Welcome to SUNDAY Coffee, the weekend blog where we highlight all that’s great about the premium coffee industry around the world. Today we are taking a close look at cold brew coffee.
Cold brew is a unique brewing process that offers great flavor and health benefits other brewing methods my lack. You can try it at home or purchase directly from a professional brewer. We explore both options. A special thanks to Benjamin Lee and Norther Bayou Cold Brew Co. for the inspiration for today’s SUNDAY Coffee!
Cold Brew Is Not “Iced” Coffee
When I say “cold coffee”, what is the first image that comes to mind? I immediately imagine a glass of coffee on ice. Often, this type of cold coffee is hot coffee that has been cooled down. It could be cooled in the fridge over night or left to rest until room temperature and then poured over ice. Perhaps its better to refer to this, not as cold coffee, but “iced coffee”.
“Iced Coffee”, can be traced back to an Algerian drink popular in the 1840’s. This iced coffee, called Mazagran (cafe mazagran), is prepared hot and then poured over ice. Known for its sweet but strong flavor, there are a number of variations depending on the country your in.
The Process of Cold Brew
Cold brew isn’t a reference to the craft beverage itself, but the process of brewing ground coffee beans at room temperature or with ice cold water. The cold brew process uses time in the place of heat for brewing. Cold brew can be a bit labor intensive. It takes about 8 hours to produce 32 oz of cold coffee, but the result is worth it.
Cold brewed coffee is a coffee concentrate. While adding ice to make a hot coffee cold dilutes the beverage; adding ice or milk to cold brew concentrate makes for a great flavored coffee experience.
When you brew coffee, it draws out several compounds like oils and fatty acids from the bean. These compounds are only soluble at the high temperatures reached with traditional brewing methods. When you cold brew, the coffee bean is never exposed to those high temperatures, and so those bitter oils and acids are not released into the brew.
The cold brewing method, while leaving the acids behind, extracts the two things we love most about coffee – flavor and caffeine! When you taste cold brewed coffee for the first time, you will notice a smoother and sweeter flavor. This is because its absent of the acids diluting the true bean flavor.
Another quality of cold brew is the health benefits. Since the acidity of cold brew coffee is so low, those suffering from acid reflux can enjoy cold brew without serious side effects.
Trying Cold Brew At Home
To enjoy cold brew coffee in your own home, you will need to invest in a Cold Brew Tower. A simple Cold Brew Tower can be as cheap as $25 or you can go top drawer with a $500 tower, depending on how elaborate you would like to be.
The best grind to use for the cold brew process is a course or medium. Of course, freshly ground is always best. Most towers will have a glass bowl at the top where you will add your ice. Then pour filtered water over the ice until its covered. Brewing time varies depending on the speed of the drip (recommended one drip per second) and the amount of coffee your brewing.
Don’t be shy. Brewing can take as long as 12 hours to complete, so brew enough to enjoy for days to follow. Your cold brewed coffee can stay in the fridge for up to two weeks.
Remember, this is coffee concentrate, so dilute with water or milk and mix to your taste. You can make it as strong or a weak as you like. Miss your cup of hot coffee? Not a problem, simply add your concentrate to steaming hot water for a flavor packed experience.
Northern Bayou Cold Brew Co.
Northern Bayou Cold Brew was founded in September of 2014 and is a cold brew bottling company in Northern Vermont. Like most craft beverage businesses today, Northern Bayou is a small business producing a premium product. For Northern Bayou, that premium beverage is coffee.
The most exciting craft part of making cold brew is if you work with the grind in the right way, the roast in the right way … single origin or … come up with the right blend, you can make drastically different making coffees just as you can brewing a hot cup of coffee.
Benjamin Lee is the founder of Northern Bayou Cold Brew Co. and as its primary brewer, salesman, deliverer and marketer, “Ben” wears a lot of hats! Recently we had an opportunity to meet Ben by way of a Google Plus Hangout to learn more about cold brew coffee and what makes it so special.
Northern Bayou’s Cold Brew
When picking the right flavor profile to use, Ben looks to the palette of his consumers. Northern Bayou’s Original Brew has a “robust, chocolaty, smooth” flavor and uses medium to dark roast Ethiopian beans (organic & farm direct).
Like hops? Try Northern Bayou’s Hopped Cold Brew, packed with Citra hops to give it the citrus and floral characteristics craft beer drinkers love.
Maybe chocolate is your preferred flavor. Cocoa Nib Cold Brew combines the single origin cocoa nibs with Ethiopian beans to produce a dark chocolate experience that beats any mocha brew you’ve ever tasted.