A punk rock musician turned coffee entrepreneur. While it might not be a typical career progression, for Christopher Vetter of Huntington, life on the road provided what he considers the best preparation for launching his own business, Sail Away Coffee. And now, less than a year since opening, the brand sells its cold brew coffee at grocery stores, farmers markets and bars all over Nassau and Suffolk counties.
For a while, Vetter thought of brewing his own beer but after spending time in Central America and seeing what coffee could taste like the 30-year-old was inspired. A longtime lover of iced coffee, he felt a need for quality cold brew coffee on a large scale after tasting national brands in grocery stores and finding them “overly astringent” or, on the other end of the spectrum, lacking in flavor.
He started out selling his “smooth, mellow” brew at farmers markets all over Long Island, from Seaford to Patchogue to Port Jefferson. In addition to selling direct, he garnered a lot of brand recognition.
“There is so much cultivation that goes on at these farmers market,” says Vetter. The young entrepreneur says these one-on-one relationships helped his coffee fly off the shelves when it debuted in grocery stores this October.
At first, bottling was a challenge; Vetter wanted to avoid preservatives and additives that could change the flavor. Another hurdle was launching iced coffee during fall and winter. He admits, “It is not the season for it.”
Tap coffee is pressurized with nitrogen, giving the beverage a “rich, creamy head” that “cascades just like a Guinness.”
However, the low demand allowed him to learn the supply chain, and he now feels ready for the summer. Now the coffee is available in bottles at North Shore Farms markets, small grocery stores and gourmet eateries now, Vetter plans to build partnerships with retailers.
Sail Away Coffee is also available on tap at bars and delis around Long Island, including E.A.T. Gastropub in Long Beach; Vauxhall in Huntington and Press 195 in Rockville Centre. Tap coffee is pressurized with nitrogen, giving the beverage a “rich, creamy head” that “cascades just like a Guinness.” Vetter plans to expand his nitro coffee operations further east, hopefully one day offering his java from Montauk to New York City.