12-Hour Coffee

Aug. 5, 2014
There’s an art to brewing coffee, even if you are drinking it cold.

For years coffee has been reaching new levels of complexity. It’s gone from different fractional pack weights, regional beans, Fair Trade and flavored to single cup. Now there is a new trend gaining popularity in coffee chains across the nation for those who consider themselves coffee purists: Cold brew.

Cold brew isn’t iced coffee. Cold brew refers to how the coffee is produced. Very simply stated, ground coffee is soaked in room-temperature water, or chilled water, for an average of 12 hours, then filtered out, leaving a coffee that is concentrated, less acidic and sweeter tasting (less bitter). The concentrate can be used in everything from cooking to iced coffees.

Ready-to-drink concentrate

While the process of cold brew has been around for decades, its popularity in the main stream population has grown in only the last few years. There are consumers reporting that many national coffee chains use this method in preparing iced coffee beverages, where less gourmet coffee chains are simply pouring hot coffee over ice. And it is something the iced coffee consumers feel very strongly about.

Seattle’s Best is one chain that has taken advantage of the cold brew trend. It hosted a video on its Website instructing viewers on the process of cold brewing coffee at home with minimal supplies in order to make a Mother’s Day iced coffee.

Cold brew in the breakroom

Cold brew is even appearing in offices. A coffee service provider – Joyride Coffee with office in New York and California— is offering cold brew coffee in 1-gallon and 5-gallon containers. Described as a smooth, chocolaty cup of coffee that lacks typical acidity, the operator suggests consumers mix the concentrate with milk or dilute it with water for a smooth cup of coffee.

It is also appearing in other places. Stone Creek Coffee in Milwaukee, WI, offers its cold brew blend in bottles; Stumptown Coffee, headquartered in Portland, OR, offers its cold brew in various sizes and many other regional roaster are launching their own cold brew blends. 

As the consumer gets more educated about the particulars of coffee, especially iced coffee, it’s important for office coffee service operators to understand the complexity of this specialty drink. It’s an area that garners a heftier margin than traditional hot brew and is increasing in popularity.