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

Menu Development
fsd culinary council

Avocados are a staple on mainstream menus, yet many foodservice operations limit their use to guacamole, avocado toast, sandwiches and salads. The 12 chefs attending FoodService Director’s Culinary Council Summit, held this fall at University of Michigan, learned how to take avocados into new menu territory through a presentation by sponsor Avocados from Mexico and hands-on kitchen time with its chef, Brian Wilford.

Chef Wilford began with a demo of avo-chicharrons —fried avocado wedges coated with crushed chicharrons or pork rinds. He served these with Mexican crema for dipping,...

Industry News & Opinion

Time Magazine recently named Houston Independent School District (HISD) Officer of Nutrition Services Betti Wiggins one of its 50 most influential people in healthcare .

Wiggins joined HISD in 2017, overseeing the district’s nutrition program, which serves over 280,000 meals daily. During the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey last year, Wiggins helped serve breakfast, lunch and dinner to students and their families and played a role in making meals free for all students for the rest of the school year. Today, the district (the nation's seventh-largest) continues to provide meals to...

Industry News & Opinion
food as medicine market

University Hospitals in Cleveland has opened a new Food for Life Market, which will provide healthy food as a means to address chronic health conditions as well as the issue of food insecurity for patients and nearby residents.

University Hospitals will offer patients one week’s worth of food free of charge following a referral from their physician. Patients will also receive the option to meet with University Hospital dietitians who can help them with their dietary needs by encouraging optimal food choices.

Patients are also eligible to receive food assistance once a month...

Industry News & Opinion

Chartwells K12 has launched a program aimed at offering students more say in their meal options.

Schools participating in the program, called Student Choice, have debuted several new stations, such as Bok Choy, an Asian -themed concept inspired by celebrity chef Jet Tila, and Roost, which is chicken themed.

Each week, chefs serve samples of menu items from the stations to middle and high school students, who then get to vote on which of those items should appear on the menu the following week.

Chefs and dietitians will be on hand during sampling to share more...

FSD Resources

Code for Asynchronous jQuery Munchkin Tracking Code