In the weekly Cut Coffee email this week I outlined the introduction of a new Espresso Blend (In Bloom 😘) and the illimanation of our cold brew offering, which begs the question: does cold brew suck?
Yes. Yes, it does.
Alright, I am being hyperbolic but there is a crucial criticism applicable to the majority of cold brew: it lacks the character of origin. I have drank many cups of cold brew over the years and generally they all taste the same. Akin to over-roasting or under-developing, the flavour of terroir is superseded or eliminated. In the case of cold brew, the root cause is extraction.
In “Coffee Constituents”, Adriana Farah writes, “extraction of water-soluble components including chlorogenic acids, caffeine, nicotinic acid, soluble melanoidins, and hydrophilic volatile compounds is greater at higher temperatures”. We use temperature in coffee to ensure we take those compounds from the grounds to put them into the brewed liquid. Cold Brew methods often attempt to overcome this by using increased duration, hence 20 to 24 hour extractions. The problem being: time and temperature are not interchangeable when it comes to coffee’s solubility and volatility. So while you may get a lot of flavour from the longer extraction it is not equivalent profile to a hot brew.
After some tests for the Burdock 416 Loko collaboration, we have landed on making a hot concentrate and cooling it rapidly. You maintain the unique element of origin but with it cooled quickly enough none of the oxidization and broken acids associated with stale coffee. Served over ice, it is the perfect middle ground for refreshments and due regard to the coffee.
I often pontificate about the democracy of taste. We have all been tasting things our whole lives and justly know what we like and do not like. Hence, I can accept someone loving vanilla lattes or Nordic roasts. But I also would argue respect for the farmer. We should all celebrate where coffee is from through the particular and the remarkable elements of origin.
tl;dr: Cold brew tastes generic/boring, so let us set up a hot-cold brew program for you 🙌
(Image from Howard Hawks’ Rio Bravo )