Whether you’re at Target or your local farmers market, cold brew coffee is everywhere. But why has it become so popular as of late and what makes it different than your traditional hot cup of joe (aside from the temperature)? We turned to the pros for insight on the trend, which is quickly becoming an American mainstay you”ll be seeing even more of soon.
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If you’ve heard of cold brew, but don’t know much about it, here’s the 411. “The word ‘cold’ refers to the temperature at which the coffee beans are brewed,” says Chris Campbell, CEO and cofounder of Chameleon Cold-Brew, an organic company out of Austin, TX. “Traditional hot coffee is brewed using hot water, often scorching many of the beans and burning their natural flavor and caffeine benefits. Cold brews typically use a process we like to call ‘low and slow’: brewing beans at a low temperature in water for 16 hours. The result is a less-acidic, highly caffeinated coffee that has a smoothness unlike any traditional coffee. We like to say that cold-brewing maximizes smoothness and minimizes bitterness, but not all cold brews are created equal.”
One big benefit that may surprise you: Cold-brewed coffee is known to be easier on the stomach because it’s less bitter, and celebrity nutritionist Paula Simpson says that’s definitely true. “Because cold brews are chemically different (less acidic, less bitter) they do tend to be easier to digest, and gentler on your stomach.”
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An attribute that seems to be heavily debated between the two types is flavor (not added flavors like vanilla or mocha, but the natural flavor of the grounds). “Cold-brew coffees are much more flavorful than hot coffees,” says Campbell. “Our cool-water brew method allows for the beans to hold in more of their flavor than with a hot-water approach, where some beans get too scorched and lose their flavor altogether.” However, Simpson isn’t so convinced. “Hot brew coffees are more full-bodied and flavorful when compared to cold brew. Cold varieties take longer to brew due to the decreased solubility (the ability of the solubles to dissolve out of the grounds and into the water), and because of the lower extraction rate, they are less aromatic and tend to taste flat (and oftentimes sweeter) vs. hot brews.”
In the end, it all comes down to personal preference as we know, but if you’re a regular coffee drinker and you experience stomach issues, try switching to a cold brew blend for a week and see if it makes a difference. You might be surprised!