What is Cold Brew Coffee?
Cold brewed coffee is a unique way of brewing coffee beans involving steeping the beans in cold water for a long period of time. Cold brew has gained lots of popularity and momentum recently. The global cold brew coffee market was valued at about $330 million USD in 2017. In 2021, it was valued at $1.2 billion USD. Cold brew coffee is often characterized as tasting less acidic and more smooth than other methods of brewed coffee. This is because the extraction process doesn’t involve heat and the coffee is steeped rather than brewed.
How It’s Made
Cold brew coffee is made by steeping coffee grounds in room or cool temperature water for anywhere from 12 to 24 hours, then filtering out the grounds. Here at River Blend, we steep our coffee for 24 hours. This is a different extraction process than brewing iced coffee. Conventional iced coffee is made using a standard hot coffee brewing process, then chilling it in the refrigerator, at room temperature or pouring over ice. The ratio of coffee grounds and water can be adjusted before steeping to manipulate the flavor of the cold brew. The long steeping process allows the full flavor profile of the coffee beans to come out, more so than it would in an iced coffee. For River Blend’s Sunshine Cold Brew, we use a three-bean blend of Honduras Comsa, Ethiopia Yirgacheffe and Brazil Mogiana. This blend is fruity, chocolate-y, smooth and is considered a medium roast. We use reverse osmosis water with added minerals to steep the coffee grounds and enhance flavors. Look out for our next blog which will give you step-by-step instructions on how to make River Blend cold brew at home!
The History of Cold Brew
Cold brew coffee has only just become popular in the United States in the past decade, but it’s not a new method of brewing coffee. The cold brewing method dates all the way back to the 1600s. The Japanese would use cold brewing with teas, and the Dutch applied the technique to coffee so that they could carry the beverage on their trading ships. The Japanese took the cold brewing method to the next level with their Kyoto-style cold drip coffee. Instead of steeping the coffee grounds in cold water, the Japanese dropped single beads of water over the grounds. It wasn’t until about the 1990s that American coffee shops began cold brewing. In the 2000s, the art of cold brewing peeked in local cafes, but it wasn’t until 2015 when popular chains like Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts introduced cold brew to their menus.