5 things to avoid while making cold brew coffee

Maira Kanai-Nasir
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October 13, 2023
Station Cold Brew, cold brew coffee, cold brew, cartons for cold brew coffee, paper cartons for cold brew coffee, recyclable cartons for cold brew coffee, custom cartons for cold brew coffee, custom cold brew coffee cartons

The specialty coffee sector thrives on innovation, ingenuity, and creativity – and one beverage that encapsulates all this is cold brew coffee. As a unique brewing method, cold brew helps further the artistry of specialty coffee and makes it more accessible to the public.

Cold brew coffee not only allows roasters and coffee shops to get a share of this thriving market, but presents an opportunity to tap into a wider audience. In turn, this may help build a stronger brand identity and greater product mindshare.

Notably, the cold brew coffee market is expected to reach $2176.05 million by 2027. More so, the consumption rate has increased by 40% in the last five years. Clearly, the rise of cold brew has been meteoric – so much so that some businesses may have omitted to appreciate the additional food safety risks.

To learn more about what to avoid when making cold brew coffee, I spoke with several players in the specialty coffee sector. 

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Why is cold brew coffee so popular?

When compared to a V60, the ease of consumption and its affordability have helped fuel the popularity of cold brew. This has made the beverage incredibly appealing to Millennials and younger generations. For Millennials, coffee is more than a product – it has become an experience

Therefore, they are willing to spend more on it and see it as an affordable luxury. Millennials are also more engaged with coffee, with many appreciating it the way previous generations enjoyed wine and beer. Its brewing method is said to “premiumise” the drinking experience, as it releases more nuanced flavours.

“What coffee drinkers are realising is that hot coffee is good brewed hot, and cold coffee is good brewed cold,” explains Mike Roy, the co-founder of Station Cold Brew. “The flavours and nuances we are able to pull out with cold brewing help to accentuate the varietal and region of the bean when consuming the coffee cold.” 

Mike adds the ability to grab “a well-crafted coffee off of the shelf for later is extremely convenient.” Research shows Millennials value convenience. Grabbing a bottle of cold brew from a fridge or ordering a takeaway nitro cold brew is a quick and convenient way for them to experience specialty coffee. 

Millennials may also be choosing cold brew for environmental reasons. This demographic is more educated and knowledgeable than before and values ethical spending. They also are interested in brands that offer sustainability and eco-friendly products. Cold brew coffee is often packaged in recyclable aluminium cans or glass bottles, which makes it a more environmentally friendly option.  

Andy Vega, Intenzzo Coffee Roasters, Chile, cold brew coffee, what to avoid while making cold brew coffee, cold brew, cold brew coffee packaging, packaging for cold brew

Exploring cold brew in the specialty coffee sector

Like hot coffee, cold brew needs to be prepared with care and attention to detail to create a quality drink. Essentially, it is made by steeping coffee grounds in cold water for an extended period, allowing for a low and slow extraction process.

Preparing it in this way achieves cold brew’s trademark sweetness, low acidity, and smooth mouthfeel. Furthermore, it allows the full variety of the coffee’s flavours to shine through. The unique flavours of cold brew mean consumers are able to get their caffeine fix without having to add extra sugar, making it a healthier option. 

Once the coffee is strained, roasters and coffee shops can serve the cold brew right away, or package it accordingly. Some brands may choose to add sweeteners, milk, or other ingredients. Cold brew coffee is an extremely versatile product, forming the base of cold brew concentrates, as well as nitro cold brew. 

The injection of nitrogen calms the acidity and bitterness associated with the toddy-style cold brew coffee, allowing for a fresher and more even taste across the palate. “Nitro cold brew is popular because it’s the superior way to consume an iced coffee,” Mike explains. 

“The creamy mouth feel of a stout-style beer in a perfectly brewed coffee is a fantastic experience for the consumer, ” he adds. “With concentrates, it’s a consumer’s choice situation: they can create their own beverage exactly how they want it by adding water or milk or using it for cocktails and smoothies.” 

Winston Thomas, three-time South African Barista Champion, Winston Douglas Coffee, Cedar Coffee Roasters, cold brew coffee, what to avoid while making cold brew coffee, cold brew, cold brew coffee packaging, packaging for cold brew

5 key things to avoid when making cold brew coffee

1. Light roasts and over-roasted coffee

Andy Vega is the founder of Intenzzo Coffee Roasters in Chile. His advice on what to avoid when making cold brew coffee begins with choosing the right roast of coffee. “Steer clear of light roasts and over-roasted coffee,” he says. “Balance is essential in cold brew coffee, and a light or over-roasted coffee would not help contribute to the sugars you’re aiming to extract.” 

2. Acidic coffees 

Andy suggests selecting a coffee with a high sugar content as it makes extracting them easier. Therefore, he advises avoiding overly acidic coffees. As a passionate coffee roaster, Andy often creates his own blend with honey and naturally processed coffees, which help him develop sweeter, non-acidic flavours.

3. Any grind size smaller than for French press

Andy also highlights the importance of avoiding inconsistencies within grind size for cold brew coffee. While this may be an extremely important factor for any brew method, Andy recommends “avoiding any grind size smaller than [you would use for] French press. Using a good flat burr grinder can help avoid any inconsistencies.”

4. Brewing temperatures above 5°C (41°F)

According to Andy, cold brew coffee is “more complicated than simply putting coffee in cold water for a long time.” He adds that avoiding room temperatures above 5°C (41°F) is imperative. Andy adds that he usually brews in temperatures between 3°C and 4°C (37.4°F and 39.2°F).

5. Incorrect ratios 

While Winston Thomas, a three-time South African Barista Champion, admits the cold brew trend is yet to sweep South African shores, he does have some sound advice. “There is often a shelf life, so don’t think it will last forever.” 

“My second tip is to plan your recipe based on the preferred drinking method,” adds Winston, who is also the owner of Winston Douglas Coffee and Cedar Coffee Roasters. “For example, if you intend to add a lot of milk and ice, ensure you brew it at a higher concentration. If you’re brewing fruity and floral coffees, you may want to enjoy it black. In this case, you’d brew it with less concentration.” 

At MTPak Coffee, we have an abundance of packaging solutions for your cold brew. From cold brew filling machines that ensure perfect accuracy each time, to infinitely recyclable aluminium cans, paper cartons, flexible coffee pouches, and BPA-free bottles.

Images courtesy of Station Cold Brew, Intenzzo Coffee Roasters, and Winston Thomas.

For more information on cold brew coffee packaging solutions, contact our team

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