Is Cold Brew Heating Up the Bean Scene?

Cold brew coffee is hot, hot, hot. It may also be heating up the demand for coffee beans.
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Cold brew coffee is hot, hot, hot. Local coffee shops and big chains like Peet’s Coffee & Tea and Starbucks are increasingly switching to it from traditional iced coffee. It may also be heating up demand for coffee beans.

Cold brew, said to be smoother and less bitter than regular iced coffee (brewed hot, then cooled), calls for fresh ground coffee beans to steep in cold water for anywhere from 12 to a full 24 hours. But because the cooler temps and relative stillness in the process prevent as much flavor from being extracted from the coffee as regular hot brew, roasters use more (sometimes double) beans per cup.

The shops pass the cost of the additional beans along to their trend-seeking customers, naturally, but the higher caffeine-buzz price tag doesn’t seem to be cooling anyone’s enthusiasm for cold brew. A spokesman for Peet’s told Reuters that since the chain switched from traditional iced coffee to cold brew, in June, sales of cold brew have surged past last year’s sales of iced coffee, exceeding them by about 70 percent.

In fact, Reuters reports, U.S. sales of cold coffee drinks are on the rise overall, and there’s hope that the burgeoning cold brew business will boost demand for coffee beans and counteract the Keurig effect, in which the rise of single-cup brew pods, which prompt people to brew less coffee, diminishes demand.

"If we can make cold a more compelling thing, that will take out a little bit of the sting," Brett Struwe of Caribou Coffee, told Reuters.

It’s unclear if the rhyme was intentional.

Photo courtesy of iStock

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