If you’ve left your house in the past month odds are you walked past a boatload of people carrying plastic cups filled with cold brew coffee. Maybe you were even one of them.
Cold brew coffee — that is, coffee that is slow extracted in cool water to make a smoother, less bitter beverage — is so hot right now. So it’s no surprise that companies are hungry (thirsty?) to cash in on this trendy drink outside the coffee shop.
There’s ample opportunity. Mintel reported that in 2017 only 7 percent of coffee drinkers made their own cold brew at home. Many people thought it took too long (cold brew requires at least 12 hours of steeping), or that the flavor of the homemade stuff wasn’t up to snuff. But a whole slew of devices and products are trying to reinvent your relationship with cold brew, outside the coffee shop.
Sure, you could keep it low tech and just to steep some coffee grounds overnight in your French Press and call it a day. But for those who want to make their own cold brew faster, fancier, and better than ever, here’s your guide:
Smart homebrewing company PicoBrew has cold brew coffee-brewing capabilities for its Pico Z and Pico C devices ($4.99 for a reusable cold brew filter, $399 to $2,749 for the Pico’s themselves). It significantly speeds up the process so you can have cold brew, dispensed from a Pico mini-keg, in two hours. Plus it looks cool — mini-keg!
PicoBrew isn’t the only home beer brewing company getting into cold coffee. Growlerwerks, previously known for its countertop brewing devices, is in the midst of a successful Kickstarter campaign for its nitro cold brew-making uKeg Nitro ($199 MSRP). Nitro cold brew, which has the creamy, lightly-carbonated texture of Guinness, became a household name once Starbuck’s started selling it. Growlerwerks isn’t alone — other companies like KEG STORM and Royal Brew also have countertop nitro cold brew makers.
One of the hardest parts about making cold brew is having to wait until it’s ready. Cuisinart and Dash both have devices that will let you make a cup in 30 minutes or less. Cuisinart (~$52) uses spin technology to quickly extract the flavors from coffee grounds. Dash ($99.99), which promises to make a cup of cold brew in only 5 minutes, uses something called “cold boil technology” for its extraction, with mixed reviews.
If mess is your main cold brew complaint, quite a few companies are making pre-filled cold brew bags (sort of like giant tea bags, but with ground coffee) which you can steep and then toss with no cleanup. Cold brew bags may be relatively low-tech, but they’re still a valuable upgrade to your home brewing process. Because is there anything worse than trying to scrape old coffee grounds out of a French Press? They’re also a steal — bags go for as low as $5.99, which will brew you 7 cups of cold coffee.
If cold brew’s smooth, inoffensive flavor just isn’t nuanced enough for you, check out what Elemental Beverage Company is brewing. They use a cooling coil technology to “snapchill” freshly-brewed coffee, which they claim makes a better, fuller-flavored cup of joe than the cold brew method. Elemental will eleventually sell their Snapchiller machine to cafés, but if you want a taste now you can order some cans of snapchilled coffee online ($4.99 each). If you’re feeling really fancy, you can spring for their $200 bottle of snapchilled artisanal coffee (yes, I’ve tried it and it is worth it).
Summer is just starting, so it’s not too late to invest and up your cold brew game all season. Me though, I’m a bit of a traditionalist. I think I’ll stick to using my old-school French Press.