News from the shops

Nitro Cold Brew

Nitro Cold Brew

With the arrival of Nitro Cold Brew on tap at Jubilee Street and Worthing and (in theory) summer just around the corner we wanted to take you on a brief tour through the history of cold brew coffee.

It turns out that mankind has been enjoying cold coffee almost as long as we have the hot version. Cold brew coffee is based around brewing a very strong coffee extract that is then diluted to a drinkable strength with fresh water. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries this became a very practical and widespread method of making coffee.

Nitro Pouring

Nitro Cold Brew on the pump at Small Batch

The use of coffee extracts has been recorded as far back as the 1600’s in the Netherlands and Latin America. The Dutch brewed their coffee in this style to allow it to be taken on long maritime voyages and this is how the style found its way to Kyoto, Japan and became very popular there where the Japanese already had a long history of preparing cold brew tea.

Dutch-Japanese Traders

Dutch Traders in Japan

Likewise in the nineteenth century many armies around the world found a stable, long life, extract a useful way to ensure their troops had fresh coffee every morning. One of the more famous British coffee products ‘Camp Coffee’ syrup came into being this way and is still available in many supermarkets to this day.

These extracts were all usually made with hot water before being chilled and then reheated and diluted to make hot coffee. It was the French Foreign Legion in Algeria who seem to of been the first to prepare and serve the beverage cold on a wide scale basis, and thus cold coffee was born. 

This style of cold coffee first gained popularity in the USA in the steamy climate of New Orleans and during the American civil war the coffee was often blended with a hefty pinch of Chicory, a root that has proven to be a popular replacement or supplement to coffee when it has become scarce during times of war.

Chicory Root

Chicory Root

It is unclear when the move from brewing the extract with hot water to cold water came about exactly. By brewing coffee with cold water over a much longer length of time you reduce the acidity in the cup and massively increase the body of the coffee, a flavour profile that is particularly suited to cold coffee. The move to cold brewing may in fact have been influenced by the use of Chicory. As a coffee ‘substitute’ Chicory is able to offer some of the chocolatey and caramel like notes in coffee but is naturally much lower in acidity and so is definitely more suited to cold brewing.

Whatever the reason, cold brewed, iced coffee became very popular in New Orleans and across the American south over the first half of the twentieth century (though not as popular as that great Southern staple, Iced Tea) and there it remained for many years as a slightly quirky regional drink while the big chains developed new ranges of frappes and coffee milkshakes to fill their ice coffee menus.

Fast forward to the early years of the new millennium and as the new wave of specialty coffee shops and roasteries swept across the States cold brewing began to enjoy a renaissance. As roasters and café owners looked for ways to feature their complex single origin coffees as cold offerings they began to rediscover the joys of traditional method and cold brew started to make its comeback.

In 2011, Mike Mckim of Cuvee Coffee Roasters in Austin, Texas developed the idea of serving cold brew coffee on draft through a beer pump and using traditional beer lines. Stumptown Coffee Roasters were also developing a similar idea in Portland Oregon and once these businesses started kegging and serving cold brew on tap they quickly cottoned on to the idea of producing ‘nitro’ cold brew.

Small Batch Nitro

The final product - a glass of Small Batch Nitro Cold Brew

This involved nitrogenating the coffee while dispensing the coffee through the draft system, very similar to the way Guinness and other stouts are served on tap around the world.  The result of this nitrogenation was to give the coffee a smoother, creamier edge and increase the sweetness in the cup. The cascading effect of the coffee settling after it has been poured also proved exceptionally popular with customers and helped drive sales of this quirky new product.

In the past five years Cold Brew has grown massively in popularity in the States and here in the UK and now draft cold brew, Nitro cold brew and canned or bottled long life cold brew are all very popular and widely available. Cold brew gin and tonic, espresso martinis and many other cocktails are becoming popular and cold brew is a really good way to utilise coffee in cooking and baking. What once looked a fad is definitely here to stay…


Small Batch Nitro settling in the glass

We have been brewing Cold Brew every summer since 2012 producing very small batches at each of our stores daily that would often sell out as we could not keep up with demand (brewing coffee with cold water is a very slow process!) so we are really excited to launch our draft nitro this month at Jubilee and Worthing and hope to roll it out to all our stores over the course of the summer.

If you already love our cold brew or are brand new to it all, come on down and try the Nitro, we think it tastes even better than the original and it is great to be serving coffee in a way that is directly linked to one of the oldest and most practical ways of brewing coffee.