Cold brew is changing up the coffee game, from process to pricing, and it’s not slowing down anytime soon, given this summer’s (pretty much official) pass-off from enthusiasts and aficionados to…well, everyone, really.
For a long time, cold brew seemed to only be offered up at smaller coffee shops and cafes, served by men who looked like early 20th Century bare-knuckle brawlers and women dressed like Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women by way of Bikini Kill.
That’s all changed now. This summer, Starbucks rolled out cold brew at 2,800 stores, so even your out-of-touch neighbor’s going to start small talk with, “Have you had this ‘cold brew coffee?’” And they’re going to say it all infuriatingly slow too, like there are periods hiding between each of the three words and they’re trying not to mispronounce what they worry may be a French expression anyway.
Other popular chains, such as Peet’s, took on more of a concentrated effort last year to curb the usual seasonal decline of coffee sales. In the summer, people unsurprisingly don’t order as much hot coffee as they do the rest of the year, and there’s the periodic habit of avoiding iced coffee’s “harsh, bitter note” (a phrase attributed to Peet’s general manager Tyler Ricks).
Made by steeping ground coffee in cold water for 12-24 hours, cold brew often uses more beans than your usual iced coffee, which is just hot coffee cooled down. To make up for it, expect a slightly higher cost. Peet’s, for example, charges $2.45 for a small cold brew and $2 for a small iced coffee.
And while some roasters argue that cold brew doesn’t bring out the flavor of coffee beans as fully as the standard approach, Americans remain all about it. Cold store-bought coffee drinks are up 52 percent from 2009, and the trend could lead to a dramatic increase in U.S. demand for coffee beans relatively soon.
You’ll probably be all about it next summer, if you’re not already. Cold brew’s getting to be like the nerd who gets super hot right after high school. Be ready to throw down next season.