July 09, 2020
You've probably heard of it, you probably know people who drink it, and you've probably met that one guy who swears it's the only coffee worth drinking but what is cold brew coffee and why is everyone talking about it? Let us explain.
Like all things coffee-related that become wildly popular and hyped, it started with Starbucks. While they didn't come up with the concept of cold brew coffee, they made it so mainstream that everyone is talking about it and everyone is making it. From the ready-to-drink bottles at the store to the pricey little cup of cold brew at your local coffee shop, cold brew coffee seems to be taking over and you probably have a lot of questions about it.
Don't worry because we have a team of cold brew coffee connoisseurs here to answer your questions and trust us, this is the wake-up call you need to get properly caffeinated.
How is Cold Brew Coffee different from Iced Coffee?
Iced coffee is just coffee brewed the traditional way, with hot water, then poured over ice to make it cold. Cold Brew actually has a different brewing process, which requires steeping coarsely ground coffee in room temperature or cold water for 12 hours to 24 hours. Then brewers strain the coffee to create a coffee concentrate that can be mixed with cold water or milk.
Coarsely grinding the coffee ensures better filtration and minimizes bitterness. Cold brew concentrate is rich in flavor and can be customized to an individual's taste by brewing it for a shorter or longer period of time.
Why does it cost more than regular coffee?
Unlike hot coffee which can be brewed almost instantly, cold brew has a more time-consuming brewing process and requires a lot of pre-planning to sell. Since it takes so many hours to brew a batch of cold brew coffee, each batch is precious and there tends to be a lower inventory of cold brew than a hot coffee that can be brewed on-demand. Additionally, the special brewing method offers many benefits that enhance the quality of the coffee.
Why do people love it?
It's packed with flavor.
Since cold brew coffee comes from a process that creates a concentrate, every bit of flavor is extracted from during the long brewing process. This brewing process also minimizes bitterness and makes the coffee smoother.
It's less acidic.
Cold brew coffee is known to be less acidic than traditional coffee. This means the coffee is more gentle on the stomach and less likely to stain your teeth.
It contains more caffeine than traditional coffee.
The brewing process tends to require a higher coffee to water ratio to produce the rich cold brew concentrate. With this special brewing technique, brewers can make coffee that contains, on average, twice as much caffeine. This means you can drink less but get the same caffeine pick-me-up.
Can you make cold brew coffee at home?
If you're looking to save money, you can easily make homemade cold brew with a couple of cups of water and a french press or coffee filters. Typically, a ratio of 1 cup of water to 1/4 cup of whole coffee beans or 1/2 cup of ground coffee will produce a simple and basic cold brew coffee. Check out our article on How To Make Cold Brew Coffee at Home and we'll walk you through the step-by-step process.
How long does cold brew concentrate last?
This is a very difficult question because it depends on your homebrewing process. Strong sanitation practices and your brewing techniques will greatly affect the expiry of your concentrate. Additionally, just because the taste of your cold brew has changed, doesn't mean your cold brew has gone bad but it has just oxidized.
Homemade cold brew coffee, like any other brewed beverage, tastes best between 24 to 48 hours because the aromas and flavors have a rapid rate of decay. As soon as your cold brew is done brewing, it begins to lose flavor because it is exposed to oxygen and light, which breaks down the complex notes and flavors. Depending on your pallet and flavor preferences, you may find yourself enjoying the cold brew concentration for a shorter or longer period time than the average person.
For the most part, cold brew coffee is still good up to 14 days. Obviously, the longer you keep it the more the flavors will begin to change. You can also choose to pasteurize your homebrew cold brew coffee by sealing and boiling it in mason jars but while the pasteurization process will extend the life of your cold brew, it is at the cost of flavor.
What kind of roast is best for cold brew?
This depends on your preference in coffee but many brewers strongly recommend dark roast coffee and believe light roasts tend to not offer the same rich and well-rounded flavors and aromas when cold brewed.
Dark roast coffee will give you that rich, chocolatey, and nutty flavors that are very enjoyable in a cold brew coffee. However, some people may find dark roasts to lack complex notes and instead prefer a medium roast, which will contain the best of light and dark roasts. With a little bit of floral and fruit but some notes of nuttiness from dark roasts. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and experimenting with your own cold brew.
Are there other options if homemade cold brew is too much work?
We get it. You're still figuring out meal prepping and the last thing you want to do is plan your cup of coffee in the morning. If you're looking for an easier means to get your daily cold brew fix at home, we highly recommend a cold brew coffee kegerator system. This is something our whole office swears by because it dispenses consistently great tasting cold brew and it doesn't require brewing coffee daily.
This compact coffee dispenser lives on any countertop and dispenses rich and flavorful cold brew coffee on-demand. Our favorite new cold brew dispenser is the innovative, Illy Bag-In-A-Box, which delivers delicious, rich, and consistent tasting creamy cold brew from this mini kegerator.
The nice thing about this cold brew coffee is that it is very well manufactured, so the flavor doesn't decay rapidly over time like home-brewed coffee. You can even use the mini kegerator to dispense homebrewed cold brew coffee or beer with a 1.75-gallon or 2.5-gallon mini ball lock keg.
What else can I do with cold brew concentrate?
Cold brew concentrate can be used to make more than just daily coffee. You can use it to make cocktails, flavored iced coffees, milkshakes, and even ice cream or popsicles. Check out these 5 Fun Drinks Using Cold Brew Coffee.
Should I try cold brew coffee?
Cold brew coffee has grown in popularity and it isn't just because it's trendy. There is a real difference in flavor that many people enjoy or prefer over traditionally hot brewed coffee. The rich and robust flavors plus, the minimal bitterness makes it so easy to enjoy.
The benefits alone, are worth giving cold brew coffee a try. From its low acidity to its high caffeine content, cold brew is paving a permanent path in may people's hearts. Head to our article on the benefits of cold brew to learn more.
There is also nitro cold brew coffee, which adds a whole nother element of flavor to cold brew coffee but if you want to know more about nitro, head to our article on nitro cold brew coffee.