So…what is cold brew? Asking for a friend, who might be you.
Is it iced coffee? Is it hot coffee that someone accidentally left in the freezer? Is it secretly not coffee but some other form of java magic that powers you through that 9am status meeting you’re extremely unprepared for?
Well, turns out the “secret” of cold brew is not so secret at all, with roots dating back to the 17th century (which is like 4 centuries before Instagram) and a process that creates that smooth flavor we know and love. Here’s what you need to know:
A Brief History of Cold Brew
Cold brew was developed in the 17th century by Dutch traders as a way to preserve coffee as it sailed from Europe to Asia. That brewing method eventually made it to Japan where it evolved into the Kyoto-drip style of coffee, a slow-drip brewing method where coffee is made by letting water slowly drip over coffee grounds one drop at a time. Isn’t history the best?
How Does La Colombe Make It?
The process of making cold brew has three distinct differences from brewing coffee with heat (as you home brewers know):
- The brewing is done at room temperature. Rather than being made cold (as the name might lead you to believe), we find that the 60° to 80° F temperature range works best for making cold brew.
- The ratio of coffee to water is 2-3 times higher than with hot brewing.
- The brewing time is significantly longer, between 12-24 hours (typically 15 hours for the coffees we brew with).
To make our process more efficient, we use the application of air and water pressure in our brewing process (which we refer to as cold-pressed). The cold-pressed process extracts the deep, complex coffee flavors that La Colombe is known for. In other words, cold-pressed is the best.
Why Does It Taste So Good?
The beauty of cold brew lies in it’s smooth and less acidic flavor. Brewing coffee with lower temperature water extracts fewer oils and acids that add bitterness and bite. We find that lighter roast single-origin coffees are particularly well-suited to cold brewing as the process allows those nice citrus and floral notes to shine without that overpowering acidity.
Also simply put, cold brew is better cold. When you want your coffee ice cold the flavor isn’t diluted, as the ice melts less in room temperature coffee melts than hot coffee.
Why the Strong Caffeine Buzz?
Feeling wired from that morning cold brew? Turns out, the caffeine content for cold brew is about 3 times higher than hot coffee, per volume. This is due to the fact that caffeine is water soluble, so a higher percentage of it is extracted from the coffee during the extended brew time. Also, the ratio of coffee to water is higher than with hot brewing.
So now you know the nitty gritty about cold brew. Drink up and tell your friends everything you learned today.