Even though summer has turned to fall, and winter is (unfortunately) not far behind, cold brew products remain the hottest trend in the marketplace. Both major chains and individual proprietors have added this offering. And we are seeing it in both foodservice and retail (RTD) applications.
Cold brew is not “iced coffee”; consumers or purveyors alike may be confused, thinking that there is no difference and any “cold product” is cold brewed. A cold brewed process provides a distinctly different taste from typical iced coffee. Many millennials prefer the taste profile that often features a smoother, milder cup. Properly marketed, these items are sold at a significant premium over regular iced coffee.
But even though many products are dubbed “cold brew”, there are many variations to be aware of:
*Is the product nitrogenated?
If so, these cold brews have the look and taste of a darker beer-type beverage. This method clearly produces a different taste profile. The nitrogenation can be added either in a “pre-loaded” keg, or infused as each beverage is prepared.
*Is the coffee fresh brewed or made from concentrate?
Some products have been “pre-brewed” and are meant to be reconstituted. While the product may technically be cold brew, a reconstituted concentrate may have a different taste profile than a product that has been prepared “on the spot.”
*How easy is the preparation?
Many cold brews require overnight preparation in small batches (often a “toddy” is used for the steeping). This can lead to limited inventory if the initial batch is used up. And extensive labor will add to the product cost.
*How is the product preserved?
Once prepared, the product needs to be refrigerated to avoid bacterial contamination. Some products may use preservatives to extend product life. Without preservatives, most cold brew products have a very limited shelf life.
*Has anything else been added to the product?
Aside from preservatives, products may include milk, flavorings or other additives.
*What equipment is needed to prepare your cold brew?
Often a simple toddy can be used. In the alternative, some of the nitrogenation systems can be quite costly.
Cold brew purveyors need to consider which of these products best serve their logistical, customer, and product profile needs. Ideally, vendors can offer multiple cold brew formats to address all of these variations.
An important component of the growth of cold brew is the marketing; signage is critical to call attention to this product. The visual component of preparation is also helpful; if the product is prepared merely by pouring a deep dark liquid from a large plastic jug, consumers may not appreciate either both the quality of the product, the extent of the preparation- which will lead them to pass on this purchase.
And cold brew coffee is just part of the overall coffee beverage menu- so be sure to properly incorporate this item accordingly, and not at the expense of other items.
Although there are many decisions to make, the basic decision should be easy- there is little reason not to have some type of cold brew offering on your beverage menu. And while some dismiss “cold brew” is a potential trend, the growth of cold beverages, the growth of coffee, millennials demanding better quality coffee products, and the decline of carbonated soft drinks, all points to a continued and extended trend for cold brew. And while these beverages are more popular in the hot weather, there is clearly a year-round market for cold beverages of all kinds- so get on board now!
Jonathan White is the Executive Vice President at White Coffee Corporation in Long Island City, NY. Learn more about how Jonathan and his team can help you at WhiteCoffee.com.