All you need to know about Cold Brew coffee

What is it? Why do we love it? Why should you try it? With coffee culture on the rise, and with so many variations of the beloved brew now available, it can be hard to keep track of all the options available. ‘What is the difference between an iced coffee, an iced latte and cold…


What is it? Why do we love it? Why should you try it?

With coffee culture on the rise, and with so many variations of the beloved brew now available, it can be hard to keep track of all the options available.

‘What is the difference between an iced coffee, an iced latte and cold brew?’, you may ask. Well you’d be forgiven for getting confused as some countries, states, areas or even one-off coffee shops might be to blame for this one, as they may refer to the same drink by different names. Confusing, we get it.

Let’s assume three things here. Just to keep it simple and same us all a few sanity points.

  1. An iced coffee is like the crazy shake of coffee. You take good old espresso (hopefully fresh but let’s face it, we’d be impressed if you could tell after all the additives) and add it to milk, plonk in a big old scoop of ice cream and top with ridiculous amounts of whipped cream and then dust with chocolate powder.
  2. The iced latte came on to the scene in hipster coffee spots (We’re looking at you, Melbourne) long before it reached us down here on the humble South Coast of NSW. But coffee lovers rejoiced as a cold coffee option became popular that actually retained most of it’s coffee heart! An iced latte allows you to taste your coffee just as much as you would in a warm latte or flat white. General consensus, and the way we do things at The Roastery, is to half fill a glass with ice, add milk and then top with fresh espresso shot/s. As the coffee hits the ice and cold milk it cools and leaves you with a lovely cold coffee that tastes way better than that flat white you nursed for an hour before you throw it down, tell yourself it was supposed to be a cold coffee, insist it still tastes ok and regret your choices. Hot coffee that’s gone cold is NOT good cold coffee.

Like the iced latte, there is also a wonderful thing that exists in all good coffee shops called an iced long black. Like the iced latte, this is a barista approved cold long black that was intentionally made cold for your enjoyment. Simply replace the milk of your choice in an iced latte with cold water and voila, you have an iced long black. Which brings us to number three.

  1. Cold brew differs most significantly from the above as, unlike espresso, this coffee is brewed on cold, or ambient temperature water. It can also be enjoyed with water or milk of your choice like the iced latte, but the big difference is the coffee itself and we will now go into that in more detail.

While espresso used pressure and heat to extract liquid gold in a short space of time (generally less than 40 seconds, depending on your machine, recipe, coffee beans and preferences), cold brew swaps out heat and pressure in favour of more time and a lower coffee to water ratio. As cold brew isn’t as bitter and acidic as espresso, those with more sensitive stomachs may also find that they can enjoy this brew without their digestive system hating them later.

Cold brew can be made in a range of ways, from a simple French press to a snazzy, elaborate cold drip set up that you can pop on your kitchen bench to announce to your friends ‘I know things about good coffee and I make my own cold brew’, in a not so subtle way. We recommend using what you have at home or investing in something simple and practical like the Hario Cold Brew Pot , but we definitely won’t stop you if you want to go all out! At The Roastery we make our cold brew in a more commercial sized Toddy Cold Brew System as we produce around 14L at a time.

Cold brew is generally made a concentrated version which you then cut with water or the milk of your choice before drinking. In this case, cold brew is far more caffeinated that a good old espresso of the same volume, but it won’t taste that way as most people associate coffee strength with the punchy, bitterness and acidity you get in darker coffee. Not that a dark coffee necessarily equals a lot of caffeine, but that is a topic for another time.

As cold brew generally produces a smooth end result with less bitterness and acidity than espresso. This is one of the reasons we love it so much. Like a hot filter coffee, cold brew allows some of the more subtle features and characteristics of a coffee bean come out as flavours and aromas and this is also why we generally choose to make cold brew on single origin coffee beans.

To make cold brew we use coarsely ground coffee beans and ambient temperature water. The coffee grounds are added to a paper filter bag, sealed up and then water is added at a ratio of 1:7 kilos of coffee to litres of water. We then let it all sit for 48 hours before removing the filter bag and moving the cold brew liquid to the fridge. When cutting this concentrate to enjoy a cup, we recommend a 1:4 ratio of cold brew to milk or water but we also won’t stop those caffeine fiends among you from doing as you wish. Good luck to you and if you end up shaking in the corner of the office after going hard at the cold brew then don’t say we didn’t warm you. At home, with a smaller set up, say a 1L jug, you will only need to wait 6-12 hours (overnight) and you can play around with your timing, ratios and coffee beans to find a recipe that you really love.

Personally, I believe that every ‘lover of coffee’ should be open to trying new beans and brew methods to broaden their horizons and become a bona fide coffee connoisseur. Every brew method reveals something different about the bean used and allows you to truly experience coffee in all of it’s beautiful, tasty goodness. I’m also a strong advocate for weather appropriate drinks. To those of you out there who religiously smash down long blacks year-round, even in 40º weather, I salute and applaud you. I am simply not cut out for that kind of commitment. When the weather is cool, I want a nice toasty cut to wrap my hands around and when it’s the middle of a sweltering Aussie summer day I want to enjoy my coffee cold, with ice and on a beach where possible. This is where cold brew becomes my coffee hero and caffeinated beverage of choice.

Hopefully this clears up some cold coffee confusion for you (At least at The Roastery. We can’t be held liable if a nice café in Western Australia doesn’t agree with our definitions on your next trip away), gives you some insight into the world of cold brew, and inspires you to try something new as we head into the warmer months!

Next time you’re at The Roastery make sure to ask about cold brew, maybe try a cup or get some recommendations for staff top bean picks to try cold. The Bearded Brewer coffee nerds are always keen to chat coffee. If you don’t have a grinder at home, then grab some pre ground beans or talk to the staff about grinder recommendations.

If you’re keen on cold brew but you really just can’t be bothered to make it at home, leave it to the professionals and grab yourself some cold brew concentrate, made by The Bearded Brewer Team, in a reusable glass bottle, ready to cut and drink right away!

If you’re effected by lockdown or don’t live in the area and you’re interested in Bearded Brewer Beans, then click here to order coffee online. Beans are available ground or whole and are sent out next business day via Australia Post. Coffee bean subscriptions *insert links* are also available to make sure you never run out of beans at home or in the office ever again!

If you liked this article, then please share with your friends and family. Don’t forget to connect with The Bearded Brewer via socials and reach out with any coffee questions, comments or requests for advice. We love to talk about coffee.

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