From big chains like Peet’s and Starbucks to smaller regional players like D.C.’s Dolcezza, coffee makers are helping customers cool off with cold brew iced coffee this summer. Although cold brew coffee isn’t a new concept, it’s a market trend that is getting a lot of attention and gaining in popularity — and it seems to be a trend that could stick.
Cold brew coffee is different from traditional iced coffee in that it is made with cool water, rather than by brewing hot coffee and pouring it over ice to cool it off, and making cold brew coffee is a much more labor-intensive process. In fact, Tech Times reported that it took Starbucks two years to come up with a satisfactory process for making the cold brew coffee that the chain will start serving at all of its locations in North America.
For Brett Holmes, a partner of cold brew coffee maker Strother’s Brewed Cold, the new-found cold brew coffee craze has been a long time coming. Strother’s has been working with cold brew coffee for decades, and according to Holmes, the market has been “long overdue” for cold brew coffee products.
“Cold brewed coffee creates a flavor and taste that mainstream consumers are only now starting to understand, appreciate and embrace — whether served steaming hot or iced cold. And people love it,” he said.
Strother’s produces Coffee Juice, a ready-to-drink beverage that infuses cold brew coffee, roasted chicory root and juiced blueberries. And the company will unveil Coffee Juice X later this year, a bottled triple-strength cold brewed coffee extract that is made with a 50-year-old family recipe.
“We’re…confident that anyone who loves freshly made cold brewed coffee, served straight up or diluted with water or milk, will absolutely love this stuff,” Holmes said of Coffee Juice X.
Holmes’ instincts appear to be spot-on, with more than 40% of American adults consuming coffee on any given day, according to a recent report from Datassential. According to the report, brewed coffee is the most-consumed beverage after tap water, with specialty and iced coffees continuing to gain in popularity.
Cold brew coffee, in particular, is rapidly making its way onto more menus, the report found, with other iced coffees varieties like Thai iced coffee and green coffee following closely behind.
“Iced coffee, which is not as widely offered as hot brewed coffee, is also a varied category that can offer operators check-boosting opportunities,” the report said.
A big part of the appeal of cold brew coffee is the taste, according to the Tech Times piece. While traditional iced coffees often have a bitter flavor profile, cold brew coffee is smooth with a chocolate flavor.
“Iced coffee and espresso beverages have a stronger, roastier flavor with a bit of nuttiness that comes from brewing with hot water. Our Cold Brew is smooth and rich, it’s very refreshing with chocolate and light citrus notes,” Starbucks Research and Development team’s Michelle Sundquist said.
And Starbucks is not the only company taking advantage of the cold brew coffee trend. Imbibe magazine picked the 13 best cold brew coffee offerings for the summer, and the list included players from subscription service Bear State’s single-origin cold brew, which is made through a 24-hour steeping process, to bottles of Secret Squirrel’s ready-to-drink or concentrated cold brew coffee offerings, which lend themselves well to coffee cocktails and allow consumers to dilute the beverages to their personal tastes.
Strother’s will continue innovating and capitalizing on the cold brew coffee trend, Holmes said, and the company is keeping an eye on other trends in the coffee segment, including bottled cold brewed coffee extract, nitrogen-infused cold brew coffee, hop-infused cold brew coffee and serving cold brew coffee hot.
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