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Cold brew coffee is smooth, less acidic, teeming with glorious caffeine, and available friggin' everywhere. But you may be wondering... how is cold brew made? Will the caffeine mess me up? And how is cold brew different from traditional drip and iced coffee? 

Here's a quick ditty on everything to know about cold brew coffee...   

Cold Brew is a Brewing Method 

"At its core, cold brew is a brewing method, not a serving method," says Director of Scientific & Government Affairs for the National Coffee Association (NCA), Mark Corey.  

Fancy, right? Markie-Mark is right, cold brew is not "iced coffee" or drip coffee that has been cooled.  

Cold brew coffee is distinctly made from roasted and ground coffee beans that are soaked in cool water for at least six hours. Some brands double the steep time for a deeper, velvety flavor, like Marley Cold Brew which is steeped for 12 hours.  

For cold brew, the ratio of grounds-to-water favors the grinds and uses roughly two-times as much coffee compared to drip. Because of the cold water, ground ratio, and steep time, the final beverage is a smooth, powerful coffee concentrate.  

Aka, more beans + cold water + long steep.  

The cold brew method swaps hot water temperature for a longer steep time. Extracting flavor and caffeine from coffee using hot water doesn't take as much time as cold brew, but it also doesn't create as smooth and creamy of a taste.  

Cold Brew coffee won over the world for its creamier palate that brings a more concentrated coffee flavor with a higher PH and less acidity.  

The velvety taste makes cold brew a unique sensory experience and premium craft product.  

Cold Brew is Full-Bodied and Decadent 

It's the heat that makes our diner-style drip coffee so bitter and acidic. Since hot water is not used in making cold brew coffee, the flavor tends to be less acidic and smooth. What exactly does cold brew taste like? Well, coffee, obviously, with a heavy mouth-feel and palate depth that extracts even the most delicate flavors of the coffee bean.  

Arabica beans especially make delicious cold brews, as they tend to have a sweeter and softer flavor than Robusta beans. Arabica's presence of fruit and berry undertones come through in new dimensions with cold brewing.  

Added sugar and creams are often not needed to make cold brew coffee feel rich and sweet- especially if the coffee beans being used are natural, quality products like authentic Jamaican coffee, grown in the lush region on volcanic soil and take as long as 10 months to cultivate from bloom to harvest- twice as long as other countries.  

When cold brew is paired with a little natural flavoring like vanilla or mocha, and mixed with cream, holy hell it's delicious. A slight sweetness makes the richness of cold brew hella indulgent.  

Cold Brew is Premium Coffee 

Cold brew coffee takes time. By not rushing the steeping process, cold brew becomes the full embodiment of coffee, with a decadent taste that makes traditional coffee seem watered-down and harsh. Think of cold brew as coffee that has done 'self-care.' (You do you, brew.)  

Cold brew costs a little extra, but that doesn't stop anyone from guzzling it on the regular. From 2015 to 2017, RTD Cold Brew Coffee grew 460%. Consumers view cold brew coffee as a premium product and are willing to pay more for a cup, can, or concentrate.

cold brew tweet

cold brew tweet 2

Cold Brew is All About Cans & Concentrates 

Cold brew finishes its steeping as a buffed out coffee concentrate. It's too strong to drink on its own (unless you want your brain to explode), and must be watered down.   

Historically in the US, cold brew was invented long before 21st-century 'hipsters', when concentrate was mixed with both cold water in the summer and hot water in winter. One of the biggest misconceptions about cold brew is that it must be iced. FALSE! You can make your cold brew hot.   

cold brew infographic

Long before cold brew hit American soil, the Japanese brewed Kyoto-style coffee in the 1600s- pretty much cold water-brewed concentrated coffee. Earlier still, seafaring Dutch traders made massive amounts of cold brew for long voyages, having to use cold water because wooden ships + open fires = big no-no.  

Cold brew is now sold as a concentrate to be watered down with each use, but most people reach for cans already mixed with water and ready to drink. RTD canned cold brew has the perk of being easy to carry around, quick to find on-the-go, and already blended with exciting flavors like mocha, vanilla, and chai.  

Of the 83% of adults who drink coffee at home, over half of them consume it in the form of bottles or cans. Some natural cold brew coffee brands have managed to turn their fresh cans into shelf-stable cold brews that can remain unrefrigerated for around 18 months. This way, consumers don't dump money down the drain by having to toss unused cold brew.  

Cold Brew Has More Caffeine  

If your first experience drinking cold brew turned you into a hyperdrive machine and you could literally feel your blood rushing through your veins... ditto. Cold brew coffee does have more caffeine than regular drip coffee, because more coffee is used to make cold brew.  

It's confusing because more caffeine is extracted from beans when using hot water. It's the coffee grounds-to-water ratio that lends to cold brew's caffeine superiority- using about 2-2.5X more grounds, hence the rush.  

cold brew caffeine

The buzz of your brew will also depend on brew time, type of coffee, and even the size of the grounds. Overall, about 180 mg of naturally-occurring caffeine is prime for a cold brew coffee. A normal 8 oz cuppa' joe will have between 95-165 mg of caffeine, while instant coffee has a low 63 mg.  

Mayo Clinic says for a healthy adult, roughly 400 mg of caffeine is safe over the course of a day.  

So let the cold brew poureth over! 

Millennials Are Obsessed with Cold Brew 

We're obsessing over cold brew coffee. Yes, you. And, well, me too. Millennials love cold brew for a number of reasons.  

One, we are drawn to premium products that pack more value. 

Two, cold brew is pretty damn good for us. Today's consumer is cognizant of their health and using products that make them feel better about themselves in direct correlation to wellness (mind, body, and spirit). RTD cold brew is a functional beverage low in calories, rich in taste, and derived from clean, naturally-occurring energy.  

Millennials are also preferring cold brew that isn't brimming with sugar and chemicals. Put those cans down. Look for cold brews with pure cane sugar and natural flavoring vs. Stevia and artificial.  

We're smart already, but drinking cold brew may make us even smarter consumers. Caffeine increases blood flow to the brain and boosts cognitive and motor function.  

Cold brew = more caffeine = bigger brain boost.  

Nitro Cold Brew is Different... But Similar 

Nitro cold brew coffee was born in the new age cold brew renaissance and is a type of cold brew prepared without milk or ice. Basically, the cold brew gets blasted with nitrogen gas. The nitro coffee is then stored in a beer keg and served on draft. The idea is that by infusing nitrogen into cold brew, the flavor becomes even sweeter.  

A cup of nitro coffee will have a foamy head and look like a dark pint of Guinness beer.  

Cold Brew Still Has Coffee's Health Benefits 

Cold brew coffee is full of anti-aging antioxidants, can boost weight-loss effects and rev your metabolism. It naturally has fewer calories than others.  

iced coffee meme

But did we mention it does all this AND tastes amazing... 

Taste is Knowledge  

We could talk about cold brew until our caffeine wears off but there's no replacement for trying some. Lucky you, it's sold everywhere- from grocery store chains to bougie cafes and Amazon. Walk out your door, shout "cold brew" from the top of your lungs, and someone will point you in the right direction.  

Or just grab a can here.