The cold coffee market has continued to explode over the last year. RTD cold brew is leading the way with a 25 percent year-on-year increase. 57% of that growth comes from North America alone. Cold brew has been on grocery shelves for a while now, so the new growth is being seen by more innovations and different segmentations within the cold coffee category. Cold-brew alone is no longer the only name in RTD. Snapchill from Elemental Beverages, which we reported on last year, has continued to grow as well as Cometeer coffee which comes in a frozen puck, also continues to grow. We have also seen a lot of growth in the home cold brew category during the pandemic, with some instant coffee contributions coming from the Dalgona TikTok craze. All this points to the fact that people, Millenials specifically, love cold coffee, and it doesn’t have to take 20 hours to make anymore.
Here are the new rules for cold brew essentials.
1. Grinder – this is essential to all coffee making if you genuinely care about the process and leveraging the best result. If you are brewing in a café, it is always best to grind fresh, especially if you are not brewing cold. Fresh grind is imperative if you are brewing hot over ice or going through a rapid cooling system. If you are brewing cold, fresh is better but not essential. The nature of cold brewing allows a lot of latitude when it comes to freshness. As long as the coffee has been sealed, it is acceptable to use pre-ground packs if it gets brewed right after opening. The good news for cold brewing is that it does not require precision grinding. You can quickly get away with a Bunn G3 grind unless you are brewing on an industrial level; then, we open up a whole new category. If you are brewing hot, then more precision will be required. You would do well to use a Mahkonig or Ditting grinder for nuanced coffees. If you are brewing at home, you will be happy to know that Hemro will be releasing a new line of home grinders capable of seriously up your brewing game.
2. Coffee Options – Cold brew was king for a solid ten years when it came to cold coffee. Again, due to the extraction process and lack of acidity in the final product, you could use fewer quality coffees to produce a delicious, sweet cup. With recent innovations in cold brewing and flash chilling, capturing flavor nuance in a cold coffee is possible. These innovations open the door to every great coffee in the world to show off its cold side. On the other hand, the consumer tendency toward sweetness and convenience also opens the door to instant coffee.
3. Hurry Up and Chill Out – Whether you are brewing hot or cold, you eventually need to chill your coffee out. The “chilling” seems to be the space with the most innovation at the moment. Cometeer, which we reported in 2021, completely flash-freezes their coffee to a chilly –321 degrees to capture the flavor. Meanwhile, Snapchill takes a hot brewed coffee from 140 degrees F to 40 degrees F in 60 seconds. These processes allow the volatile aromatics and acidity found in hot coffee to be captured in an iced coffee with remarkable accuracy. Time was always the one major caveat that held cold brew back. The patience, space, and discipline required to brew a bucket of coffee over the course of 12 to 24 hours are too high of a price. The added shelf-life and incredible sales made this zero waste product very attractive to retailers and bottlers. The viability is why everyone has been trying to solve the time issue since it began. Hot brew cooling down brings the brew time back to a palatable four to six minutes; however, it still doesn’t taste like cold brew. If you want a cold brew flavor and texture in a shorter period, you have to try Brew Bomb. Their brewing method in a single stream with room temperature water cuts the brew time down to 2 to 4 hours with a truly cold brew experience.
4. Bulk It Up – as cold brew and iced coffees become more and more popular, the audience grows. That growing audience wants more than just a wake-up call; their breakfast and protein fix blended all-in-one. Functional ingredients have been growing in a big way for years, and cold brew coffee has become the host product to carry them to the next generation. So, don’t think that just having nitro and regular cold brew is enough. Be prepared to stock protein, mushroom, and immunity boosters to be included in the daily order.
Cold-brew is here to stay, and nitro has shown that it is more than just a trend. The only thing that is changing is the audience which has grown so large that cold brew and iced coffees are evolving at an incredible pace.