Time to Talk Cold Brew

I’m one of those weirdos who drinks iced coffee in the dead of winter. I’m happy that soon enough it will feel as though spring has actually arrived and I won’t be drinking alone.

Hot brewing, using whichever method you prefer, is the easiest and quickest way to prepare coffee for yourself. But when the plan is to ice the coffee anyway, we realized that hot brewing may not be the best thing to do. Turns out you end up with something really great when you embrace the chill the whole way through.

And here’s where we get to our Cold Brew.DSC04576

The method is simple: steep coarsely ground coffee in cold water for a day, strain and drink. But the difference over a hot brew iced coffee is something you need to taste to believe.

We’ve probably all had coffee that sat on the burner too long, that turns your stomach the second it hits. This nauseating sensation is due largely to quinic acid, the same substance that’s responsible for the bitterness in tonic water. In coffee, quinic acid forms as chlorogenic acids are heated and then allowed to remain hot. So by keeping our coffee cold the whole way through, we severely reduce the amount of this compound that makes it into your cup. In addition to delivering a sour stomach, quinic acid delivers a powerful bitterness which easily masks other flavors that are worth appreciating in coffee.

Like other acids, and I’m talking here about citric acid and malic acid. Citric acid is responsible for that first burst of lemony brightness when you sip something like our Organic Guatemala. Malic acid is named for its presence in apples, and contributes a concentrated semi-sweet fruitiness to the body of the cup which often reminds me of raisins and other dried fruits. And boy, does the apple buttery sweetness sing in our cold brew!

If we were to brew our iced coffee hot, we’d be missing out on that deep, rich flavor and full caffeination. As our cold brew steeps, it can fully extract compounds from the grounds in ways that can’t be matched otherwise. When I hot brewed one coffee in our blend its prevailing flavor was a forward citrus acidity. And another highlighted a raisiny, chocolaty body. So we’re preserving the ‘right’ acids and thus the right flavors, without getting acrid. The flavors harmonize in this blend, and our cold brew’s full flavor doesn’t come from straight-up coffee strength, but from that whole available range of fruity and chocolaty flavors that you can actually taste! Plus, since it’s steeping for a day at a time, we get a chance to pull out every little bit of caffeine from the beans.

We’ll be serving our iced coffee two ways: plain over ice and nitrogen-infused. We’re not carbonating, which would introduce big bubbles and harsh carbonic acid to the mix, but nitrogenating like how you see Guinness treated. The result is super fine bubbles that impart a velvety mouthfeel and a head like on a beer. It’s wonderfully creamy before you even add cream.

So until we open next month, stop in to the cafĂ© at Duke Farms in Hillsborough, NJ or in to BEX Kitchen in Califon, NJ to try out some of Black River Roasters’ Cold Brew. And we can’t wait to see you in May.

See you at the bar,


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