Cold Brew - What is it? and my top four recommendations

COLD BREW

Coffee on its own has come along way over the past ten or 15 years and so too has cold brew. Right in the heart of summer (and yes, London is actually having a summer this year) Cold brew is not only coffee-of-the-moment, but it might actually be here to stay. Here’s why: it’s refreshing, portable and delicious (providing it’s made well)!

I remember about 8 years ago when I was working at Flatwhite (one of London’s original artisan cafés in Soho who paved the way for the industry) bought a delicate Hario slow dripper. It was placed on a high shelf that no one could reach nor did anyone dare to touch it for fear of breaking such a beautiful but “complicated” piece of equipment.  There was zero room to move in the cafe as it was. But the cold brew wasn’t very popular and it was never really encouraged either, because no one knew anything about cold brew.

Fast forward to now, and there are so many cold brews available. Take it to the gym or to a picnic, or mix it in a cocktail... Some cafes make their own very tasty cold brew and sell it at their individual shops and some have expanded it on a larger scale as a new line of product offering. I'm going to tell you which ones of these are consistently good. 

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If you are to know anything about cold brew, you must know that it actually takes quite some time to prepare.  Brewing coffee in cold or room-temperature water gives a different quality to the flavour because it is less soluble than brewing in hot water. So by increasing the time at which you are “extracting” or “brewing”, you can maximise the solubility of the coffee grounds.

When you extract coffee using hot water, it oxidises and degrades much more and faster. So when using a cold brew method, which is slow, you’ll often find that acidity and bitterness is also very low.

There are two main methods people usually use. One is the “Toddy” System, where coffee is steeped in water for a long period of time. But if left too long, it reminds me of leaving a teabag in the water for ages and sometimes you can get that dry, tannin taste in your mouth. But as long as it’s filtered well it can be really delicious.  Sandows London Cold Brew has an excellent, effective (but secret) filtration system. There’s an art to that too! (An interview with them at the top of this page or via thegirlinthecafe.co.uk). Sandows London has just released a canned nitro cold brew which is debuting today at Netil Market so get out, work up a sweat and go check it out! 

For enquires about this bespoke copper dripper, direct message me and I will pass on contact details & approximate price.

For enquires about this bespoke copper dripper, direct message me and I will pass on contact details & approximate price.

In my experience of making it professionally for over 4 years in cafes, slow drip coffee tastes really delicate with many filtering processes and you can have quite a bit of control over the strength through dose and brew time. I had a beautiful bespoke cold drip coffee maker made for me, which I love, however generally slow drip cold brew is time consuming and the problem is that you don’t get a high enough yield to make it scalable, unless you have multiple devices going at the same time (like San Francisco’s Bluebottle Cafes).

For variety here are FOUR interesting and reliable cold brews you can buy ready-made I would recommend;

 

 

SANDOWS COLD BREW

Sandows were the first in the UK to really get cold brew on the map. When cafes were starting to produce cold brew in small amounts, Sandows was the first to really scale it up – with the help of an unprecedented large crowd-funded backing. Their bottle, branding and ethos is sleek and their product is always high quality and consistently tasty. Not only available in indie cafes, but also now at M&S – Making high-quality, fresh cold brew truly accessible. It's great in a G&T too...

Sandows also have a nitro version in selected cafés around London (Grind cafes) where Nitrogen is pumped into the cold brew replacing oxygen making it look more like a Guinness beer, than a glass of coffee. This has probably been the most innovative and dynamic addition to the cold brew and coffee market so far!

Around £3 per 200ml bottle (they also do a cool give box with two bottles which ships worldwide now). www.sandows.com

 

HER CONCENTRATED COLD BREW

For something stronger I’ve been drinking HER Concentrated cold brew. The ratio is 1 part coffee to 2 parts water, which can be hot or cold. This is novel and probably for the ultra efficient (read lazy), people on-the-go, or even offices and I love it. I’ve been using it in my baking, trying it with Ugly drinks (naturally flavoured sparkling water), or over ice or over ice cream - my favourite! It’s a perfect little surprise for after dinner desert or a hot day treat. For an affogato you need a very concentrated brew for it to mimic that of an espresso, and this works well. Plus I really like the dark, medicinal look of the glass bottle – if you like your fridge to look like an Aesop counter, this is for you. Another little trick I like to do is freeze them in cubes and add them to my Negroni... bring on summer! They're available from HER Haggerston and now Selfridges! 

120ml (makes approx. 2 coffees) £4.50
480ml (makes approx. 8 coffees) £12.00

her-haggerston.com

 

MINOR FIGURES

For a longer lasting shelf life cold-brew by Minor Figures is great. It means you can always have a couple in the fridge like I do for spontaneous picnic days, or one to grab and stash it in your gym bag. They’re presented in a Tetra Pak not glass, so they’re compact and light. I love the colours in their packaging. There’s a good selection of flavours that aren’t only black. They have just released their own canned cold brew nitro that is very good and for non-coffee drinkers new organic masala chai sounds OH YEAH...! "Don't make coffee"... Let them do it! 

Available from many specialty coffee shops and health food shops like Planet Organic.

250ml around £2.50

dontmakecoffee.com

 

BOLD-BREW COLD BREW

Bold-brew cold brew is made from green beans that have been aged in a bourbon barrel. Taking on the subtle flavours of the barrel-aged cask, the beans are then roasted specifically by The Roastery Department, to be made into cold brew. It’s really quite incredible and lives up to it's BOLD name. The smell and the taste is intoxicating, but rest assured, its non-alcoholic! This should be a regular Friday morning treat to get the office teams going!

Stay tuned for their new coffee liqueur coming out soon called Hundred Fifty Lbs - I'll report back here soon soon! 

Available exclusively at the Department of Coffee & Social Affairs cafés around London and the UK.

