While America’s obsession with cold brew is relatively new, its history goes back to the 1600s and Kyoto, Japan. Four hundred years and a lot of technological enhancements later, it’s still largely the same process, but the flavor, convenience and all-season appeal of cold brew are making cold brew the hottest thing going in coffee. A surprising fact – cold coffee now outsells hot coffee at the largest coffee chains, led by the preference of younger generations Y and Z.
What we know of as cold brew today traces its roots to cold tea making in 16th century Japan. The long, slow process of extracting tea without heat, just time and cold water was applied to coffee brought to the region by Dutch traders. You may see elaborate glass contraptions in bespoke coffee shops today brewing “Kyoto-style” coffee, drip by drip. It’s gorgeous and entrancing to watch, but not the most efficient! Today you can find cold brew at your local cafe, buy bottled cold brew or make it yourself at home with a simple setup and some patience.
As a third-generation roaster and Italian coffee brand with hundreds of Segafredo cafes around the world, we know a thing or two about coffee! We caught up with one of our master roasters at the Suffolk, VA roastery to get the scoop on why cold brew is taking the world by storm.
What makes a great cold brew?
Great cold brew should be smooth and easy-drinking, with good body and clean coffee flavor. When looking at bottled cold brew, check the label, and avoid the ones with adjuncts, preservatives that will diminish the true flavors. You can call us purists, but real cold brew should just be two ingredients — the best coffee beans and water!
What are the benefits of cold brew?
“Because of the cold extraction process, the resulting coffee is smooth and full-bodied, without the bitterness or acidity that can come from hot brewed coffee. It’s also essentially a concentrate, and that long extraction time packs more caffeine per cup than traditional coffee. And while hot coffee’s flavor profile can change dramatically when chilled or iced, cold brew is very stable and versatile, ready for anything from nitrogen infusion to tonics or coffee cocktails.”
Does it make sense to make cold brew at home?
“It’s always easier to get it at your local café, and we love when you support the cafes that buy our beans or cold brew! But it is not hard to make at all. We recommend a light roast like our Brilliante® blend for a bright, citrusy, and smooth, easy-drinking experience. With either a Toddy-style system or a simple French press, use about a 5:1 ratio of cold water to medium coarse-ground beans, combine and let sit for 12-16 hours, ideally overnight. Then strain off the grounds, and store your cold brew concentrate in the fridge until ready to use!”
What are the best ways to enjoy cold brew?
Part of the appeal of cold brew is its versatility. From a cold-brew martini or a boozy brunch concoction, to a simple iced coffee with or without your favorite milk, the possibilities are endless. In summertime, I love a cold brew spritzer – a splash of sparking water for bubbles and a small amount of juice (citrus is nice) or a flavor of your choice. If you’re feeling fancy, we have a recipe for a grapefruit cold brew tonic that’s pretty tasty.