Cold brew coffee has taken the world by storm. Once a niche drink enjoyed mostly by coffee aficionados, it is now available almost everywhere. It can be found in cafes and restaurants as well as grocery stores, gas stations, and even vending machines. In other words, no matter where you are and what time of day it is, you’re bound to find cold brew iced coffee somewhere nearby.
Whether you’ve fallen in love with cold brew or are still trying it out for the first time, this article will provide a deep look into the origins, production methods, and many great uses for this fantastic beverage.
What is Cold Brew Coffee?
Cold brew coffee is a special type of coffee that is brewed with cold water. The end result is a beverage that is less acidic, less bitter, and less “hot” in flavor than coffee brewed with hot water.
Cold brewing can be traced as far back as the 1940s in the United States, where it was primarily used for commercial production. Only in the past 10-15 years has it become popular as a method for home brewing.
How Is Cold Brew Made at Scale
In order to understand how cold brew is made at scale, it is important to understand how it’s made at home.
The most common method for making cold brews is to grind coffee beans, add them to a large container, and then add room temperature or cold water. The mixture is then left to steep at room temperature for 12-24 hours. The resulting mixture (known as coffee “sludge”) is then filtered using a fine mesh bag or cheesecloth.
Cold brew coffee can be served hot or cold. If served hot, it is often done so by heating the coffee while leaving it in the same container it steeped in. If served cold, it is often done so by transferring the coffee to a refrigerator or cold beverage dispenser.
Cold Brew Coffee vs. Hot Brew Coffee
Most of the differences between cold brew and regular coffee brew method stem from the fact hot water is used for the latter. When brewing coffee with hot water, the process extracts both the desirable flavors and the undesirable flavors from the coffee beans.
However, one of the benefits of cold brew coffee is that it extracts only the desirable flavors from the coffee beans. The hot water extracts compounds that are responsible for the “hot” flavor of the coffee. This is because it forces them out due to high heat.
Cold water, on the other hand, extracts compounds that contribute to coffee’s sweetness and its less acidic taste. These are the flavors that come out naturally in cold water, and it is one of the reasons why many people prefer the taste of cold coffee.
Types of Cold Brew Coffee
There are two main types of cold brew coffee - iced and concentrate. Iced cold brew coffee is simply cold brewed coffee that has been brewed using cold or room temperature water for between 12 and 24 hours. Concentrate cold brew coffee is made by brewing coffee with room temperature or cold water for longer than normal.
Both types of cold brew coffee can be poured over ice, but iced cold brew coffee can also be blended with water to create a frappe-like beverage. Iced cold brew coffee can also be blended with milk to create a cafe latte-like beverage or blended with milk and ice to create an iced coffee-like beverage.
When using concentrate, you get a much stronger drink. However, it will likely need to be watered down or mixed with something else since it can be too strong for most drinkers.
Cold Brew Concentrate
Another way in which cold brew coffee differs from hot brewed coffee is that it can be made into a concentrate. This means that it is brewed in large batches and then stored in a container until it is ready to be consumed.
When made in large batches, cold brew coffee has a much longer shelf life than hot-brewed coffee. This is especially true when it is stored in an airtight container.
Cold brew can also be made into a concentrate by brewing a larger amount of coffee than would be required to make a single batch of coffee. In order to do this, one must make sure to use the proper ratio of coffee beans to water. Then, let it steep for longer than usual. This will extract more from the beans and create a much stronger drink.
A concentrate is often used in mixed drinks to give it that coffee flavor without having to use a large amount of coffee. It also increases the amount of caffeine.
Nitro Cold Brew
Iced cold brew coffee can be made even more special with the addition of a nitrogen-charged gas known as nitro. Nitro cold brew coffee is coffee made using cold brew coffee concentrate, filtered water, and a keg or pressurized CO2 canister. When poured through a nitrogen-charged cold brew coffee, it produces a cascading effect like that seen in Guinness beer. Nitro cold brew coffee is a great beverage to serve at cafes and coffee shops, and it is also a fantastic beverage to make at home.
Flavored Cold Brew
Flavored cold brew coffee is made by brewing a normal batch of cold brew coffee and then adding things like milk, sugar, or pieces of fruit to make a flavored beverage.
Cold brew coffee can be flavored in a variety of ways, including:
- Adding a sweetener
- Adding syrup or other flavorings
- Blending in fruit or other ingredients
- Adding milk to create a cafe latte-like beverage.
You can drink cold brew coffee hot or cold. If served hot, it is often done so by heating the coffee while leaving it in the same container it steeped in. If you serve coffee that’s cold, it is often done so by transferring the coffee to a refrigerator or cold beverage dispenser.