You see it on menus everywhere - but is cold brew essentially a fancy term for iced coffee? No, says Pamela Chng of social enterprise Bettr Barista Coffee Academy. She tells us what the difference is.
1. The brewing method
“Iced coffee is essentially brewing coffee with hot water and then cooling it down, either with ice or with cold milk, water, or an ice bath,” says Pamela. That essentially translates to having your coffee - whether an espresso, latte or cappuccino - on the rocks. Depending on what you’re brewing, it can take 30 seconds to prepare an espresso and three to 15 minutes if you’re making a filter coffee.
Cold brew, on the other hand, is a type of chilled coffee that requires a specific brewing method. “The ground coffee is fully immersed in room-temperature or cooler water for a much longer time - between eight and 24 hours - before extraction,” adds Pamela. In other words, it doesn’t get diluted the way iced coffee does. The type of beans used and the length of time they’re steeped affect the taste of a cold brew. Dark roasted beans and a longer steeping time essentially make a more bitter drink.
2. The taste
Overall, you’ll find that cold brew are less acidic than their iced counterparts. Because no heat is involved in their making, the acids and oils that give coffee its bitter taste didn’t get released. Also, expect more complex flavours from a cold brew. “Cold brew, with its slow extraction, brings out different flavours of the coffee,” says Pamela.
Depending on how sensitive your palate is, it’s actually possible that you might not be able to tell a cold brew and an iced coffee apart, Pamela adds. That’s because if both have been brewed and extracted well, you’re unlikely to be able to taste a marked difference.
At the end of the day, it’s all about your preference. Broken down simply, cold brews are for those who prefer a more full-bodied cup - which means the coffee feels heavier and thicker in the mouth. Cold brews also tend to be less acidic, and generally possess a mellow flavour.
3. The tried and tasted cold brews we like best
Image: Dutch Colony Coffee Co.
Black Cold Brew Coffee: Dutch Colony Coffee Co. The flavours of this brew are non-intimidating, yet still pack a punch. A full-bodied coffee with a pleasant aroma, clean aftertaste and no bitter residue on the tongue. This one’s brewed overnight for some 12 hours.
Outlets are at UE Square, Pasarbella @ The Grandstand, and Frankel Avenue.
Image: Oriole Coffee + Bar
White Cold Brew Coffee: Oriole Coffee + Bar. Oriole’s signature in-house cold-brewed Taisho White is on point with the milk-to-coffee ratio. Smooth, silky and creamy, it’s an easy drink for those new to cold brews.
Try it at Pan Pacific Serviced Suites Orchard and Capitol Piazza.
This story was first published in the August 2017 issue of Her World magazine.