What is cold brew, and why is everyone all over this trend? Cold brew coffee is not a new thing, but it was previously only popular with serious coffee drinkers. Today, this bold and delicious drink is making its way into mainstream markets, disrupting the industry as we know it.
Make no mistake – cold brew is not synonymous with regular iced coffee. This drink takes a tedious process that involves brewing coffee over room temperature or cold water for as long as 12 to 24 hours at a time.
Chris Ross, a roaster at Café Grumpy in New York City, explained how the process turns a usually bitter drink into a mellow and rounded out beverage. “Because it’s made with colder water…there’s more of a full body and a little less acidity [compared to regular iced coffee],” he expounded.
Cold Brew = Cool Beans?
There are many variants and recipes, including New Orleans-style that uses chicory for a spicy kick, as well as cold brew tea. It’s not just neighborhood cafes that sell these either, as top brands including Starbucks released their own version a few years back. What was once regionally available mostly in the south is now available all over the US and in various parts of the globe.
In fact, Swiss company Nestlé – the largest food company in the world, recently acquired Chameleon Cold-Brew. Chameleon’s co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) Chris Campbell has taken pride in his products. In business since 2010, the Austin, Texas-based Chameleon was the first fair trade and organic cold brew company in the country. They even received the BevNet Best Coffee award in 2014 – an accolade that points to the quality and taste their product offers.
Along with co-founder Steve Williams, Campbell created a revolution in the coffee industry when the pair introduced fair trade, organic cold brew that’s brewed for 16 hours and available in several flavors in either concentrate or ready-to-drink variants. Using 100% recycled packaging as well as shipping through Green Mountain Energy’s carbon offset program, Chameleon Cold-Brew set the bar high for taste, sustainability, and quality.
Coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the world, but its sales often decline during summer months. With cold brew becoming mainstream in recent years, there is an undeniable surge in demand, even more so compared to other iced coffee options.
Interestingly, cold brew’s non-acidic feature can be both a blessing and a curse. Certain coffee circles look at cold brew with detracting eyes, as they believe coffee’s brightness and acidity is its true form. Essentially, why get rid of what defines great coffee? For others, the smooth, less acidic taste is a welcomed characteristic.
Getting in On the Cold Brew Action
Regardless of which type of coffee a person prefers, there is no denying that cold brew is here to stay. In addition to cold brew’s popularity at Starbucks’s and Chameleon acquisition by Nestlé, there are many food companies big and small banking on the cold brew dollar.
Cold brew is not instant – one of the fastest brews can steep for as little as three hours, but it’s still quite a long time compared to the normal brewing time of just minutes for a typical hot cup of joe. Converting regularly brewed coffee into iced coffee by adding ice or turning it into a frappe just isn’t the same either. As such, companies left and right are taking bold risks and serving cold brew in many unique and flavorful ways. It could be a normal cup of icy cold brew, or it could be used in creating latte art – a drink that can easily be Instagrammable or Snapchat-worthy.
One of the most popular forms is having cold brew on the go. For instance, Lucky Jack’s Double Black Nitro Cold Brew Coffee comes in bottled form, while High Brew Coffee Black & Bold comes in cans. An interesting version is the boxed drink, such as what Califia Farms Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate and Wandering Bear Coffee Big ‘ole Box both offer.
Other brands that come to mind are La Colombe Pure Black, Red Thread Good Purist Nicaraguan Cold Brew Concentrate, Stumptown Cold Brew Coffee, Caveman Coffee Nitro Cold Brew, Villa Myriam Nitro Cold Brew, Grady’s Cold Brew, Seaworth Coffee Co. Single Fin Sludge, and Slingshot Coffee Co. Concentrate Coffee.
Whether pure or as a concentrate, enjoyed on the go or served in an artisanal manner, flavored or in its original form, cold brew definitely makes for an interesting cup of java. So what’s next for this grab-and-go coffee with rich, bold flavors and a high caffeine kick? With canned, bottled, and even abundant recipes for your own home brewed versions available everywhere, who knows?