Cold brew coffee comes in hot

iced coffee

From DanoneWave Away From Home.

The “third wave” of coffee—an era of artisan roasters and independent coffee shops spotlighting coffee pedigrees and roasting styles, grinds and techniques for extracting optimal flavor—has inspired several new trends influencing foodservice today, such as the pour-over, a new appreciation for the French press and cold brew-style coffee.

Cold brew in particular has caught fire, with coffee giants like Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts adding it to their menus in the last two years, in large part because of growing consumer demand. Twenty-two percent of consumers say they would consider ordering cold-brew coffee from foodservice locations, according to Technomic’s 2016 Beverage Consumer Trend Report. That figure jumps to 30% for those aged 25-34.

Coffee drinkers like the smooth, less-acidic character that coffee takes on with this technique. As its name would suggest, cold brew coffee is brewed with cool water, reducing the potential for acidic, bitter tasting compounds sometimes found in traditional hot coffee.1 What’s more, the need to balance that bitterness with cream, milk and sugar disappears, creating a cleaner and potentially lower-calorie drink.

Without those compounds fighting for the taste buds’ attention, a distinct coffee flavor, depending on the source of the beans, emerges. Also, because it’s not sitting on a warmer, the flavor remains stable.2

Techniques and gadgets for making cold-brew coffee are all over the map, but essentially they involve a similar process: adding ground beans to tepid water, letting it steep at room temperature, then filtering it.

Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Zingerman’s Coffee Company serves cold brew at the parent company’s stores and restaurants. For the company, which also rolled out a wholesale product last year, cold brew starts with “great beans roasted with great care,” says Steve Mangigian, president.

“Since coffees from different origins taste different, you need to experiment with different ones to dial in the flavor profile you are seeking,” he adds. Zingerman’s selects single-origin beans from South America and New Guinea for the body, finish and flavor they lend to the resulting product. The beans are ground coarsely, then steeped for 16-24 hours.

Because heat is not present to help extract flavor from the beans, cold brew requires a higher concentration of ground coffee per cup. A typical formula calls for a 4:3 water-to-coffee ratio (4 pounds of coffee to 3 gallons of water) to make a concentrate. The concentrate is then diluted for use in iced coffees and other drinks.

Because cold brew is such a simple product—coffee and water—the water matters a great deal, too—perhaps even more than in traditional brewing techniques. Some coffee experts like harder water, which includes metal ions that pull more flavor into the coffee as it brews.

STOK takes care of the cold brew process so operators can easily give consumers the cold brew coffee they want. Reach out to STOK here.


  1. “Complexity of coffee flavor: A compositional and sensory perspective,” Food Research International, March 2014.
  2. “How cold brew changed the coffee business,” New York Times, June 7, 2017.

More From FoodService Director

Managing Your Business
management team

Last week’s NACUFS National Conference proved to be a treasure trove of management and staffing takeaways. Here are a few we noted at the annual event , held this year in Providence, R.I.

1. Make it scalable

When explaining something new to staff, instead of asking, “You got it?” or “You with me?” have employees rate how well they understand the new material on a scale of 1 to 10, said Ron Paul, a senior consulting partner for Partners in Leadership, during a session on building accountability in the workplace. People are likely to say yes even when they don’t fully grasp what you’...

Ideas and Innovation
song break

Once per month in a daily huddle, we dedicate a few minutes for the staff to sing a short song. The staff has responded so positively to this. They now bring costumes and other props. It's a few short minutes, but the payoff has been tremendous.

Photo courtesy of iStock

Ideas and Innovation
plastic straws

An item about the size of a pencil has become the latest target in foodservice operators’ sustainability plans. Though small, plastic straws are said to have a large impact on the environment, with Americans using approximately 500 million straws each day, according to a release from Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium, which temporarily ditched plastic straws as part of an Earth Day promotion this year.

In recent months, a growing number of eateries and cities across the United States have scrapped plastic straws. In July, Seattle enacted a ban on plastic straws and utensils, requiring...

Industry News & Opinion

Medford High School in Medford, Mass., is looking to add an orchard to its campus, Wicked Local reports.

The idea for the orchard was brought forth by students looking to help combat food insecurity. They are working with the school’s nutritionist to make the orchard a reality.

If planted, the orchard would be located inside the school’s courtyard and would grow fruits such as apples, paw paws, blueberries, peaches and plums. It would also include an outdoor classroom space.

The school committee signed off on the project last year; however, some administrators are...

FSD Resources

Code for Asynchronous jQuery Munchkin Tracking Code