New! NCA Workshop for Coffee Professionals:
The Business & Safety of Cold Brew | Nov. 6 | Sponsored by: Toddy, LLC
What is cold brew coffee?
“At its core, cold brew is a brewing method, not a serving method,” explains Mark Corey, Ph.D., NCA Director of Scientific & Government affairs.
Dr. Corey led a team of specialized experts to develop the NCA Cold Brew Toolkit, now available to the entire coffee industry. (Read more background about the report and related food safety considerations.)
The Toolkit offers science-based technical guidance and recommended best practices – visit the NCA website for more details.
While working on the report, we received a lot of questions – from consumers and companies alike – about the beverage market’s hottest trend. Here are answers to common questions about what “cold brew coffee” really means:
The following Cold Brew FAQs are based on the NCA Cold Brew Toolkit
Is all iced or cold coffee considered “cold brew”?
No. Coffee brewed with hot water extraction methods, whether served hot or cold, is not cold brew. Cold brew is not simply a marketing term. It does not include coffee that was extracted with hot water and then chilled prior to serving. Instead, it refers to coffee extracted at ambient or cooler temperatures.
The resulting product can then be chilled or served over ice.
Is all cold brew coffee served as a cold beverage?
No. Cold brew refers to a brewing method, not a serving method. It can even be served warm: Historically in the US, concentrated cold brew coffee was diluted with boiling water and served primarily as a hot beverage (this was before iced coffee became popular). Cold brew is also an ingredient in many recipes.
How does cold brew extraction work?
Cold brewing extracts at a cooler temperature and generally for a longer time than conventional hot water extractions. This combination of lower temperature and longer contact time may produce a unique sensory and quality profile.
What are the sensory and flavor characteristics that result from the cold brew brewing method?
Flavor profiles of cold brew may vary significantly from coffees brewed at higher temperatures. The same beans brewed by cold or hot methods can taste the same or drastically different when evaluated side-by-side. Typical cold brew traits include: less bitterness, smoother taste, more delicate flavors.
Bonus! From the Toddy FAQ:
How should I grind my coffee beans for cold brew coffee?
Use the coarsest grind setting for best results. If you purchase beans from a coffee shop, ask your barista to grind for French press.
Many home grinders have no grind settings – grind your beans 75% of the time recommended for hot brew systems. Grinders are available at your favorite gourmet coffee, kitchen shop or department store, or online. The important thing is the grind, not the grinder.
Related Reading & Resources: Cold Brew
The Business & Safety of Cold Brew | NCA Workshop, Nov. 6
NCA Webinar: The Business of Cold Brew and Food Safety | NCA member login required
How to Make Cold Brew Coffee at Home | National Coffee Blog
Share your cold brew questions or resources in the comments below!
Compiled by Kyra Auffermann, NCA