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The rise of the cold brew

As we've mentioned in several of our blog posts recently, cold brew coffee is becoming an increasingly popular concept among roasters and consumers alike.

In fact, DR Wakefield's coffee catalyst Henry Clifford dubbed 2014 "the summer of the cold brew", showing just how popular this type of drink has become.

For those unfamiliar to the cold brew, or wanting to make sure they are doing it right, we've put together this brief guide to exactly what this type of coffee entails and how it should be served.

How does it differ from iced coffee?

The iced variety is made by traditional hot coffee being brewed in the usual way, before being poured over ice.

However, cold brew is all about the time involved in the preparation process, rather than the temperature, therefore producing a unique taste.

Why has cold coffee become so popular?

Dunkin' Donuts carried out a study to find out exactly what it was that was attracting consumers to cold coffee, discovering that 42 per cent felt it gave them more energy to get through the day and 19 per cent drank it to cool down.

In addition, 21 per cent liked being able to get their caffeine hit faster than if they were drinking hot coffee, while 18 per cent simply enjoyed the novelty of being able to drink a traditionally warm beverage through a straw.

The history behind the cold brew

So where exactly does the cold brew come from?

This coffee preparation method is sometimes referred to as Toddy brewing too, as one of the most well-known stories surrounding its origins features Todd 'Toddy' Simpson, who reportedly tasted the drink on his Peruvian travels in 1964 and brought the process back with him to the US.

Yet the basic principle of the cold brew is that when coffee beans are placed in water of any temperature, they will dissolve and infuse the liquid with their flavour, thereby creating a beverage.

The cold brew preparation process

While different roasters will have varying opinions on how best to create the perfect cold brew coffee, all centre around a few key steps.

To begin with, a damp filter should be inserted into the bottom of a brewing vessel, before one cup of water and around six ounces of ground coffee beans are added to the container.

Then, three more cups of water should be poured – in a circular motion – over the vessel's contents. Another six ounces of ground coffee should then be added.

After a five-minute wait, a final three cups of water should be poured into the mix, but it is important to remember that the brew should not be stirred, as this can clog the filter.

It is OK to press down the ground beans with the back of a spoon though, to ensure they are all covered by the water.

Next is arguably the most important step in the cold brew preparation process, as the mixture needs to be left to soak for between 12 and 18 hours. This allows a strong, rich, smooth flavour to be produced.

Depending on the amount of coffee needed, these quantities can be adjusted accordingly.

Serving suggestions

Of course, cold brew coffee can be consumed as it is, with no additions, in a similar way to one would enjoy an espresso.

However, with winter on its way, a shot of something stronger may be welcome, perhaps in the form of a cold brew cocktail.

For example, adding a drop of whisky to a cold brew would create an innovative Irish coffee, while different syrups, creams and milks of varying flavours and temperatures will also produce a range of tastes for customers.