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NCA Cold Brew Toolkit

The NCA Guide to Cold Brew

Industry resources for navigating the hottest trend in coffee.


☕  About 10% of coffee drinkers reported having cold brew daily in 2017, according to the NCA National Coffee Drinking Trends report – up from only 1% in 2015  


Cold brew is taking off across the country – according to market research, sales jumped 580% between 2011 and 2016.

Despite this surge in popularity, cold brew is still new to a lot of coffee drinkers - and companies, too. And while cold brew offers some unique benefits, it also comes with unique risks. Whether you're a large coffee roaster or a local coffee shop, there is still a lot to learn - from common terminology to food safety considerations.

That's why the NCA is developing new guidelines for the coffee industry, to describe what cold brew is and provided key resources. 

Call for Coffee Industry Comment

If you are part of the coffee industry, now is your chance to shape the future of cold brew by reviewing the NCA Cold Brew Toolkit draft and providing feedback by June 1, 2018.  

All members of the coffee community are invited to review the draft Toolkit, and submit any feedback through this form by Friday, June 1, 2018. Please note that we will not be able to respond to all comments individually.

Questions? Contact info@ncausa.org


Review the NCA Cold Brew Toolkit Draft

 Please submit your comments through this form, referencing the relevant line numbers in the draft.



what is cold brew

What Is Cold Brew?

"Cold brew" is a brewing method that does not use any heat. Instead, coarse grounds are exposed to water over a long period of time, often overnight, at “cool” temperatures – typically room temperature or colder. (Learn more about the coffee brewing basics.)

Cold brew can be a more concentrated coffee beverage, so consumers sensitive to caffeine may want to dilute their drink with water or milk. 

Read more: How to Make Cold Brew at Home

NCA Cold Brew Toolkit

The NCA Cold Brew Toolkit

Cold brew has recently experienced rapid growth. Within the category, many different types and formats of products have emerged, ranging from specialty coffee shop preparations, to at-home options, to ready-to-drink (RTD) beverages.

While cold brew itself isn’t new, its newfound popularity means that there’s a greater need than ever before for resources that can help the industry understand: 

  • What constitutes cold brew
  • What food safety precautions are necessary when producing cold brew
  • What steps are necessary for transportation and determining shelf-life
  • What are the common terms and definitions for cold brew

To  address this need for resources, in 2017 the NCA convened a specialized team of experts to create a Cold Brew Toolkit for the entire industry - from the largest manufacturer to the smallest mom-and-pop coffee shop.

This science-based guidance is intended to be general, to allow for future innovation, and so that it can be adapted to individual business needs. 

NCA Cold Brew Toolkit resources include:

  • Technical guidance and best practices
  • A generalized product description
  • Food safety recommendations
  • Shelf-life, storage, and handling testing

Also included are common definitions of coffee preparation methods, a glossary of common terms, and a decision tree for navigating sometimes confusing food safety considerations.

Invitation for Industry Feedback

The draft of the NCA Cold Brew Toolkit is now available for comment and community feedback until Friday, June 1, 2018.

The NCA has set up this form for all feedback on the Toolkit draft (please note that we will not be able to respond to all comments individually). After a review all comments, the NCA will revise the Toolkit as necessary and publish the report as an open industry resource.

Still have questions?  The NCA will offer a webinar and in-person workshop for making, storing, and selling cold brew, where you can get the answers you need, learn more about the science behind the Toolkit, and better understand when you need to call in the food safety expert heavy-hitters. Stay tuned for details TK!



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