How Cold Brew Coffee Is Becoming the New Iced Coffee

September 29 is National Coffee Day - The 30th Should Be Cold Brew Day

Have you tried cold brew coffee? It's a drink that may become a year-round addiction.

Mintel reports that cold brew coffee sales grew 115% from 2014 to 2015, also saying that "cold brew remains a small part of the overall ready-to-drink (RTD) coffee segment, making up just 0.4 percent of sales in estimated 2015." 

Austin, Texas seems to be a hotbed of cold brew. Chameleon Coffee was an early ready-to-drink (RTD) brand and is seeing impressive sales growth. Likewise, Inc. reports that Kohana cold brew in cans has grown 2,800 percent since 2011 to $5.2 million in 2014 sales.

Now nearly every big coffee player has launched a cold brew alternative to iced coffee, and small batch cold brew coffee makers are popping up nationwide. 

Why Is Cold Brew Coffee So Hot? 

For one thing, a cold brew process extracts less flavor and caffeine than brewing coffee in hot water. So the trick is to multiply the amount of coffee used. While this approach increases the overall cost, the result is a very rich taste experience.

For cafes and coffee roaster, cold brew rounds out sales throughout the day and the summer (or whenever the hot weather is happening, these days).

Beans roasted specifically for cold brewing add another profitable product to a line. Customers can cold brew their coffee at home in addition to, or instead of, buying cold brew at your cafe or in bottles or cans.

Discover 5 Companies Leading the Cold Brew Coffee Trend

Peet's Coffee Cold Brew Baridi Blend

Peet's Coffee Cold Brew Coffee on Ice
Peet's Coffee has a special roast just for cold brew. Peet's Coffee

My first attempt at making cold brew coffee at home came thanks to a sample of Peet's Coffee Baridi Blend coffee beans.

Peet's roasts the beans specifically with cold brewing in mind. The main customer for this line is cafe customers. Rather than selling iced coffee — hot-brewed coffee chilled over ice — Peet's uses a cold brew process in cafes nationwide which has been a huge success.

For a week I steeped freshly ground Baridi Blend at home in a French press, then drank it with a little milk over ice.

Verdict: Addicted! Cold brew coffee is known to have more caffeine than other brewing methods. Given that the Peet's formula calls for 12 tablespoons per 1 3/4 cup water, is there any doubt I'd be addicted?

Plus, I'm a confirmed dark roast lover and Baridi reflects Peet's more dark-roast heritage (without any burnt taste).


High Brew Coffee Ready to Drink Cans

High Brew Cold Brew Coffee
The many flavors of Cold Brew High Brew coffee in cans. Susie Wyshak

High Brew Coffee's palm-sized cans have placed cold brew Fair Trade Certified coffee in several flavors within reach of coffee lovers on the go. (The delightfully skinny form factor is genius, as it is with a similar Illy refrigerated coffee, that is not cold brewed.)

High Brew's flavored coffees like Salted Caramel and Mexican Vanilla — for which they won a Gold Medal as a ready-to-drink (RTD) beverage — clock in at under 100 calories despite a creamy, sweet experience.

It's a little odd to pop open a 8-oz can of cold, slightly sweetened Double Espresso then notice that the ingredients include pectin, milk, sugar and other ingredients. But this thick and sweet  flavor profile surely makes this refrigerated coffee more appealing to more consumers.

Verdict: I could drink High Brew daily, as it really is a smooth, strong and rich coffee experience. Thumbs up for a road trip coffee! More

Blue Bottle New Orleans Iced Coffee - And a Kit for DIY at Home

Blue Bottle cold brew New Orleans coffee in cartons
The founder of Blue Bottle shows off the coffee roaster's cold brew collaboration with Clover Organic milk at the Natural Products Expo. Susie Wyshak

For many years,​ Blue Bottle has served its New Orleans style iced coffee, made with a cold brew process.

Online shoppers can now order coffee beans to make Blue Bottle cold brew at home, in 12 hours (just a tad longer than the wait at some Blue Bottle cafe locations).

Blue Bottle and the Clover Petaluma dairy also launched a lunchbox-sized carton of Blue Bottle New Orleans style coffee, with organic milk and chicory, as a ready-to-drink beverage that has landed in many a startup office (in California anyway).

Verdict: Perfect, as is the Blue Bottle reputation. More

Califia Farms RTD Cold Brew Beverages and Concentrate

Califia Farms line of cold brew and iced coffees and creamers
Califia Farms not only makes almond milks for coffee but ready-to-drink Cold Brew coffee and iced coffee that already has their almond milk in it. Susie Wyshak

Alongside almond milk and other non-dairy, refrigerated milks and creamers sits a new line of RTD Calafia Farms cold brew coffee beverages blended with almond milk. 

The fact that Califia Farms got into the cold brew coffee space, where their wholesale customers play, just shows how profitable this segment is really is.

The company recently launched a Concentrated Cold Brew Coffee made with Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee.

Verdict: Deliciosa. The Califia Farms line of beverages, their packaging and branding are all superlative. More

Starbucks® Cold Brew Coffee

Starbucks cold brew coffee
Starbucks® Cold Brew Blend coffee over ice. Starbucks Coffee

Starbucks developed its Cold Brew Blend coffee using beans from Latin America and Africa. Each cafe grinds coffee daily which they then steep in cool water for 20 hours.

In July 2015, Starbucks rolled out the cold brew at its coffee shops nationwide. Baristas mix the cold coffee concentrate with water and ice, then serve the coffee unsweetened.

Verdict: I have yet to sample it! 

This List is the Tip of the Cold Brew Iceberg

With potentially high margins of ready-to-drink, shelf-stable coffee in cans, expect this category to grow as consumers discover the taste and caffeine that cold brew delivers over ice coffee and tea. Coffee growers and roasters benefit from increased demand for coffee, too. It's a good time to be in coffee and a coffee drinker.