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Why Is Cold Brew So Popular?!?!

PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2014 1:53 pm
by scottlucey
Boom! Coffeed.com is back!
I recently emailed Mr. Peter G about some questions I had on ice coffee. I know he and I share similar preferences, and a lot of what I know brings me back around to some fantastic conversation we had here on coffeed.com years and years ago!

Here's the thread! http://coffeed.com/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=3370&hilit=ice+coffee

Peter suggested I post again here on coffeed.com, apparently he's up to something.

Mainly, my questions was, "WHY IS COLD BREW SO POPULAR?!"
All cold brew coffee I've tasted has what I think is a syrupy characteristic going on that to me is more of a generic coffee flavor than it is like the flavors we know and look for when brewing hot coffee.
I wanted to attempt some redemption with cold brew/Toddy. My buddy Nathan and I were brainstorming that maybe if we recalibrated a grinder to grind way more coarse than it is set to do, we could perchance improve the quality of our cold brew.
Results = a little better, but not enough to want more.
Next was the 'fuckit we're going whole bean' decision. This was perhaps the most interesting thing I've done in a while, specifically for the reactions that came with it.
Results = A wholebean toddy brew with a classic Ethiopian Yirgachffee did extract (my diluted beverage's TDS was 1.40) albeit light in color and light in body/acidity. The mouthful was still syrupy, but when teamed up with the all-around light character positive comments came spilling in. More people LOVED this version than did any of the other brews (don't get me wrong, so many people still love the regular brew cold brew).

1) I don't buy the smoothness/bitterness pitch that comes with most cold brew brewers. Perhaps that could be explained better, to me most all coffee will be bitter, I believe it's inherent to the product (with the exception of some off the charts "acidity bangers.")
2) Why is the character of cold brew so popular?!?! I've tasted and tested old vs. new with people failing to tell the difference. I don't get it... also, no shelf life? How can one form of brewing be so different from our hot standards, yet produce something so popular (and equally different?)

Peter? I'd love to see what you're up to, and perhaps have some fun conversation on here again.

sL

Re: Why Is Cold Brew So Popular?!?!

PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2014 8:08 pm
by Peter G
Scott,

I think about this all the time. When I first started doing the Japanese Method, I figured cold brew was a thing of the past. I have been surprised by how popular and ubiquitous it has become even since then. Myself, I put this down to two basic reasons:

1. People love the term "Cold Brew". "Cold" is cool, of course, but "brew" is the part people love. "Brew" is a word used for both coffee and beer, and so when Stumptown first produced its Cold Brew beer bottles (super smart choice), it had a little clever wordplay built in. What's the perfect thing to drink while a little hungover after a summer party? COLD BREW. All the better if it looks like ACTUAL BEER. The appeal of "drinking" during the day is just too tempting for people. As a result, "cold brew" has become a generic term for cold coffee no matter how it is brewed. I believe coffee people often mistakenly think civilians like cold brew (the style of brewing) when they are actually telling us they like cold brew (iced coffee).

2. Cold brewed coffee fits certain flavor needs very well. Last year, I made a batch of "Death Cream" (featured in Sprudge http://sprudge.com/secret-coffee-recipe-1980s-back-still-delicious.html and I realized that cold brewed coffee was probably a better choice than Japanese-style for that application. Who needs all that refreshing acidity and floral jazz when mixing with cream and vanilla? What you need is big, thick coffee flavor to compete with the cream. "Big, thick coffee flavor", which cold brewed coffee delivers really well, is perfect for cream users (which is a big chunk of people), and for those whose fantasy of coffee flavor is thick and chocolatey (which is a lot of people).

I keep meeting coffee pros who prefer Japanese-style iced, but make cold-brewed coffee in their shop. A couple blind tests on food websites came out this year, and declared Japanese-style the flavor winner, which does not surprise me a bit. Is a switch to Japanese-style coming soon? Will we see kegs of bright, refreshing iced coffee replacing kegs of cold brew (or placed beside them)?

Re: Why Is Cold Brew So Popular?!?!

PostPosted: Tue Jul 15, 2014 7:12 am
by Mike White
Hey Peter, I've noticed that the Japanese Method tastes better if I make it a day in advance and let it rest overnight. Any theories as to why?

Re: Why Is Cold Brew So Popular?!?!

