Cold Brew Frequently Asked Questions
Answers to some of the most common questions about cold brew coffee.
What is cold brew? Is all iced or cold coffee considered “cold brew”?
Cold brew refers to coffee extracted at ambient or cooler temperatures, which is typically chilled or served over ice. The description of cold brew is intentionally not overly-prescriptive to allow for future innovation in the category.
Additionally, cold brew is not simply a marketing term, and not all cold coffee is cold brew. Coffee brewed with hot water extraction methods and then chilled prior to serving is not cold brew.
Is all cold brew coffee served as a cold beverage?
No. Cold brew refers to a brewing method, not a serving method. It can even be served warm: Historically in the US, concentrated cold brew coffee was diluted with boiling water and served primarily as a hot beverage (this was before iced coffee became popular). Cold brew is also an ingredient in many recipes.
How does cold brew work? How do you make cold brew?
Cold brewing extracts at a cooler temperature and generally for a longer time than conventional hot water extractions. This combination of lower temperature and longer contact time may produce a unique sensory and quality profile.
There are multiple ways to prepare cold brew. One of the easiest and most popular methods of brewing cold brew coffee involves steeping ground coffee in water overnight at room temperature. Find a recipe on our blog!
Is cold brew safe?
Cold brew is perfectly safe when prepared, stored, and served properly. However, food safety and complying with local, state, and federal health regulations is not an area suited to guesswork. It is the responsibility of any food service establishment to understand the risks associated with mishandled food and the steps necessary to mitigate those risks.
The NCA has multiple resources designed to help retailers be knowledgeable, prepared, and confident regarding food safety and compliance requirements for their dispensed cold brew products.
What are the sensory and flavor characteristics that result from the cold brew brewing method?
Flavor profiles of cold brew may vary significantly from coffees brewed at higher temperatures. The same beans brewed by cold or hot methods can taste the same or drastically different when evaluated side-by-side. Typical cold brew traits include less bitterness, smoother taste, and more delicate flavors.