Hot weather requires cold drinks. In this installment of our wholesale newsletter, we’re breaking down ways that we like to prepare coffee cold without sacrificing the quality of the finished product. As always, if you have questions please don’t hesitate to reach out.
While we normally advocate for using any bean with any brewing method, cold coffee may require a bit more consideration.
Cold brew tends to round out the edges of a coffee and makes for a smooth, low-acidity experience. On the flip side, one of the biggest criticisms of cold brew is that mild, subtle coffees don’t shine through. Maybe consider using a coffee that is more assertive so that those distinctive characteristics really come out. Go big with the chocolatey, nutty coffees; you’ll probably want to avoid any coffees that are particularly subtle, though.
One of the big benefits of iced coffee is how much it highlights those brighter acidic notes. Whereas cold brew does well with the chocolatey side of the spectrum, iced coffee is particularly well suited for those fruit bomb naturals. Those juicy vibrant notes really shine through in a way that really helps beat the summer heat!
Training and Educational Tips
Cold coffee is all the rage. Your customers clearly want it, but how should you brew it? Today we will compare 3 styles of cold filter coffee: Toddy-style cold brew, Kyoto cold brew, and Flash Brewed Iced Coffee.
Toddy-style cold brew has been a staple of modern coffee shops for many years. It is extremely simple to prepare, usually requiring an inexpensive immersion brewer (typically a large plastic bucket with a removable filter). To brew with this style brewer requires just ground coffee, water, and time. Our favorite recipe is 5lbs of coarsely ground coffee + 5 gallons of cool water, steeping for 24 hours (at room temperature). This makes a double-strength concentrate that can be diluted with equal parts filtered water or to taste. This method produces a lot of coffee in one batch, enough for small to medium volume shops in most cases, and it is relatively hands-off. It also produces a brew that leans toward more chocolaty notes and a smooth, mellow taste with a velvety mouthfeel. You can choose to serve this as is or keg it to offer an easier service option. The concentrate also makes a great substitute for espresso in iced lattes and frozen blended drinks, and it holds the longest at two weeks in the fridge.
Kyoto cold brew (named after the city in Japan) is one of the newer methods that has exploded in popularity lately. This is due in part to the unique way the coffee is brewed through a tower of hand-blown glass at a rate of one drip for every 1-2 seconds (8-12 hours for the total brew). The coffee can then be refrigerated and used within 1 week. The other reason Kyoto is so popular is the taste! Kyoto cold brew is often described as boozy, refreshing, and lively. These brews work especially well with natural process coffees (often from Africa) as they highlight fruity and floral notes especially well. The Kyoto tower also looks extremely attractive on your counter -- customers will ask about it! Be sure to brew ahead or purchase multiple units as the output is much lower on this brew method as compared to Toddy. Many shops that offer Kyoto also offer one of the other options to ensure they never run out of cold coffee.
Flash Brew is unlike the other two options in that it uses hot water -- so it’s not a “cold brew” at all. This one is iced coffee. Unlike old-school iced coffee that used to be made from yesterday’s stale leftover coffee (yuck!), flash brew coffee is prepared fresh by brewing directly over ice. This locks in the flavor of the coffee at peak freshness and holds it there. We like to brew ours by using a typical full batch of coffee but brewed on the “half batch” setting as a lot of the water we need will come in the form of ice. You know you have the right ratio if the ice just barely finishes melting (or there are just a few small chips left) by the time the coffee brew cycle is complete. This style of iced coffee is the quickest to make by far since hot water extracts faster than cold water. It should be used within two days of brewing, so brewing fresh daily is best. It also tends to pull more lively acidity and complex flavors out of the coffee. If cold brew is too muted for your taste, flash brew may be the answer.
Whatever style or styles you choose, all of these brew up delicious coffee. For help dialing in your cold coffee game, reach out to our Training & Education department to schedule a class today.
As we slug through these hot summer months, iced espresso beverages become the main attraction as steam wands go unused for hours at a time. Let’s go over some tips that will help you make these beverages taste their best while maximizing workflow efficiency and speed.
It is considered an industry best practice to combine all liquids first and add ice last. This will preserve the flavor of the espresso and prevent any excessive melting of the ice. To make an iced latte, for example, you would start by filling the cup about halfway with cold milk, add the espresso, then top off with ice last. Another option is to fill the cup with ice and use a stainless-steel cocktail shaker to combine all liquids. Once all the ingredients are sufficiently blended you pour it all into the cup of ice.
With iced drinks, you need to make sure flavors and sweeteners blend in properly. Things don’t naturally mix as well at colder temperatures. To ensure proper integration of flavors, always add them before adding ice (remember, liquids first), then stir with a bar spoon. With thicker sauces you will get best results if you stir as you add the flavor, so it has no chance to sink to the bottom and stick to the cup.
Another option for thicker sauces is to use the warmth of the espresso to help melt them down before adding to cold milk, but some stirring will still be necessary. Artificial sweeteners usually mix in well, but sugar does not. Use a simple syrup instead. It’s easy to make in house by using a 1 to 1 ratio of hot water to sugar; use water from your brewer faucet (180-200˚F is best), and stir together until it looks clear.
*Bonus Tip: keep a chart for milk/water fill levels as well as syrup pump amounts for all sizes on the bar where it’s easily accessible for all baristas. This will help reduce any confusion behind the bar and result in better product consistency which will keep your customers very happy.
The standard workflow for steamed hot beverages is:
- Prep first (fill pitcher with milk, grab cup, etc)
- Steam milk and brew espresso simultaneously
- Assemble and serve
But when it comes to iced espresso beverages you can modify the workflow to this for maximum efficiency/speed:
- Grind/tamp first
- Start brewing espresso(s)
- Prep ingredients while espresso is brewing (fill the cup(s) with milk or water, stir in flavors)
- Assemble and serve
We hope these tips help you get to the next level on iced beverage preparation. Sign up for our Drink Construction or Workflow and Efficiency trainings to learn more and get some guided practice. Stay cool out there!