PostPosted: Tue Jul 15, 2014 7:37 am
by jmc
Peter G wrote:S...Who needs all that refreshing acidity and floral jazz when mixing with cream and vanilla? What you need is big, thick coffee flavor to compete with the cream. "Big, thick coffee flavor", which cold brewed coffee delivers really well, is perfect for cream users (which is a big chunk of people), and for those whose fantasy of coffee flavor is thick and chocolatey (which is a lot of people).


I think this is the main reason, people really love cold brew. The marketing and ease of brewing/storage doesn't hurt either.

Re: Why Is Cold Brew So Popular?!?!

PostPosted: Tue Jul 15, 2014 9:27 am
by Peter G
Mike, I don't know about that and have never experienced it myself. Perhaps related (perhaps not) I've noticed that great Yirgacheffes seem to improve many days after roasting.

In both of these instances, oxygen would be the first thing to guess at. I'm loath to make any big statements (I've kind of oversold scientific explanations about Japanese iced in the past :)) but have you ever tried shaking or decanting Japanese iced to see if it improves the flavor in the same way? Seems like it would, if exposure to air was the factor.

Re: Why Is Cold Brew So Popular?!?!

PostPosted: Tue Jul 15, 2014 7:22 pm
by colecoffee
I really hope more conversations move from social media back here! That would be great.

My experience with customers and Cold Brew have been that they almost never like it unless it has at least cream in it if not also sugar. I've also done quite a few side by side comparisons of cold brew concentrate vs an ice latte of equal strength and just about everyone that I've done this with prefers the cold brew with milk over the iced latte.

As for brewing over ice which I prefer to call flash brew instead of Japanese iced coffee which is for an entire different conversation. I'm confused as to why I hear so many shop owners and employees say how much better it is and still not offer it? The only thing I can really come up with is they have never been taught or figured out how to make it in a quantity that makes it possible to serve customers. Making it in smaller amounts is easier than larger batches. I've found that you need much larger ice to get great results with a batch of flash brew. Most cafes do not have access to a proper size ice cube and the melts to quickly to preserve the amazing flavors.

I'm excited to be serving flash brew for our ice coffee and we will serve cold brew concentrate in place of ice lattes when PublicUs opens in late August.

Re: Why Is Cold Brew So Popular?!?!

PostPosted: Tue Jul 15, 2014 7:56 pm
by Peter G
Cole, I think it's a great solution to have both types of cold coffee available; cold brew for heavy, syrupy applications (particularly with dairy) and Japanese-style for refreshing, brilliant, crisp iced coffees.

Myself, I've had good luck with large batches of Japanese-style using Luxus servers (keeps it icy!) and half-batch settings with extended extraction times. Interesting that you've faced challenges with that. In a related note, I'm passionate enough about ice that I couldn't imagine running a service without a kold-draft machine. But then I'd also want a flaker. I just love ice, man.

Re: Why Is Cold Brew So Popular?!?!

PostPosted: Tue Jul 15, 2014 7:58 pm
by Peter G
Oh and Cole, as for your "whole other discussion" about the name Japanese Iced Coffee, I've started another thread.

Re: Why Is Cold Brew So Popular?!?!

PostPosted: Wed Jul 16, 2014 3:00 am
by colecoffee
Peter I've personally had plenty of success with making larger batches with a fetco for ice coffee. I think that many others have had a struggle with it or they would be doing is what I meant. Instead they are doing cold brew because they know it and it's easy.

Re: Why Is Cold Brew So Popular?!?!

PostPosted: Wed Jul 16, 2014 3:38 am
by scottlucey
Peter,
I'm interested to hear about your extended brew time. Fetco? Care to share more?
We're doing gallon batches via Fetco, half batch brew into a pitcher with the remaining ice. I haven't played around with extending the brew, I'm interested to hear more about that...

Re: Why Is Cold Brew So Popular?!?!

PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2014 11:36 am
by Trevor Gruehn
Hi All,

First time poster, long time reader. It's 95F and humid in Wisconsin, so it thought this would be an appropriate time to chime in on the discussion.

I can relate to the cold brew frustrations everyone is sharing. The method has a way of obscuring a coffee's identity and exchanging it for body and nutty/chocolatey/generic coffee flavors. Acidity goes out the window.

I didn't really understand the draw of cold brew until I tried drinking it the way I see most people enjoying it --with cream and simple syrup. It's delicious! Kind of like melted coffee ice cream! For me, approaching cold brew as an ingredient instead of a standalone beverage has helped it make more sense to me.

