In the 90s, people wore wide-leg jeans and sipped on espresso drinks. In recent years, pants got tighter and people in skinny jeans preferred their coffee to be brewed in a French press or via pour-over.
Coffee is certainly seasonal. When spring rolls around, many coffee drinkers switch over to iced coffee for their caffeine fix.
“I still drink hot coffee in the morning but then I’ll switch to iced coffee later in the day,” said Jacob Adkinson, a regular at Nobrow Coffee Werks. “I just crave it. It’s refreshing.”
Nobrow makes iced coffee through a method called cold brewing, which involves letting coffee grounds soak in cold or room temperature water for up to 24 hours. When coffee is prepared in this manner, different flavors are highlighted. Chocolate and nuts are more pronounced and the bitters are significantly reduced. The texture also changes.
“It’s almost syrupy smooth. When you cold brew, the end product is so much better than all the other alternatives,” said Joe Evans, co-owner of Nobrow. “There are a million shops that will take day-old coffee, toss it in the fridge or double-strength brew.”
While Nobrow also serves pour-over coffee on ice, about 90 percent of the iced coffee it sells is cold-brewed, Evans said. To produce its cold brew, Nobrow uses a commercial-sized Toddy brand coffee maker.
Toddy coffee makers have a 16-layer cotton filter, which the company claims traps bitter oils and up to 67 percent of acids found in coffee. This further accents the unique flavor profile of cold-brewed coffee.
Evans likes the Toddy brewer so much that he plans on selling the consumer version of the coffee maker at Nobrow this summer. Consumer-grade Toddy brewers are currently available at William-Sonoma and Amazon for about $35.
The Rose Establishment is another coffee shop that relies on the Toddy brewer to make its iced coffee, which has been selling very well since April, said Cody Kirkland, manager at The Rose.
“Before then, I was making cold-brew once a week and now I’m doing it two to three times and each batch yields about eight gallons,” he said.
To further capitalize on the popularity of its iced coffee, The Rose plans on bottling it and selling it in six-packs so customers can take their iced coffee home and enjoy it at their leisure.
For those who want to try making cold-brewed iced coffee at home rather than purchasing a pre-made product, the process is easy.
“If I were to make cold brew at home, I would just use a French press,” Kirkland said. “My friend does it all the time and it’s an easy way to make it.”
To make a cold-brewed coffee concentrate, take coarsely ground, light to medium roast coffee beans, soak in water and allow the mixture to stand in a French press overnight. After plunging the French press, pour the coffee through a paper filter to catch any leftover grounds. Dilute the coffee concentrate with equal parts water. (See recipe below.)
Cold-brewed iced coffee and the do-it-yourself spirit is alive and well at Coffee Garden. The popular 9th and 9th café doesn’t use a Toddy brewer or a French press to make its cold brew. Instead, owner Alan Hebertson devised a method using repurposed items found at any hardware store.
“We use five-gallon buckets then strain it through cheesecloth and mesh paint straining bags,” Hebertson said.
Hebertson is unconventional is other ways, too. He doesn’t like to follow seasonal trends.
“If the nights stay over 50 degrees, I know the days are going to sell a lot of iced coffee. But I don’t drink iced coffee,” Hebertson said. “I drink my hot coffee in the morning and by the afternoon, I’ll switch to something else.”
Cold Brewed Iced Coffee Recipe:
1 ½ cups water
5 tablespoons of coarsely ground coffee (light to medium roasts work best)
Stir together coffee and water in a French press, do not plunge. Allow the mixture to rest at room temperature overnight or at least 12 hours. Strain the coffee by using the plunger on the French press then pour the coffee through a paper coffee filter to strain it a second time. This will yield about 1 ½ cups of coffee concentrate. Pour the coffee concentrate into glasses and mix with equal parts water, or to taste.
*This is the unabridged version of a story first published in The Salt Lake Tribune.