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NCA Cold Brew Toolkit

The NCA Guide to Cold Brew

New resources & FAQ to help your business navigate the hottest trend in coffee.

Download the NCA Cold Brew Toolkit

The NCA Cold Brew Coffee Toolkit is an NCA member exclusive. Check to see if your organization is a member or learn more about joining the NCA!

NCA Cold Brew FAQ

NCA Cold Brew Toolkit: Response to Industry Feedback (Member log-in required)

☕  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 – sales jumped 580% between 2011 and 2016

The NCA Cold Brew Toolkit

Cold brew isn't new - but it's seeing rapid growth in mainstream US coffee markets. Within the category, many different types and formats of products have emerged, from specialty coffee shop preparations to ready-to-drink (RTD) beverages.

This sudden popularity means that there’s a greater need than ever before for resources that can help businesses (and consumers) 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 expectations for cold brew

To address this need for resources, in 2017 the NCA Scientific Advisory Group convened a specialized team of experts to review the data and create a science-based resource for the coffee community.

After an open comment period, the final report is now available as a resource for the entire industry - from the largest manufacturer to the smallest mom-and-pop coffee shop.


Cold Brew Resources

The NCA Cold Brew Toolkit* offers technical guidance and recommended best practices, including:

  • A generalized product description
  • Food safety recommendations
  • Shelf-life, storage, and handling testing
  • Definitions of coffee preparation methods
  • Glossary of key terms
  • Desision tree for navigating (sometimes confusing) food safety considerations

The guidance is intended to be general, in order to encourage future innovation and adapt to specific business needs.

Download the NCA Cold Brew Toolkit

*The NCA Cold Brew Coffee Toolkit is an NCA member exclusive. Check to see if your organization is a member or learn more about joining the NCA!

Cold Brew FAQs

NCA Cold Brew FAQ

See the NCA Cold Brew Infographic

At its core, cold brew is a brewing method, not a serving method.

Here are answers to common questions about what “cold brew coffee” really means,  based on the NCA Cold Brew Toolkit.

Is all iced or cold coffee considered “cold brew”?

No. Coffee brewed with hot water extraction methods, whether served hot or cold, is not cold brew. Cold brew is not simply a marketing term. It does not include coffee that was extracted with hot water and then chilled prior to serving. Instead, it refers to coffee extracted at ambient or cooler temperatures.

The resulting product can then be chilled or served over ice.

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 extraction work?

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.

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, more delicate flavors. 



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