Coming to this understanding was only partly satisfying. While I do enjoy drinking melted ice cream sometimes, a lot of the time I'd prefer to just drink black iced coffee that tastes a little more complex.

It seems like a recipe that involves hot water at some point is key to retaining acidity and allowing a coffee to hold onto the characteristics that make it unique. I enjoy "Japanese Iced Coffee" almost everyday during the summer, and I've also had a lot of success with hybrid cold brew recipes aka hot bloom cold brew.

Has anyone else played around with this?

By hot bloom cold brew, I mean any sort of extended cold brew method that begins by blooming the coffee with hot water and then quickly chilling it with ice water.

In my head, I have the 3 iced coffee brewing methods on a spectrum-- cold brew is at one end with tons of body, little sparkle, and nutty/chocolatey sweetness. At the other end is Japanese iced coffee, which is all about acidity, crispness, and fruit sweetness. Hot bloom cold brew is in the middle because of its relative balance of bass and treble. It's something that satisfies the black coffee drinker in me but it also still works with cream (better than I think Japanese iced coffee does).

I'm writing about iced coffee on Kickapoo's blog this week. Today's post is about hot bloom cold brew and includes a recipe if anyone is interested in seeing it.

http://news.kickapoocoffee.com/

In the last shop I managed we offered hot bloom cold brew as well as Japanese iced coffee. No traditional cold brew.

Re: Why Is Cold Brew So Popular?!?!

PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2014 12:40 pm
by scottlucey
I've discussed the theory of the hot bloom cold brew technique with fellow baristas but haven't yet been moved enough to try it myself.
I WILL do this! Results to follow...

Re: Why Is Cold Brew So Popular?!?!

PostPosted: Mon Jul 28, 2014 10:50 am
by MeanJoeBean
I hope this thread isn't dead.

Down here in FL, we have been messing with Toddy, Cold Brew, and "Japanese" Iced Coffee for a while.

Right now we're running a couple of versions of Toddy through a 6 tap beer system using nitrogen 5 gallon soda kegs. 2 of those taps are Guinness-style nitro taps, so the cold brew that comes out of those exhibits a creamy body characteristic not unlike, you guessed it, Guinness. The other taps are normal and we also have an undiluted version (we call it concentrate) that we sell. Using a 2 parts water 1 part coffee before we keg and nitrogenate, it typically rests for 24 hours after that. We also hot bloom for the Toddy method.

For the Japanese Iced Coffee we use a Curtis Gold Cup brewer with an Iced Coffee parameter that we have programmed brewed over ice. Sure, it's a bit more down & dirty and less theatrical, but it gets the job done.

Oh yeah, we found that the hot bloom for the Toddy method to exhibit more acidity/sweetness, even after dilution.

-Joe Davis

Re: Why Is Cold Brew So Popular?!?!

PostPosted: Mon Jul 28, 2014 11:08 am
by scottlucey
Joe, sounds like you guys have a pretty sweet setup!
I'm curious, what's your best seller?

Re: Why Is Cold Brew So Popular?!?!

PostPosted: Tue Jul 29, 2014 5:33 am
by MeanJoeBean
Scott,

We're doing a 64oz growler program, which we usually fill with the French Roast. That is the best seller, but by the cup it is the Nitro tapped Cold Brews (one is French Roast, the other is a rotating flavor that the employees pick).

I'm also looking into how shelf stable the growlers are. With the Toddy method you're typically looking at two weeks before it turns, but with the added Nitrogen element I'm wondering if it's closer to 3-4 weeks now.

-Joe Davis

Re: Why Is Cold Brew So Popular?!?!

PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2015 2:46 pm
by jonathonsciola
Great to have coffeed.com back, and open.

Just a quick note to say that Melbourne's impressive espresso culture is really opening up to filter. Mainstream cafes are focused to provide "cold brew" and other filter coffees to an increasingly developed societal palate. The symptom of that is that there are very many varied, and some poor qualities of filter coffee. Cafes are steeping espresso grinds in buckets of water and sieving. Some are reluctant to prepare cold drip beforehand and are refrigerating espresso. The better cafes have moccomasters and Fetco's and prepare a balanced specialty coffee. I find batch brew prepared well, and refrigerated is the most refreshing and consistently repeatable recipe for extraction targeted cold brew.

Thanks again for opening up coffeed

-- Jonathon.
Melbourne Australia