Cold Brew Coffee, what it is and what it is not.

Originally published April 22nd, 2018

Cold brew.. why i hate it.

If you want to get me ranting, just say to me how much you love cold brew. I dare you.

For those of you unfamiliar with what cold brew is, it’s only the latest fad sweeping the coffee drinking nation. It seems like every day there is a coffee shop offering their interpretation of cold brew, or another company offering a bottled version for the grocery store shelves.

So why do I hate it? 

First of all, I’m a third wave coffee consumer, which means I prefer coffees that are prepared from fresh beans, ( ideally 3-14 days old from the roast date), and ground just prior to brewing.

Also as a third-waver, I’m supposed to like the taste of higher end coffees, which, if I use the stereotype, are coffees that have an acidity to them which makes them taste more in the wine/juice spectrum, as opposed to the cocoa spectrum.

So when a third waver pushes a cold brew made with a toddy or slow drip method, here are my issues.

First of all, the taste of cold brew. Because it is an overnight extraction, or at least several hours of extraction, cold brew is then over extracted. In other words, it doesn’t taste fruity or juicy at all, it tastes dull and cocoa-like, like a cheap 1st or 2nd wave coffee.

Secondly, third-wavers often say they hate things like batch brewed filter coffee made with automatic drip brewers like Fetcos and Bunn etc, because they aren’t made fresh for you like a V60 pour-over, or a Chemex

Well.. how is cold brew made? In BIG BATCHES, brewed OVERNIGHT, and it isn’t fresh, and it is kept in your fridge usually in some Tupperware plastic juice jug for sometimes weeks.

So, i’m asking how any third wave consumer or coffee shop can look me in the eye and say they like cold brew. 

If I want cold coffee, I use the Japanese method, where I brew with half the usual amount of water,  i.e.  If my brew ratio is 60 grams of coffee per litre of water, I will instead brew with 500 ml of water, into 500 grams of ice ( which is equal to 500 ml of water).  

So the hot brewed double strength coffee will melt the ice, thus cooling down the drink which will dilute the coffee back to a regular concentration making it iced coffee.

But the 3rd wave purist would argue..  “BUT THAT DOESN”T MAKE IT COLD BREW”…. and I’m saying…. “you’re right.. but it is cold coffee that allows me to stay true to my third wave aesthetic without selling out to some fad that makes your coffee taste like refrigerated McDonalds coffee. Plus, the Japanese method is FRESH, and I don’t have to worry that some guy named Zachariah is sitting in the back of a coffee shop with a funnel, bottling me a bunch of botulism. Re:Death Wish Recall:   

Plus I’m not giving my customer coffee with double, sometimes even quadruple the amount of caffeine, which, if it becomes the selling point of cold brew, means we are getting away from taste and the primary reason to drink coffee, vs medicating.

Also by pushing a drink that is brewed in batches more suited to typical big industry mass bottling, with a taste that represents how average run of the mill cheap coffee tastes, we are opening the door for big corporations like Starbucks, or even Coca Cola and Nestles to take over with their economies of scale.

So.. that’s why I hate cold brew.

Iced Coffee Recipe

60 grams of ground coffee brewed using 500 ml. of water. (use this ratio for up or down scaling the recipe)

Pour the hot brewed coffee over 500 ml. of ice.

Alternatively you can brew with the pour over method directly into the cup of ice. 

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  • Jamie on

    Hi Guylaine,
    Sometimes, in sharing basic taste experiences through blind tastings you can help a business owner and their clients to understand that quality is superior to convenience.

    But, we don’t believe there will be an extra layer of complexity to method because of quality. In other words, quality can be attained with the same basic methods that are used to make average tasting coffee.

    Hope the helps, Jamie

  • Sharon on

    Now I understand why cold brew easy to drink and no coffee taste at all! And yuck! Keep that in the fridge for some weeks?! I wi never drink cold brew again!! I rather have nice shot of espresso with a scoop of vanilla gelato!! Thanks to making me understand!!!

  • Guylaine Gagnon on

    Hi! Thank you for sharing this. As a professional tea sommelier I agree with you. My big dilema is how can I convince my clients restaurant and cafe owners to choose quality and great taste over convenience, and to educate their clientele to appreciate it.


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