Why is Cold Brew So “Hot”?

With food and beverage trends on the rise (think: gluten free, chia seeds, kombucha, kale, etc.) it may be difficult to track their rhyme and reason. Does the current political climate dictate consumers’ desire for turmeric flavored teas? Who knows. And though trends may be limited to urban, “hip” areas (Bowery, Southern California, etc.), they do ignite and engulf these areas with force.

Yes, you can still count on Bob’s Diner on Main St. in Arkansas to serve pots of “coffee” with refills. So what is driving consumers to the supermarket to buy 8oz, 12oz, 16oz aluminum cans, glass bottles, cartons, pop-top containers, and jugs of cold brew coffee?

For one, it’s the process; cold brew coffee is held to a higher standard in coffee-lovers’ eyes because it is produced in a complex, smooth, and literally “cool” way.

As Merlin Jobst notes in How to Make Cold Brew Coffee:

“Cold-brewed coffee is ground coffee steeped in cold water and strained, and iced coffee is generally brewed hot and poured over ice…The difference in flavor between the two methods is immense. Iced coffee is a very fast process, but has to be brewed to be stronger than standard coffee to make up for the severe dilution caused by the ice. This method tends to make for a more bitter drink, because of the intense and rapid extraction of flavor from the beans by the hot water. Cold brew, on the other hand, takes a formidable 18—24 hours. However, the far gentler infusion process produces a drink of lower acidity, which is why cold brew coffee is naturally sweeter. It can also be served over ice without such extreme dilution because it’s already cold. For these reasons, cold brewing is generally regarded as the better method for producing cold coffee. There are a couple of home-methods for this, and they are all variants of a basic formula: cold water, coarse coffee grounds, and an overnight brew. Changing a variable will produce slightly different results, from a longer brew or stronger coffee-to-water ratio producing a stronger cup, and a finer grind producing a cloudier drink.”

And what about quality? Cold brew coffee companies in California, Illinois, New York, etc. use the very best Brazilian coffee beans, farm raised, certified fair trade, etc.
As The Washington Post describes:

“Kevin Kickham, a 24-year-old development specialist at a charter school in St. Louis, started drinking cold-brew about six months ago, after a barista friend insisted he try it. He became a convert because “the flavor’s a lot more full. I definitely like that it’s less acidic,” he said. Now, it’s become a twice-a-week habit. Still, he thinks flavor isn’t the only reason he and his peers have a preference for the drink. It’s also that cold-brew seems a little more special. “There’s an air of pretentiousness when you say ‘cold-brew,” said Kickham. “I think it has a lot to do with how it’s marketed.” That marketing tends to be organic, relying on its cool factor and social media. Cold-brew looks great on Instagram.

In a market that appears saturated at the shelf level, new brands are always on the rise; choosing to spend their precious marketing dollars this year on cold brew coffee campaigns.

Who is the target consumer? In a word, Millennials. The latest cold brew coffee brands, the latest cold brew coffee flavors (Tahitian vanilla, toasted caramel, cinnamon agave) are very much Millennial. Born in California and bred on Instagram, Millennials are mostly all on the same page (literally) with trends. They “follow” each other. They all take the same series of photo – brunch, Coachella, French bulldog, peonies, and yes, cold brew coffee.

How to keep the trend alive? Introduce new brands, new flavors, even new milks and new variations (tea related, for example). Chai cold brew is a great example, made-smooth with almond milk or subtle brown sugar flavors.

As for all those certifications, “slow steeped, Kosher, single origin, direct trade, non-GMO” they don’t all have it. Only the most premium brands like Bowery Cold Brew California Coffee Company can achieve and earn these labels.
Cold-brew.org, very much the expert, explains:

“Shade growing also promotes natural insect and pest control. That’s important, because cold-brew standards dictate the use of non-GMO, organically grown coffee raised without toxic pesticides, reducing potential risks for growers, laborers and consumers alike. How can you, the consumer, know if the cold-brew coffee products you buy are produced under these conditions? One shortcut is to look for products made with Fair Trade coffee. That ensures that the coffee was grown sustainably and that the grower received a fair price for their beans. The two main species of coffee beans are Arabica and Robusta. Without exception, the finest cold-brew coffee products will use 100% Arabica beans. Though coffee Arabica is more difficult to grow and its plants produce lower yields, the more delicate and nuanced flavor profiles and lower acidity of Arabica beans yield a vastly superior final product. After harvest, there are two main ways of processing coffee beans before they are roasted.”

What about caffeine? Do we want more or less? Do we need caffeine to keep going past that 2:30pm time on a slow Wednesday afternoon? One of the best parts about cold brew coffee is you can grab a fine glass bottle from the fridge and go. No waiting around the company coffee pot for your brew to steep, and quite frankly that’s fantastic.

Additionally, cold brew coffee seems to be quite an American trend, as Europeans are still sipping their cafes au lait and cappuccinos in cafes across the pond. Cafés in America represent brands you can almost always buy at any supermarket or convenience store – and if you are really in the know, you can find them at all the major trade shows: Sweets & Snacks Expo, Expo West, California Grocers Association, Western Associated of Food Chains, IDDBA, and more.

If you are looking for a pick me up, try Bowery Cold Brew Company, the cold brew coffee company, and other major cold brews trending across the country. They are delicious, fantastic, and smooth and sweet. They are now easy to find, and they are on the rise. Drink cold brew coffee for a smoother kick, if you need a ready-to-drink option in delicious flavors like cacao, cold brew is a great, fantastic choice. And talk about choices, there are many. Check out this article below with more info on the options: “Its time to trade in that hot cup of morning office sludge for a refreshing cold brew. Different than iced coffee, which is just your average hot coffee diluted with ice, cold-brew coffee is made without any added heat, resulting in a much bolder flavor, less acidity, and … hallelujah! … a bigger caffeine kick.

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