Ever wonder why cold-brew coffee is more expensive but seems exactly the same as your regular order of iced coffee? After looking into it and finally being able to try a cold-brew drink, I can finally say that it is definitely not just a trendy drink for your Instagram feed.
It’s not just your typical hot-brewed coffee with ice cubes. The process of making the coffee is a completely different approach from others.
Time is the biggest factor for cold-brew drinks. Coffee grounds are immersed in either room temperature or cold water for 12-24 hours. Once the grounds have finished steeping, they are drained. The process essentially makes a coffee concentrate. The longer the grounds stay in the water, the stronger its flavor becomes.
Cold-brew coffee can be traced back to Kyoto, Japan, in the 1600s. However, their style of making cold brew may seem a little more tedious even though the process is still the same. Kyoto-style cold brew is almost like an art form.
While a single bead of water is dropped into the coffee grounds, a single bead of coffee is brewed, both at the same time and drop by drop. This style is still the original, as cold/room temperature water is being used. This meticulous form can be seen in cafes around the world today.
The big question: How’s the taste? Does it taste better or worse than your regular cup of joe? This style of brewing actually makes the coffee less bitter and even naturally sweeter. When heating coffee, the heat actually draws out the acidity in coffee grounds, which is where the bitter taste comes from. However, cold-brewed coffee doesn’t involve any heat, so little to no acidity exists in it.
The natural sweetness also helps pair the coffee well with add-ins like milk. Cold brew does have more caffeine, but because it is like a concentrate, this style is often diluted with water or milk to almost a 50/50 ratio.
Another benefit is that the taste won’t change from the original bean. Like with a regular iced coffee, the coffee was brewed hot and then chilled with ice cubes, going through different temperature changes. Temperature changes have effects on taste. With a cold brew coffee, the temperature is constant since it never deals with heat.
Even though cold brew coffee may sound simple (just steeping in water), there are still different styles.
However, do not get this confused with iced coffee. Iced coffee is made by brewing the coffee hot and then adding ice cubes to cool it. With cold brew, after the concentrate is made it can be mixed with cold water/milk for a richer finish.
Surprisingly, cold brew can be made hot by mixing it with hot water. This may seem like it defeats the process but since the way cold brew coffee is made, it is lower in acidity. People who have sensitive stomachs can use cold brew to make their hot cup of joe.
Cold brew coffee can be seen in many pre-made coffee drinks as it’s a very versatile base for ready drinks.
Overall, cold brew is just another style among the various ways to make and drink coffee. No matter how you prefer your coffee, there are still so many ways out there in the world to enhance the taste of coffee. For me, cold brew was just another style I can check off my list of coffees to try that will help me on my caffeine-dependent journey through college.