The cold brew coffee has been gaining popularity recently. It has become a staple in today’s menu. In this article we dive in-depth to know more about the history and rise of cold brew.

Coffee lovers around the world

Are you that person who isn't fully functional until they have their first cup of coffee? Then you are among the more than a billion people all over the world who drink coffee daily. And, if you are in the United States, then the number comes down to around 150 million, who drink over 400 million cups of coffee every day. Data also shows that 85% of those coffee drinkers need their first cup of coffee before they get out of their home.
As a coffee lover, you must have got many warnings that the beverage is not good for your health, but that is not completely true. Consume less than 400mg of coffee (equal to three cups) and you are safe. There have also been studies which show that coffee drinkers tend to gain less weight but do avoid flavored coffee, as that can lead to weight gain.
A recent trend that has the millennial coffee lovers' attention is the cold-brewed coffee or cold brew, a smooth tasting concoction that has 65% less acidity compared to regular coffee.
The cold brew is one of the fastest growing trends in the food and beverage industry. As per a food report, while iced coffee saw 19% growth in the recent years, cold brew demand grew 245% in the same period. It was also one of the top five delivery items during the pandemic.

What is a cold-brewed coffee?

If you are still not sure about the drink that is capturing the millennials' attention, cold brew is a method where coffee grounds are infused with cold water to extract the maximum flavor. Most modern cold brew recipes have ground coffee being steeped in water for 12-15 hours at room temperature and then being served over ice or with water or milk.
But don't confuse cold brew with iced coffee which is made with hot, brewed espresso. Cold brew has a smoother, sweeter and less acidic taste compared to hot coffee, which is its biggest appeal for the millennials, who want a caffeinated option for soda and other artificially flavoured drinks.
Another variation of cold brew that is now becoming popular is the nitro-brewed coffee. This variation is prepared by infusing cold brew with nitrogen and then being stored in kegs. It is served from a tap like a draft and the nitrogen creates a foamy head on the drink, resembling a beer. The drink has a smooth and creamy texture and the nitrogen adds a sweetness to the brew, enhancing its taste.

Cold brew vs cold coffee vs coffee

As we discussed, cold brew is different from an iced coffee and a regular hot coffee. But let us now know a bit more about the difference in these three beverages.
Cold brew v/s regular coffee
Cold brew is steeped in cold water while coffee is brewed in hot water.
Coffee can be made in minutes while cold brew needs to steeped in water for a minimum of 12 hours.
The longer steeping time for cold brew produces a condensed flavor and has 66% less acidity and bitterness compared to coffee which is more bitter due to the acids released by adding hot water.
Cold brew v/s iced coffee
Though cold brew and iced coffee may sound similar, there is a difference in how they are made.
Cold brew is made by combining coffee grounds and cold water and steeping for 12+ hours while the base for iced coffee is hot, brewed espresso. The base is prepared by brewing coffee grounds at double strength. Once the coffee cools down, ice is added to create iced coffee.
When you add ice to the cooled down coffee, it often dilutes the taste while cold brew is more of a coffee concentrate that can be mixed with ice, water or milk, as per the strength and preference of the drinker.
Cold brew v/s nitro cold brew
Nitro cold brew is a variation of the cold brew.
For a nitro cold brew, there is no change in the preparation of the cold brew.
Once the cold brew is ready, it is sealed in an empty dispenser and a nitrous oxide cartridge is used to pressurize the can and then the liquid can be dispensed.

History of cold brew

Coffee was first discovered in Ethiopia by a goatherd when he saw his goats eating the beans and behaving differently. From that point, there have been many variations of the beverage.
The cold brew was first popularized in Japan in 1600s by the mariners as a beverage which can be carried for long journeys. The Kyoto style, which involved adding water drip-by-drip through the ground coffee, is a step in the making of the modern cold brew.
The cold brew was introduced to the Americans in the 1960s by Todd Simpson, who first tasted it while he was travelling in Peru. He also invented Toddy Brewing system for cold brew. But the idea didn't take off then as the public preferred iced coffee until the 1990s.
In 2000s, some coffee shops started introducing cold brew and nitro cold brew on their menu. But the concept gained mainstream popularity when Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts included it in the menu.
Today, 45% of the millennials prefer cold brew over iced coffee, as they can drink it all day long and need minimal equipment to prepare it.