£12.50 750ml Glass Bottles.

 

 

 

Originally posted by CELESTE WONG for Lovecoffee.com

“North East by Southwest”

AROUND THE WORLD IN 8 WEEKS

Here's what happened...

For eight weeks I curated a host of world coffees at Stone & Crow. I started in London with Alchemy Coffee Roasters (which was available throughout the duration) then I featured:


Week 1: Nomad Coffee (Barcelona)

Week 2: Five Elephants (Berlin)

Week 3: Coffee Supreme Melbourne (Australia)

Week 4: Coutume Coffee Roasters (Paris)

Week 5: DoubleShot (Prague) 

Week 6: Reunion Island (Toronto)

Week 7: Rich Coffee Roasters (New Zealand)

then finished with my last weekend in London using a few of my favourite London roasters…

What an incredible 8 weeks I had at Stone & Crow.

Leytonstone has been my home for the past couple of months and an amazing place to hold my pop up café. The local community have been incredibly supportive. I really enjoyed meeting so many locals and others from around London, making you coffee and discussing all sorts of coffee and non-coffee related stuff with you!

I really hope over the past few weeks I was able to introduce some new ideas as well as provide access to some top-grade coffees that London has never had before. There were so many interesting coffees, I was blown away with everyone that I had and worked with.

Look out for these roasters, as they are all developing and doing some really interesting work in the coffee world and remember coffee makes a great xmas prezzy! 

In my last weekend I finished off Around the world in 8 weeks in “LONDON”.

As I love film, my concept for the last weekend paid homage to Leytonstone’s most famous resident, Alfred Hitchcock. It also gave me an excuse to have some of my favourite London roasters in the hopper.

I called the London-Weekend “North East by Southwest” after Alfred Hitchcock’s famous film “North by Northwest”.

North: Vagabond Coffee

East: Squaremile Coffee

Southwest: Alchemy Coffee

 

NORTH LONDON: Vagabond

Having three locations (N7, N5, E1) I got my coffee from their Holloway Rd (N7) café/roastery. It was a nice place to visit with the roaster out the back of the café where you can dine in whilst watching them roast. As an espresso I used “Balzac’s cup” which was a blend of Brazilian and Columbian coffee. Having not worked with their coffee before, I really enjoyed using it. It made for a juicy and smooth cup, which was easy to drink with milk and lovely as an espresso.  I was especially impressed by their Ethiopian Guji that I ran as a batch brew. It was so good - sweet, super clean and tasty. People really enjoyed it.

East London: Squaremile

Most of you will know Squaremile to be one of the best roasters in London and for good reason. But rather than get their house blend “Red Brick”, I asked them to get me what ever they thought was their “best”, so they sent me their Kenyan Espresso Kangunu AA (the AA refers to bean size which is bigger than other beans). Kenyan AA is typically very good so it was a bit special to have. I came in early and had a play around with different doses and grinds and got it where I thought it should be - it tasted great! It’s quite different using a Kenyan as a single origin espresso. I often enjoy blends because you can use the different origins to bring out certain profiles in an espresso, but this was really interesting to drink and probably a little different from what most other places are using in cafes around London. It tasted of deep red fruits but was quite light and bright at the same time. A very tasty number!

SouthWest London: Alchemy Coffee

Alchemy coffee is one of my favourite roasters in London. They first caught my attention a few years ago with their Guatemalan range – they source some of the best guats I’ve tasted. So of course I used a Guatemalan single origin of theirs from San Sebastian.  It didn't disappoint. It was beautiful, and again quite bright but with caramel undertones that gave it a nice finish with milk. Incidentally, I had Alchemy coffee on throughout the duration of my pop up as filter coffee as well as the other coffees I was using from around the world. I was particularly fond of their costa rican brewed in various ways; batch brew, V60, Chemex and aeropress. Their El Salvador is good too.  Alchemy coffee roasters are super easy and accommodating to work with.  I really enjoyed using their coffee at my pop up regularly and I find their coffee consistently reliable. We have a good laugh and they seem to put up with my regular questions and general cheekiness.

I can honestly highly recommend all of the roasters I used during this time, so if you do happen to be in any of those countries or cities, do look for them as you’ll be able to reliably drink them. I know only too well how hard it can be when you’re travelling, need coffee but don’t know the good local coffee suppliers – so I hope this helps when you’re in Barcelona (Spain), Berlin (Germany), Melbourne (Australia), Paris (France), Prague(Czech Republic), Toronto (Canada), Wellington (New Zealand) and of course, for those who were only able to follow the journey via social media, London! (when you visit)

Karma Cola were dope too, as I had their deliciously fun sodas at my popup. They’re such a great company and do amazing work not only through their products but their philanthropic work too which is award-winning (See my earlier blog on them here). I really appreciate their support and encouragement for me and my work too. I love working with such great people and companies with great products. 

Without Julian from Stone & Crow it wouldn't have happened. It was wicked to work with him and I'm super grateful to him for welcoming me into his amazing space. Every week I would come in to find him running around like an excited animal with all the new (vintage) things he had acquired. There was always a story or a history to tell about each item. Julian has a great eye and cool taste. He has an amazing knowledge of vintage furniture and artwork which was awesome to be around and chat about. Super generous, I couldn't have done this without him. I had so much fun.

The biggest thanks goes to so many of you for popping in and to Leytonstone. It’s always great to see people come visit from around London and see friends and people in the coffee/hospitality industry, I really appreciate your time and the love. An absolute pleasure. It's the first time since my Soho days that I really felt such an amazing supportive community. I got real buzz from seeing you and I’m grateful for your support – in person and online. Thank you.

Stay tuned, for my webseries and more cool stuff coming soon. I know its been ages, but sometimes, good things take time.

Peace out xx

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