There's nothing like a hot cup of coffee to stave off those brisk autumn and winter nights or take the chilly edge off of 6 AM. But as weeks go by and the weather gets warmer, coffee-drinkers look forward to replacing their piping-hot cups with ice-cold brews.
Cold-brewed coffee has been gaining more and more popularity over the last few years. The process is also known as 'Toddy brewing', after Todd Simpson, who says that he discovered cold-brewed coffee while traveling through Peru in the 1960s, and that he brought the 'ancient Peruvian process' back to America. Because as it turns out, coffee (like bourbon and most popular musicals) tastes very different on ice. Because the coffee is never actually heated, cold-brewed coffee lacks almost all of the acidity of hot coffee, which sets it apart from hot coffee that has simply cooled down. It's smoother, and many even claim that it's sweeter. This not only makes it more pleasing to the taste, but it offers a solution for the tens of thousands of Americans who report that normal coffee gives them heartburn or is just plain too much to handle.
Most coffee shops so far still cling to the hot coffee tradition. From a business perspective, this makes sense--it's difficult in a high-speed coffee shop to depend on a brew that takes six to ten hours to steep. La Colombe, Stumptown and Seattle's Best all claim die-hard cold brew fans willing to pay a premium for their preferred taste and temperature. However, due to the fact that it doesn't need to be heated up, cold-brew coffee is ideal selling by the bottle. A few small shops have found their niche in doing just that, like Chameleon Cold-Brew from Austin, TX, and Slingshot Coffee Company's seasonal cold brews.
The process itself is surprisingly low-tech, which is often something that hot coffee fans have trouble wrapping their minds around. All it takes is a plastic pitcher, a fabric filter, and a carafe to catch the product when it's finished. That's it. Just a pound of ground beans, nine cups of water, and gravity, and you'll have a strong and delicious concentrate. The strength of the cup of coffee then depends on how much it's diluted, whether it's the recommended 3-to-1 ratio with hot or cold water or a hefty 1-to-1 with some sort of milk. If the weather is truly sweltering, the concentrate can even be added to a milkshake or a refreshing bowl of ice cream!
It may not be edging out hot coffee for quite a while, but cold-brew coffee is on the rise for a very good reason. It's low maintenance, handy, and the concentrate stays fresh for up to a week, not to mention that it's downright delicious. Cold-brew coffee is something every caffeine drinker should try at least once, but look out: Most who try it 'just once' end up saying they're hooked.
Marilyn Smith specializes in covering the latest news and events about the packaging industry, including powder filling machines.