EDGEWATER — An Edgewater resident spent years designing artistic coffee drinks in Chicago cafes — and now he’s launched his own brand of cold brew and is delivering homemade drinks to customers.
“I keep telling people to think of me as the neighborhood milkman, but for coffee,” Reinhardt said.
Cold brew fans can place a coffee order online during the week. Reinhardt brews the drinks over the weekend and delivers orders — canned coffee in four- and six-packs — Monday and Tuesday mornings.
Kinetic is a one-man operation for now, so Reinhardt delivers between Rogers Park to Downtown. He also plans to sell cold brews at Edge of Sweetness’ upcoming weekly markets.
Instead of brewing the canned drinks the traditional way, Reinhardt uses a sous vide immersion circulator to seal flavorful ingredients with the coffee as it brews inside a vacuum-sealed bag submerged in heated water.
Since the extra ingredients are infused with the coffee as it’s made, rather than included later with flavored syrup, there’s no added sugar in the finished drinks. This was important to Reinhardt because he’s noticed many of his customers tend to ask for sugar-free drinks, he said.
To make Reinhardt’s specialty, The Angry Bee, he seals the coffee inside a bag with cinnamon, honey, cayenne and lemon zest and allows the flavors to combine with the coffee as it brews for a few hours.
“When you drink the coffee, you can taste the lemons, taste the cinnamon, the honey, the cayenne — but you don’t taste the sugariness of syrup,” Reinhardt said. “It’s delicious, and you can still add sugar to it if you want to.”
The other two flavors available are a plain black coffee called Café Noir and a chocolate brew, Mocha Motion.
Reinhardt has worked as a barista since he moved to Chicago seven years ago after completing a degree in acting. He said he started “using coffee as a way to express [his] creativity when [he] wasn’t on stage performing.”
“I want to make creative coffee for people,” Reinhardt said. “Something that pushes people’s boundaries, gets them a little bit out of their box. I’ve made drinks with corn, with cream cheese. I like using ingredients people would look at and go, ‘That doesn’t belong in coffee,’ and figuring out a way to put it into coffee and make it work.”
About three years ago, Reinhardt helped open Rewired Pizza Cafe and Bar, 1100 W. Thorndale Ave., where he would frequently make drinks on the fly based on what customers said they had a taste for.
“My favorite part of the day was when people would come in and didn’t know what they wanted,” Reinhardt said. “I’d be like, ‘Well, give me a flavor, give me a vibe. Sweet or spicy? What are you looking for?’ And I’d just come up with something off the top of my head.
“I feel like people are used to their routines when it comes to coffee, but I want people to have a memory and be like, ‘Oh man, I can’t stop thinking about that drink.’”
While turning people’s dream drinks into reality at Rewired in 2020, Reinhardt decided he wanted to start his own coffee business.
Around the same time, Reinhardt was learning to cook meat in a sous vide style at home and read online about Band of Bohemia, a high-end restaurant that had used sous vide methods to make coffee.
Reinhardt was intrigued by this new medium of coffee art. He spent the past two years experimenting with the sous vide process to perfect his cold brew.
“I’ve been making coffee for so long with syrups that I know I can turn pretty much anything into syrup and add it to a latte and it’ll either be really good or just OK,” Reinhardt said. “But this style means I get to figure out new ways of adding ingredients and experiment with how to get the natural sweetness out of them.”
Even though Reinhardt’s gotten the hang of making consistent cold brew in this way, he’s still developing flavors he plans to release soon, including a banana-bread-inspired drink and a seasonal pumpkin spice chai for autumn.
Reinhardt has “big aspirations” and plans to expand his delivery range in the city, collaborate with different roasteries, sell the drinks at local cafes and ship cans nationwide.
Someday, Reinhardt hopes to drive a Kinetic Coffee truck around Chicago — and his ultimate goal is to open a critically acclaimed, fine-dining coffee cafe, Reinhardt said.
“I very much like the process of creating unique coffees, and I think this style of coffee is something that’s unique, that other people aren’t really doing,” Reinhardt said. “As Kinetic Coffee starts to get off the ground, I’m excited to work with other coffee shops and roasters throughout the city to keep that small business, local Chicago experience alive.”
Listen to “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast”: