As the Director of Coffee for An OTG Experience—an award-winning travel restaurant company with more than 200 restaurant and retail locations in ten airports across North America—Chad Freilino knows a thing or two about what trends in the food industry.
With that wealth of knowledge comes the duty to share his craft with others, which is what Freilino is doing today, giving some tips on the wildly popular cold brew that coffee lovers are drinking all over the nation.
As a great alternative to the normal, hot cup that people drink each day, Chad talks about the differences in brew methods and the process it takes to make cold brew, and considering each Caffe Vita café has cold brew on tap, we appreciate his insight.
Walk into any café this summer and, chances are, you will see cold brewed coffee on the menu. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of cold brew yet, it is a delectable and extremely efficient way to get your caffeine buzz on during the hot hot summer months. Cold brew isn’t a new concept, in fact Toddy (the OG company) has been around for over 50 years, so why hasn’t it caught on until now and why is it better than iced coffee?
Time. Time is the key (along with some other essentials you’ll find below) to making cold brew special. In a classic extraction, we steep our coffee in hot water (around 200 degrees F) for about 4 minutes. Heat is the catalyst that speeds up the melting of solubles, a.k.a the good stuff like caffeine that lives inside coffee beans. The longer we steep in hot water, the more we are going to get out of the coffee and at a certain point we reach the perfect steep time where flavor is optimal. The bad news is, we haven’t fully extracted the caffeine from the beans and if we go any further we will start to develop undesirable flavors (bitter, burnt, acidic). This is were cold brew coffee is unique.
With cold brew, we steep coffee in cold water. Take away the heat and we lose our catalyst in the reaction so the timeline gets much longer for brewing. About 16 hours to be precise. At the end of our overnight steep we get a sweet, syrupy coffee concentrate that has about 70% less acidity than any other brewing method out there. And the bonus, ALL of the caffeine is extracted from the beans. Yep, all of it. So, how is that sweet, delicious, super caffeinated, ready to go coffee better than traditional iced coffee? Because iced coffee is brewed hot then poured over ice. What that means is we have less caffeine (because of our short steep time), more acidity and less sweetness (because of heat) and once the ice melts we have watered down coffee to boot. If you don’t believe me, try it at one of our World Bean cafes. You won’t go back.
Here are my recommendations for home cold brewers for all types of budgets:
For the Hipster: The Cold Bruer - $75.
Originally a kick starter project, this mod design is all about minimalism. Made of mostly glass and a little plastic (its blue!) your friends will certainly notice your passion for both design and coffee while you are hosting your next farm to table dinner at your apartment.
For the caffeine-a-holic: The Toddy System – $39.50.
While this system may not be the prettiest, It sure is a workhorse. Made of durable BPA free plastic, you can count on this little 3-legged bucket to deliver over and over.
For those who like countertop bling: The Yama Glass Cold Tower – $235.
Yama glass is a one of a kind hand blown glass company based in Thailand. They have recently created an entire line of analog coffee brewing devices sold exclusively through Espresso Parts. This cold brewer is made of hand blown glass and hand carved wood. Make sure to measure your cabinet height though, this beauty stands 30 inches tall. Everyone will be jealous.
A little note if you get into home brewing: follow the directions that come with your brewer and remember, you are making a concentrate so make sure you dilute with at least 40% water unless you are drinking the cold brew as a 2oz shot. Otherwise you may end up like Chef Billy in DC who lost the ability to speak for couple hours after drinking a glass of cold brew concentrate. Ask him about it if you see him.