Waukesha native and Philoçoffia owner Johnny Farrell
poses with bottles of his Paleo and Cognac barrel-aged
cold brew coffee at an OutPost Natural Foods location on
WAUKESHA – Waukesha native Johnny Ferrell was about to
start a new venture – a coconut-based non-dairy creamer
– when he decided to see what kind of preservation
effect coconut oil might have on coffee beans.
made a bit of a mess in his kitchen, but right away he
knew he had landed on something incredible.
smell was just amazing,” he recalled Friday. “It had
this underlying savory flavor, but with reduced
Flash forward a year and half later to today, and
Ferrell is busily building a growing retail coffee
business focused on a “paleo” cold brew coffee that uses
a flavorless coconut oil to preserve the richness and
freshness of the brew, and a growing line of cold brew
coffees infused with the flavors of whiskey, cognac and
Bottles of the cold brews are sold online on the
company’s website, philocoffia.com, and at OutPost
Natural Foods locations, Good Harvest Market in Pewaukee
and Beans & Barley in Milwaukee. He also sells beans of
the barrel-aged coffees on the website.
Preservation and flavor
Dubbed Philoçoffia in a nod to both a love of coffee and
knowledge, Ferrel’s business owes its initial start to
knowledge the businessman gained during his years
working in the coconut water business.
After serving in the Navy, the Marquette University High
School graduate, started working for coconut water
company Vico. When the company was sold to Coca Cola, he
started his own coconut products company called Ecos.
was while working on that non-diary creamer idea for
Ecos that Ferrel decided to focus entirely on coffee,
starting first with his sugar-free cold brew called
Working with Waukesha-based Cafe De Arts Roasters he
selected a collection of beans that would deliver a
richer, less bitter coffee.
Paleo cold brew coffee sold in stores and on his website
uses those beans, which are later coated with an an
expeller-pressed coconut oil.
While his Paleo cold brew continues to draw fans, Ferrel
is equally encouraged by the growing popularity of his
barrel-aged liquor infused coffees.
“People are kind of blown away by them,” he said. “It’s
alcohol-free but it’s real liquor flavor.”
Ferrel stumbled on the venture after visiting Eagle Park
Brewing Company in Milwaukee and tasting one of their
beers made in part from bourbon barrel-aged coffee
started doing research and found that while there were a
few companies out there selling liquor barrel-aged
coffees, most were only doing Whiskey barrel-aged
coffees. “I thought 'what if you did one with cognac'”
make his barrel-aged coffees, Ferrel ages green,
un-roasted beans in former liquor barrels, and then uses
various infusing methods to boost the liquor flavors in
each. When the beans are done they get roasted at Cafe
De Arts. The bottled coffee that is made from those
beans then gets brewed and bottled at a commercial
kitchen in Bayview that he shares with Top Note Tonic, a
Milwaukee- based tonic and ginger beer producer.
coffee that comes out ends up tasting a lot like Irish
coffee, Ferrel said, especially the whiskey-infused
tequila cold brew coffee has a unique flavor as well,
like the agave plant itself, but not sweet, he said.
cognac-infused brew has a spicy, warm flavor that is
welcoming to newcomers, said Ferrel, especially those
not looking for a strong liquor flavor.
those who want a really strong liquor flavor, the
entrepreneur encourages customers to keep their eye out
for his new “shot” versions.
have been selling the two-ounce, espresso-strength shots
in the Paleo line for a month now, but I think with the
barrel-aged (coffee) is going to be really cool. It’s
not just an espresso shot, it’s also like your are
taking a shot of tequila or whiskey.”