Coffee is an ingrained part of cultures the world over, and for many people that first cup of coffee in the morning is the pick-me-up that allows them to throw off the fug of sleep and go about their business. Aside from the caffeine boost, coffee has a richness and subtlety of flavour that inspires connoisseurs, and the hip bespoke coffee house is a fixture in many cities across the world.
Coffee is so popular that many people can’t do without it, even during the summer months when the weather is too hot for boiling drinks, and this has led to the rise of iced coffees. This beverage is coffee that is brewed normally, but then left to chill and poured over ice. In recent years however, a new technique has been sweeping through the ranks of the coffee cognoscenti: the cold brew.
Cold Brew coffee is, essentially, exactly what it sounds like: whereas traditionally coffee is made with ground beans being brewed in water that is just off boiling temperature, cold brew coffee is made by stewing the coffee grounds in cold or room temperature water. You may be questioning what’s the difference between iced coffee and cold brew coffee: they both produce a chilled cup of coffee, right? In fact, there are distinct differences, all of which are down to the scientific processes behind brewing.
Flavour and Acidity
The flavour and aroma of coffee is due to the soluble compounds within the coffee beans. When the beans are ground and brewed with water, these solubles are extracted from the grounds and into the water. Because the chemical reaction that extracts these solubles is at its most intense with hot water, a normal brewing process gives the resulting coffee an extremely strong flavour and aroma. Furthermore, because of increased oxidation, it increases the levels of acidity within the brew. An iced coffee maybe cold, but it retains the acidity, aroma and flavour intensity of coffee brewed with hot water.
Cold brew coffee, on the other hand, involves the coffee grounds being steeped in cold water. Because of the lower temperature, the chemical reaction that extracts the solubles is far less intense. This means that cold brewing takes much longer: between 12 and 48 hours, as opposed to the few minutes it takes to brew with hot water. It also means that the flavour is milder and smoother, less acrid than hot coffee, and with a significantly decreased acidity level. This makes it particularly suited to people who love coffee but struggle with heartburn or acid reflux.
Ultimately, neither method is superior to the other – they both do different things. The popularity of cold brew does, however, offer a new option for coffee lovers who find the acidity of traditionally brewed coffee difficult, or for those who desire a milder flavour hit. Whether you prefer cold or hot brew coffee depends, in the end, on what you want out of your cup.
Where to get you Cold Brew Fix, bru:
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