Some Brew It Cold

Photographer: Dylan Griffin/Gallery Stock

Photographer: Dylan Griffin/Gallery Stock

As if there weren't enough kinds of iced coffee to choose among in life, now we have to decide whether we want it ever to have been hot.

It's, like, a philosophical question, when all you want is frigid caffeine.

They call it cold brew, it's pricier than regular, hot-brewed iced coffee and "it's made by essentially soaking grounds in room-temperature water for a long period of time, anywhere from 12 hours to 18 hours," says Amanda Byron, director of coffee at Joe, which has locations across Manhattan. "Of all the things we do, it's the one thing that's super easy. We don't train people for cold brew technique."

And the selling point? "The flavor that's yielded contains elements that people think of as stereotypical coffee -- it's very rich and chocolatey. When you put milk in it, it tastes like coffee ice cream."

We see.

"Cold brew kind of mutes the attributes of the coffee itself," Byron says, digging herself in deeper. "If you were to take a really pretty, floral Ethiopian coffee brewed cold, and put it next to a hearty Brazilian cold brew, they're going to have a lot of similarities."

So it's the iced coffee of choice for those of us who can't tell a house blend from a Kopi Luwak. Why would that make it more expensive?

Overhead. With cold brew, the ratio of water to coffee is 6:1; with hot brew, it's 11:1. Which explains why at Joe, a 12-ounce iced coffee costs $2.50, while a cold brew is $3.00.

It seems to be purely a matter of personal preference, then, as Byron suggests. The price doesn't suggest a more exalted process, just a more expensive one.

Loot's take: Coffee is not a dish best brewed cold.

James Tarmy reports on arts and culture for Bloomberg Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News.

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