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Hot Morning? Cold Cuppa: The Science of Cold Brew Coffee

Hot Morning? Cold Cuppa: The Science of Cold Brew Coffee

cold brew coffee

As summer hits its stride, we at DFC are enjoying keeping cool by any means necessary. Usually, a fresh breeze off the water greets us in the morning, but on particularly sultry days, I’ve found beating the heat needs to start as early as possible. This means I’ve retired my auto-drip for the summer and ventured out into the world of cold-brew coffee in search of my morning fix.
 
I learned a simple recipe: 1 cup coarse grounds floated in a pitcher of water and left to steep overnight in the fridge before filtration and enjoyment the next morning. But, as it turns out with all things food, there is a remarkably complicated lore behind the beverage. Nathan Silva at the food science blog Food Crumbles explains the science behind cold brew — including its legendary smoother taste.
 
“The main benefit most people will tell you there is with a cold-brewed coffee is the reduction in acidity. For a lot of everyday coffee drinkers, the acidic profile of most hot brewed coffees is an undesirable trait. This has caused cold brew coffee to boom in popularity. But is this ‘benefit’ actually real?

If you ask Megan Fuller, Ph.D., and Niny Rao, Ph.D., of Philadelphia University, the answer is: kind of. Through their research, they found that the same coffees brewed by both hot and cold methods, had a fairly significant difference in pH — an analytical measurement used to measure the acidity of a product. However, it was found that the roast of the coffee bean itself had a larger pH differential than the brewing method. So, choosing a good roast is has more impact than changing over brewing method. But if you’re stuck with one bean, the brewing method can help you get the desired acidity!”
 
Silva’s article is full of tips about brewing, bean choice, and even water temperature, which can be used to guide basically anyone to a balanced, perfectly cold glass of java. I’m going to refine my technique myself. I’m already sold on the time-saving aspects; now I juuuust want to get my coffee to barista-level flavour, so I never have to leave my sunny morning deck/workplace again!