In Chattanooga, locals know Velo Coffee Roasters for its small-batch beans and its carbon-conscious philosophy. Founder Andrew Gage and his team transport freshly roasted beans by bicycle, loading their fragrant cargo onto a trailer and pedaling to the city’s farmers’ markets and stores. Gage—who grew up in Michigan and Murfreesboro, Tennessee—opened his business two years ago and has settled on East Main Street, the downtown drag that boasts Link Forty One’s artisanal sausages and Alleia’s standout Italian food.
Velo fans also know the micro-roaster for its innovative caffeinated drinks, including a popular coffee soda. Gage uses a few quality ingredients: simple syrup, Vintage brand soda water, and a cold coffee concentrate. “Because you don’t heat it, it extracts different qualities out of the coffee,” Gage says. “It takes a lot of the acid out and makes a really heavy body, really sweet. The smell of it is kind of like coffee ice cream.”
The syrupy, rich concentrate is a perfect building block for creative concoctions. Iced drinks and desserts are obvious, but Gage says it works well in marinades and cocktails, too.