Mad Oak Coffee Roasters Is Looking to Grow in Allston

A music producer-cum-bean roaster is building his brand with two cold brew draft lines at Lulu's.

Mad Oak Coffee Roasters is available on draft at Lulu's Allston

Mad Oak Coffee Roasters is available on draft at Lulu’s Allston. / Photo provided

Bands who record at Allston’s Mad Oak Studios have access to a benefit beyond the 15-year-old production house’s reliable music production talent, which has worked with everyone from Aerosmith, to the Dresden Dolls, and more local talent.

Now, musicians can also pull themselves a cup of an exclusive cold brew iced coffee by Mad Oak Coffee Roasters. The bean-roasting and cold-brewing company is the side gig of musician and Mad Oak Studios’ co-owner and founder, Craig Riggs.

With Mad Oak Studios fully settled into its new home on Cambridge Street (it moved from its original location on Rugg Road in 2015), Riggs can focus on growing his fledgling coffee company in 2017, he says. He is actively looking at real estate and plans to upgrade his roasting equipment to be able to process 15 times more beans this year. And in the meantime, he has his first, commercial draft account with neighbor Lulu’s Allston.

Mad Oak Studios and the coffee company’s current headquarters is in a commercial building offset from Cambridge Street, just across from the neighborhood beer and restaurant. Riggs has been roasting his own coffee since 2013, after he saw an in-café roaster in action during a trip to Iceland and decided to try his hand at it. He purchased a two-pound, Gesin W1 roaster and took an introductory roasting course in Vermont. In 2014, he started producing roasts he was happy to share with friends and family for their feedback, and he now sells beans worldwide from a webstore. He started putting his blends on draft in the new Mad Oak studio, and worked up a deal with Lulu’s co-owner Justin Dalton-Ameen this past summer.

“I want to stay in Allston and stay true to the Mad Oak roots,” Riggs says. He’s been a regular at Lulu’s since it opened in June 2014. Being available there “is a good way to cut my teeth in the whole thing, and see what it’s going to take to make it happen.”

Mad Oak Coffee Roasters typically sources Guatemalan and Costa Rican beans for light roasts; Rwandan and Peruvian beans for medium-bodied coffees; and Sumatran and Papua New Guinean for dark roasts. Riggs endeavors to offer organic coffees from fair farms, and as Mad Oak grows, he plans to stick to this mission. Once he finds an appropriate, local space for a roasting facility-cum-casual coffeeshop, he will bring on a 15-kilogram roaster (roughly 30 pounds) to increase Mad Oak’s capacity, and to add more retail and wholesale clients. At the moment, he fires his coffees on an as-needed basis at Vermont Artisan Coffee Roasters in Waterbury, Vt.

Riggs provides Lulu’s with an exclusive blend of two darker roasts and a lighter bean for a smooth, crowd-pleasing cold brew, he says. Modern Draught systems installers repurposed an underutilized, English-style cask beer line to allow Lulu’s to pour regular, C02-powered cold brew, as well as a nitro line that results in a creamy, cascading version of the house brew, Dalton-Ameen says.

The Mad Oak pours have been popular from the start, he says, especially during busy brunch services. Executive chef Sarah Wade has built up a following for her mid-day meal on both Sundays and Mondays (did somebody say White Trash Hash?).

“We like to try to focus on the local as much as possible, especially something that’s Allston-based,” Dalton-Ameen says. The guests seem to agree: One of the more challenging aspects of having cold brew on draft has been keeping up with the demand for it, he says. “[Riggs] made that tap handle for us, and people see it and ask about it. It’s cool. It goes along with what we’re trying to do here overall.”

Mad Oak Coffee Roasters is available at Lulu’s whenever the restaurant is open. Cold brew by the pint is $4, and a 12-ounce goblet of nitrogenated cold brew is $5. Keep an eye on Mad Oak Coffee Roasters for updates on its plans for growth in 2017.

Lulu’s Allston, 421 Cambridge St., Allston, 617-787-1117,

Mad Oak Coffee Roasters, 390 Cambridge St., Allston,