| |Join NCA!

The NCA Cold Brew Toolkit

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


☕  About 16% of coffee drinkers reported having had cold brew in the past week in January 2022, according to the NCA National Coffee Drinking Trends report – up from only 8% in 2016.

☕  Cold brew is the third-most popular method of brewing coffee after drip and single-cup systems.

☕  Cold brew is taking off across the country – sales jumped 580% between 2011 and 2016 and is expected to see 26% CAGR growth from 2020 to 2025. 

Cold brew isn't new, but is seeing rapid growth in mainstream U.S. coffee markets. By nature, cold brew coffee is safe when prepared and stored properly. However, there are many preparation methods ranging from nitro keg-dispensed cold brew to airtight ready-to-drink options -- and a murky patchwork of regulations governing their safety.

All these factors mean there’s a greater need than ever before for resources that can help businesses (and consumers) answer questions like: 

  • What is the definition of cold brew?

  • Is cold brew coffee safe?

  • Can cold brew go bad?

  • What food safety precautions are necessary when producing cold brew?

  • What must be done to ensure food safety when brewing, storing, and serving cold brew?

  • What steps are necessary for transportation and determining shelf-life?

  • What are the most common terms and expectations for cold brew products?

Cold Brew Safety Guide for Retailers

NCA's all-new guide for brewing, storing, and serving cold brew safely in a retail environment. Not an NCA Member?

Download a preview copy

Cold Brew Safety Webcast

An overview of the new Cold Brew Safety Guide for Retailers from Mark Corey, PhD., NCA Director of Science & Policy.

Model HACCP Plan

NCA's model Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) plan to help you ensure you're taking the necessary steps to protect your product -- and customers.



Your questions about cold brew -- answered.

Compliance Checklist

Are you ready for a surprise visit from the health inspector?

2018 Cold Brew Toolkit for Industry

NCA's 2018 guide to cold brew safety, geared towards manufacturers.

The 2022 NCA Cold Brew Guide for Retailers is made possible through the support of our cold brew partner




Cold Brew Resources for Your Coffee Business

NCA's Cold Brew Toolkit is a suite of resources to help your coffee business brew, store, and serve cold brew coffee safely, whether you manufacture cold brew products or operate a retail facility like a coffee shop.

The Toolkit offers technical guidance and best practices to keep your customers safe, including:

  • Product descriptions to help you sell accurately
  • Food safety recommendations
  • Shelf-life, storage, and handling testing
  • Preparation for a health inspection
  • Hazard analysis
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Decision tree for navigating (sometimes confusing) food safety considerations

The guidance offered in the resources on this page should be taken only as a guide; No two coffee businesses are alike, and NCA recommends consulting with your own food safety professionals to evaluate the risks and opportunities unique to your business. 

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.

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, and more delicate flavors. 



Thank you to our partner Bunn for their gracious support of the 2022 NCA Cold Brew Safety Guide for Retailers.

BUNN - Gold Partner




Become a Member!