Why is cold brew gaining popularity?

As we saw, the cold brew has been gaining popularity as the millennials' beverage of choice. But why is the gaining popularity in the coffee market?
The first reason is versatility. When you use cold brew as a base, you can get as creative as you want to make different drinks by using a range of flavored syrups. You can also add your dairy preference like almond milk, oat milk among other nut-based milks and regular dairy options.
The second reason is prep time. The cold brew needs to be steeped for a minimum of 12 hours before it can be used. Hence, it has a lot more time to develop, which results in a smoother and less acidic taste.
Unlike iced coffee, which has a a watered down and sometimes bitter flavor, cold brew is strong and naturally sweet, hence reducing the need to add extra sugar or artificial flavoring.
Cold brew is brewed at room temperature, which also has many benefits. The brew is less acidic and has a smooth and mellow flavor, as compared to other coffee items. The preparation of cold brew also generates less waste, as the brew is a concentrate prepared in a large amount in advance, which can last for a week if refrigerated properly. The concentrate can be diluted on demand to prepare a perfect drink.
Nowadays, coffee is not just a drink, it has become an experience to be savored. Coffee drinkers are willing to spend more and are also more engaged with it. Cold brew also affords them convenience, as one can take a bottle of prepped cold brew from the refrigerator or a can grab a tin or can on their way.

Future of cold brew coffee

The cold brew global market was valued at almost US$ 340 million in 2018 and is expected to have a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25.1% till 2025.
Coffee analysts predict that there will be no slowing down in the growth of the cold brew market any time soon. The easy brewing process, stability and outstanding flavor will ensure that the trend is going to stick around.
As per a report by a financial website, the cold brew market is expected to grow at 20.3% from 2021 to 2026. The United States market is expected to reach $ 654.91 million by 2027 with a 14.01% CAGR.
The increase in consumption of the cold brew is also encouraging players to come up with innovative flavors to gain more consumers. The increase in sales in developing economies and brands focusing on growing their presence online are some of the reasons for the growth in demand for the beverage.
Consumers are also better informed about the coffee and various benefits of the beverage. They are also willing to spend more on gaining new experiences. As said earlier, coffee consumption is now an experience and it is closely linked to lifestyle and social status. The willing to experiment and increase in awareness has led to growing demand and robust sales of the cold brew, which is likely to continue.

How you can make a cold brew

After reading about the cold brew, are you now interested in making a cup for yourself? We got you, as here is a step-by-step guide to brew yourself a nice cuppa cold brew-
Choose the coffee beans you like the better the quality, the better the experience.
Ground the beans coarsely as fine ground beans can lead to over-infused coffee and make the cold brew gritty and muddy.
Add water to the coffee beans in the ratio of four cups of water for one cup of ground beans. A tip- Use filtered or spring water as it will give your cold brew a cleaner, sweeter flavor.
You can adjust the coffee-water ratio as per how concentrated you want your brew to be.
Let the brew steep for a minimum of 12 hours, as this lets the flavor be extracted properly and leave behind all compounds that make the taste bitter. If you strain the brew too early, you will get a weaker drink. Over-steeping can increase the bitterness of the coffee.
Strain the mixture after steeping it and you have the coffee concentrate.
You can add ice, water or milk to the concentrate in the quantity you desire and your cold brew is ready.

And finally…

Once you taste a cold brew, you will realize that it is one of the most flavorful, and richest beverages you can have. It is also easy to make and if you don't want to make your own cold brew, it is also easy to buy. We hope this article has given you a better idea about cold brew and made you want to try a cup yourself.