So what exactly is Cold Brew Coffee?
As the name describes, cold brew coffee is ground coffee steeped and strained with cold water, often through a special filter device. Usually steeped for 18-24hrs, this process results in a concentrate to which water or milk is added to make your serving of cold brew coffee!
This trend however isn’t exactly as new as it appears, as with many food and beverage traditions there is a history that dates back centuries… So where exactly did cold brew start?
The History of Cold Brew
It’s generally accepted that the first documented creation of cold brew coffee was brought about by the Dutch in the 17th century. Back then, Dutch traders were selling coffee from the islands of Indonesia to Japan, and needed to figure out a way to brew large quantities of coffee that wouldn’t expire during long sea voyages. The simple method of cold brewing did the trick: steep roasting ground coffee in water for about 24 hours to enjoy!
Commerce then explains how Dutch cold brew methods spread to Japan, where it got adopted and accustomed into their own Kyoto-Drip method – a method still popular today. This involves slowly dripping cold water over coffee grounds to produce a rich concentrate, rather than immersing the grounds in water.
Recently, the dramatic rise of cold brew around the world has seen it appear in several formats, with Starbucks picking up the trend in 2015, followed by other giants. Grocery stores now have dozens of ready to drink cans of cold brew coffee to choose from too! Mintel research shows 24% of consumers currently drink retail-purchased cold-brew coffee, with older millennials aged 21 to 38 (55%), and men (30%) stand out as the groups most likely to drink this type of coffee.
Breaking the daily grind with innovative applications!
The gentler steeping and infusion process involved in the making of cold brew leaves you with a smoother, naturally sweeter, and less acidic concentrate compared to a standard hot and cold coffee. This lends itself to a more refined palate, and opens doors to baristas and mixologists to play with creative applications of the drinks!
Ranging from whipped cream to dashes of sweet syrups, the refreshing magic of cold brew means it can also be served as is, with ice, or with milk. Some of the most daring baristas may even chose to experiment with spices (cinnamon, chai, etc.), fruit pieces (coconut), inclusions such as tapioca pearls (boba tea!? Count me in!), alcohol and even food! (Word on the street is that cold brew can be an interesting base for marinating sauces…!)
With such a wide range of applications, cold brew is truly shaping an exciting way forward for the coffee landscape!
Sneak peak into the future: Nitro Cold Brew…
You may have seen Nitro cold brew around. It’s served from a tap and looks strikingly similar to the way you’d receive a draft beer – part of the excitement!
It can now be found in cafes all around, from niche coffee specialty shops including Starbucks and other coffee giants, even gyms and restaurants are now serving this delicious beverage! Between the health conscious ingredients and excellent taste, the beverage has caught a huge amount of attention in the fitness space. Fitness fans have shown a particular likening to Nitro coffee. The nitrogen gives the flavour natural hints of sweetness, a dairy-free option allowing many coffee fanatics to drink it straight – less acidic and easier on the digestive systems! It gets the greenlight for those following a vegan, keto and paleo diet.
(Photo: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg)
More on this in our upcoming Talking Taste issue…
What is for certain is that the category of cold brew coffee has great opportunity for more growth. This is for sure as it continues to meet drinker’s demands and innovates with current trends, including alternative preparation methods, premium or artisanal brews and better-for-you options. If you haven’t already jumped on the cold brew train, it’s time to get on board!