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Cool Beans

During the summer, the thought of sipping a hot cup of coffee is too much to bear for some. So if you’re looking for something cooler, try the ice drip cold brew at 918 Coffee.

Lindsay Morris
Sarah Eliza Roberts
May 28, 2018

Coffee may not be the first drink you reach for on a sweltering summer day in Tulsa — unless you’re reaching for a cold brew coffee. And if that’s the case, 918 Coffee has just the beverage for you.

When it comes to cold brews, most coffee shops use what’s known as a Toddy brew —  a 12-24 hour immersion process that produces a concentrated, dark and robust iced coffee. The Toddy process has been around since the 1950s and is, well, typical.

A couple of years ago, 918 Coffee decided to try something a little different. Owners Morad and Annie El-Raheb purchased a tower in order to produce an ice drip cold brew.

The Japanese cold brew (or tower) method is a popular way of brewing iced coffee in Asia. Ice water drips very slowly for 12 hours into a very concentrated amount of coffee. 918 Coffee’s particular brew requires four times the amount of coffee than a normal brew in order for the flavor to be concentrated. They use a blonde, organic Yirgacheffe bean, so that the notes are more pronounced.

The brew is then transferred to a refrigerator, where it stays for four days in order for the flavors to fully “bloom,” Annie says.

The result is a very complex, highly caffeinated brew with delicious notes of floral, sweet molasses and lemon citrus.

“People come from all over for it,” Annie says. “The tower method is part of 918 Coffee’s continual drive to be innovative. Just because you always did something one way doesn’t mean you should. We’re always pushing the envelope.”

They also have a super-charged cold brew — it’s a hot double shot shaken in a martini glass with a cold brew coffee. “It’s very caffeinated and popular among hospital workers,” Annie says.

The Japanese cold brew (or tower) method is a popular way of brewing iced coffee in Asia. (Photo: Sarah Eliza Roberts)
The Japanese cold brew (or tower) method is a popular way of brewing iced coffee in Asia. (Photo: Sarah Eliza Roberts)

918 Coffee really is all about the 918. For Morad and Annie, 918 Coffee started out as a love of great coffee and a desire to have an outstanding coffee house on historic Route 66.

918 Coffee is housed in what used to be the George Tune auto shop. The original toolboxes from the 1940s were restored by Morad and now serve as the condiment bar and storage. The building is a 1928 cottage-style gas station. The El-Rahebs wanted to honor the building’s past and Tulsa’s renowned collection of Art Deco by implementing a Tulsa’s Treasures theme, carried out by a number of photos of Tulsa Art Deco buildings covering the walls.

One of the goals of 918 Coffee is to be welcoming and inclusive. “You belong here if you’re in the 918,” Annie says.

Customers sense a welcoming atmosphere when entering 918 Coffee, because each day, people from all backgrounds frequent the shop.

“We have a different crowd every hour,” Annie says. First, it’s the hospital workers, then teachers, then business people, then seniors. In the evenings, the coffee shop is frequented by TU students.

You won’t feel like you’re out of place when you visit 918 Coffee.

“When I ordered coffee some places, I felt dismissed — like maybe I wasn’t the right demographic,” Annie says. “We want to make people feel welcomed.”

918 Coffee will celebrate its fifth anniversary in July, and they’ve really caught their stride by now. They serve several varieties of award-winning Coda coffees — a Denver-based roasting company that produces a flavorful espresso without any bitterness. All coffees are available hot or cold.

They offer many organic and fair trade coffee options, organic teas, fresh fruit smoothies, custom frappes and artisanal sandwiches with gluten-free and vegan options available.

“We have a big group of vegans coming,” Annie says. “It can be difficult for vegans to eat in Tulsa.” Other vegan offerings include vegan “chicken” and waffles and a vegan ice cream bar.

In 2016, 918 Coffee branched out and started serving beer, wine and mimosas. So it’s a great stop for happy hour, even if you don’t want any coffee. During the summer, they will serve mimosa popsicles.

918 Coffee’s 2018 resolution is to be greener. This includes recycling all paper and plastics, composting to-go boxes and spent coffee grounds, giving 0.25 cents off to customers who bring in travel mugs for their coffee, using sugar and creamer dispensers that measure out the right amount, using stainless steel straws for in-house purchases, and offering stainless steel straws you can purchase.

918 Coffee is a friendly, comfortable, upscale coffee house experience in a unique setting. You can come to work, play or study. They also have a number of board games, magazines and newspapers available for customers. Additionally, they play vinyl records every evening at 8 p.m.  

918 Coffee
2446 E. 11th St. | Tulsa