So I've been chatting a lot the past few weeks about our new blends and how we're especially excited for El Jefe, our dark roast that we're using for cold brew. But, what exactly makes a blend so tasty for one reason or another? And why does it matter if it's cold brewed or not? Today's all about filling you in on the gist of what goes on behind the counter and why it matters.
When we started thinking about roasting and blending our own beans for our cold brewed iced coffee, we knew what we wanted it to taste like but had to figure out how to accomplish that. By sampling a wide variety of coffees from a long list of origins, we settle on a blend consisting of 70% beans from a farm in Brazil and 30% bean from El Salvador. The Brazilians beans, like many varieties from the major coffee exporter, offer the blend a beautifully creamy milk chocolate flavor and a very bold and straightforward structure. By itself, it's a coffee that tastes a lot like.... well, coffee. Beauty in simplicity, right? The other part of the blend, the El Salvadorian beans are what highlight the coffee into something truly incredible. The Central American beans offer the blend a wonderful brightness and acidity that lift the basic flavors off the ground and give them a good tumble. A finish of citrus and some sweet toasted almond to compliment the chocolatey base and mmmmph, you've got something pretty gnarly (in a totally good way).
So, why cold brew? What's the point, what makes it better?
I'm so glad you asked.
When coffee is brewed, a lot of stuff happens - enough to write a few dissertations on, so I'll try to be brief. Basically the short of it is that the water used in brewing passes by the grinds of coffee and pulls away parts of it in the process. These things that come with the water are dissolved solids, and only make up a very small fraction of what makes your cup of joe so dark and delicious. A lot of stuff gets dissolved in the process, and the way you brew the coffee can affect what ends up where.
Hot coffee brewing is like packing in a hurry - the water is moving fast and needs to get into the cup quick, so in its heated state it takes along everything it can get a hold of without really looking for what it needs, and it ends up taking a lot. One thing it takes lot of is acid - heat really allows for a lot of acid to become extracted from coffee which results in more higher, fruitier notes to be present in the coffee. This can be a great thing, as it can balance out a heavy cup or accentuate the delicateness of something a bit lighter.
When we brew coffee with cold water, it slows things down a great deal. The coffee grinds sit in cold water for 24 hours, so it's more like taking a whole week to pack up for a weekend trip. The reduced temperature doesn't allow for the water to extract as many solids as it does hot, and so what it does extract becomes even more prominent in the end cup. Cold brew extracts much less acid that hot extraction, some people claim as much as 67% less, and so a lot of brighter high notes don't speak as loud as the bigger, heavier notes like cocoa, tobacco and earthy tones. This is a pretty vague summary as to all the exciting science behind hot and cold extraction, but it's a beginning to explain what makes our cold brew so big and bold and satisfying on a hot summer day!
Stay tuned next week for more coffee science and education, Stay cool until then!
Hayden Kaye is our Master Roaster and head of the Say Interesting Stuff department.