WTF Is Cold Brew Coffee, And Is It Actually Any Good For You?

Look. We know our latte’s from our flat whites, and our mocha’s from our caps, but we’re man enough to admit, we have no idea what the actual f cold brew coffee is. We’ve obviously tried to piece it together, but is actually just a cold, well, brew? Because quite frankly… that sounds rank. And don’t we already have iced coffee for that.

When researching the topic, I was lucky enough to discover that there are whole bunch of us who are too afraid to ask at this point in coffee culture – it’s the most searched Google term on the subject. And chances are if you’ve clicked on this article, you’re in the same boat.

Cold brew coffee is becoming increasingly popular for coffee drinkers around the world, especially in the warmer months, with recent research showing the specialty drink is expected to grow 25.1% globally by 2025 . In fact, when Starbucks debuted cold-brew coffee in its stores in 2015, iced drink sales reportedly surged 20 percent. But that still begs the question… what is cold brew and why is it so popular? Here’s a closer look at this relatively new beverage trend with some interesting facts and figures.

The Origins Story

The earliest record of cold-brewing coffee is credited to the Dutch in the 17th century. Sailors preserved coffee concentrate as it would require less space on ships and keep during long voyages overseas. These Dutch sailors then introduced coffee to Japan, who were already cold-brewing tea, and the Kyoto-drip or Japanese-style coffee was born.

In the mid-19th century after the Algerian War, the French created Mazagran, a drink named after the Algerian city, made of sweetened coffee concentrate and mixed with cold water over ice – the first take on the style drunk today. Eventually cold brewing stepped its way into cultures around the world particularly New Orleans, famous for brewing with chicory.

It’s NOT The Same As Iced-Coffee

Pouring hot coffee over ice or using cool water changes the characteristics of coffee vastly and often creates a stale taste of oxidation. In contrast a cold brew coffee is much richer in nature compared to even a well-made iced coffee.

The term ‘cold’ is a bit misleading. Cold brew coffee is when coffee grounds are brewed for an extended period of time, usually 12 to 24 hours, in tepid or room temperature water (not cold water) to form a concentrate that is then diluted with water or milk and served cold. When coffee is brewed this way, it reduces the rate of oxidation significantly – i.e. no stale flavours – and creates less bitterness than hot coffee.

Without hot water cold brew coffee can lose the fruity, bright and aromatic characteristics normally associated with a cup of coffee, however cold brew coffee and the  brands that make it to preorder, like Califia Farms, roast their coffee beans to maintain these flavours.

At the end of the process, you’re left with a rich, sweet concentrate with a smooth creamy texture that goes down with ease.

The Health Benefits

According to Jennifer May, renowned Nutritionist, author and wellness speaker from Sydney City Nutritionist and Food Intolerance Australia, “Cold brewing maintains the antioxidants of the coffee bean. Antioxidants are important during and after alcohol consumption as they help to heal and prevent cellular damage, and they also help prevent disease and illness.” May advises taking drinking your cold brew made with a nut milk, ala the Califia Farms range, “for added antioxidants, nutrients, healthy fats and protein.”

According to other studies, further health benefits of cold brew coffee can include:

  • Lower risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disease

  • Boosted metabolism and mood

  • Easier on the stomach than hot coffee, the lower acidity helping prevent reflux