile,” Fleischman says. “We’re doing a Mexican mole flavor, a cardamom flavor, and a licorice flavor that’s really amazing with Danish licorice. But nothing very sweet. People tend to think of cold coffee as ultra-sweet; this is not that.” Cold Cocked will offer an experience similar to a cocktail bar; customers will walk up to a bar rather than order from a queue, and service will be a primary focus, Fleischman says.

Fleischman—who founded Umami Burger, backed 800 Degrees pizzeria, and developed a chocolate-and-fried chicken hybrid concept called ChocoChicken that has since closed—isn’t just sticking to coffee. He recently opened a peanut butter and jelly sandwich concept, called PBJ.LA, within Grand Central Market in Los Angeles.

“[PBJ.LA] was pitched to me by some guys at my gym and I was extremely skeptical,” he says. “And then they made it for me and had really elevated the flavor profile of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich into something much more gourmet.”

The offerings at PBJ.LA are more like pies than sandwiches; the bread is round and crimped around the edges. Offerings include non-traditional combinations like the Italian—with pine nut butter and cherry tomato jam, or more old school classics like peanut butter or almond butter with strawberry jam.

With all businesses Fleischman brings to fruition, he makes sure it will be differentiated through continued experimentation in his kitchen. “I work on the products at home, and if it ends up being unique and stands out, then I pursue it as a business. If it’s not, then I don’t,” he says. “I don’t have any experience in restaurants, but I definitely know what’s different, and that’s why I pursued Umami: because it was very differentiated and disruptive to the industry, and that’s what I’m looking to do.”