Chatting to Scott Giles – owner, promoter and sometimes delivery driver for Mischief Brew Coffee – you feel he’s thriving in his hand-carved niche. Giles’s cold-brewed coffee is made to a precise recipe and takes 22 hours. That same sense of care and mindfulness is infused throughout his entire business philosophy.
“Mischief Brew for me is a combination of addictions,” says Giles. “Coffee, relationships, unique processing, ingenuity, personal discovery, growth and learning – via mistake making and stubborn persistence.” And it’s working for him.
Giles grew Mischief Brew from a makeshift home rig to a small setup in Netley and now to a 565-square-metre warehouse in Underdale. He shares the space with another boutique producer, Juice Quest, under the co-brand Squatters Run. Coffee roaster BLK MRKT and producers Nice Pickles and Symba are also preparing to move in, once council signs the paperwork.
A good deal of cash, TLC and new concrete was poured into the site in order to make it a workable location, but much of the existing infrastructure was able to be reused or repurposed. The long-term plan, once production is ticking over, is to create a tasting room in the building’s entrance for all three brands to spruik their wares, host events and engage with customers.
It’s part of a wider growth strategy for Mischief Brew. Giles is upscaling production and looking at interstate distribution. “This is a big step forward for us," he says. "We'll look to roll out nationally before the summer months are upon us again,” he says.
We’re seeing a wave of cold, black coffees hitting the market, as customers look for alternatives to dairy heavy drinks. Plus, it’s proper delicious. Giles recently switched from using crown seals to screw tops on his glass bottles, which he hopes will give the product an edge in the grab-n-go market. Retailing for $7 a bottle, Mischief Brew is a luxury brand – by iced-coffee standards – but constant growth has Giles feeling confident.
“Contractual coffee brewing for clients and coffee [solution] for bars has kept us busy in between Mischief Brew batches,” he says. The start of every year is busy with “eventing and festival supply when it gets crazy here in Adelaide.”
Mischief Brew is made using indirect immersion, which means instead of just dumping coffee into big tubs of water, the grounds are suspended, yielding a more well-rounded extraction. Giles designed and fabricated much of his gear to achieve just the result and flavour profile he was after. “There were a couple of things in the beer brewing range that I could adapt, but they couldn’t take the [coffee] weight,” he says.
Giles uses a signature roast from De Groot Coffee Co and spring water from the Adelaide Hills. “Trevor [De Groot] and I have always had a great relationship,” he says. “We’ve had multiple conversations about where my business is at and [how to manage] volume.
“I’ve always believed that you learn things when you need to learn them,” Giles says. He’s happy to lean on others – like Basket Range winemaker Brendan Keys – for advice. “BK is a rad friend and another mentor of mine,” he says.
Having outgrown two previous locations, the business is now at risk of outgrowing Giles. His regular offsider Strings (a loyal Heeler x Staffy) sadly isn’t permitted on the new site, so he’s had to look elsewhere for help. “I’ve got a couple of people casually jumping on board for now and hopefully soon we can formalise that,” he says. Bringing in extra hands on brew days frees up Giles to concentrate on other jobs, like pushing “The Hot” (Mischief Brew’s coffee cart for hire), and driving the delivery van – something he’s missed in recent times. “I’m making calls, I’ve got tunes cranking, I’m out seeing people. It’s all business you know?”
Mischief Brew can be found at Goodies and Grains, Bambi’s Kitchen, E for Ethel, Schinella's Market Prospect, Sturt Street Cellars, Little Green Grocer and most Chapley’s Group Foodlands.