Added: 21st October 2014
This year alone has seen the true take-off and spread of at least 3 major coffee trends; the flat white, the drip-filter and then the Aeropress in quick succession. While they’ve been around for a little while, it seems 2014 is when they became household terms.
Now, British coffee connoisseurs have come up with yet another breakout star: the cold-brew.
Cold-brew is not to be confused with the popular iced-coffee in which chilled or hot espressos are served over ice with syrup and milk. Cold-brew is about coffee grounds that are steeped in water at room temperature for 24 hours to produce a highly concentrated coffee essence and then diluted with water by 50% and served chilled. Cold brews produce a sweeter and less acidic drink which can be enjoyed during summer months.
Cold-brew is being served in many coffee bars in packaged 330 ml bottles and sells for about £3.50 on average. Coffee bar owners say they have been selling the drink for the last four years, but consumption this year has skyrocketed, spurred along by Britain’s rapidly-expanding coffee consumption. Britain’s coffee drinkers are an experimental lot by nature, and keep trying to find new ways to enjoy their coffee in different flavours and formats. Coffee geeks and baristas in particular are fascinated by cold-brew for the nuances in flavour it’s capable of highlighting.
Not everyone is sold on the idea though. Many people are convinced that drinking cold coffee is sheer nonsense. The cold brew method does not use heat and essentially fails to extract the bitter acidic coffee compounds that many coffee drinkers do not (?!) want in their coffee. Cold-brew tend to be juicy and sweet, which might not sit well with the palates of many consumers.
Japan-Origin Of Cold-Brew
Interestingly, it turns out that the British are only discovering now what the Japanese learnt centuries ago. In Japan they call cold-brew ‘‘Kyoto coffee’’ and have consumed it since the 1600s. Cold brew is reputed to have been introduced in Japan by Dutch traders who learned of it from Indonesia. It’s speculated that the coffee would be transported as cold-brew and then reheated shortly before consumption.
Making Your Own Cold Brew
If you are the experimental type, you can make your own cold-brew at your home. Cold-brew in Japan is produced in slow glass-drippers in a process you can replicate at home. Take 120g-180g of coarse-ground coffee and place it in a jug filled with about one litre of water. The coffee should preferably be of a single origin. Fully immerse the coffee in it. Now tightly cover the jug with a cling film and store at room temperature or in your fridge for about 16 hours. Agitate the jug two or three times to move the coffee grounds a little. Take the jug out and double or triple filter the brew to remove the grounds. The caffeine content will be pretty high at this point; so you need to tone it down by diluting to 50%. Chill before serving with ice.
The lack of heat in the production of cold-brew means that it is more of a coffee extract than real coffee in the real sense of the word. So don’t hold your breath expecting it to replace your daily espresso or cappuccino, however it does give another option to how you can drink coffee.
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