Drinks News

All about cold-brew coffee

The taste for cold-brew coffee shows no sign of waning – if you haven’t joined in yet, now's the time to give it a shot.

By David Matthews
Artificer Specialty Coffee Bar & Roastery's cold brew coffee
Artificer Specialty Coffee Bar & Roastery's cold brew coffee

For Dan Yee and Shoji Sasa of Artificer Specialty Coffee Bar & Roastery in Sydney's Surry Hills, cold coffee appreciation has come a long way. Yee started bottling brews back in 2012, and now, in peak season, the coffee trade in their café hits nearly 50-50 hot to cold.

You may have had an espresso topped up with cold milk - and Yee and Sasa pour plenty of iced lattes - but for coffee that starts and ends cold, that's lighter and more subtle than coffee made hot, there are two main techniques: cold brew or cold drip.

"Cold brew is an immersion method," says Yee. "Think of a big, cold tea bag. With cold drip, water drops over a bed of coffee, and works its way through a filter."

Both versions are black and have their fans, but Yee's preference is for brew. "It's really measurable, really repeatable," he says, and doesn't suffer from oxidisation. It's also a reliable home method. "It's as simple as getting a plunger, chucking ground coffee in it, adding water, and leaving it overnight in the fridge."

Dedicated fans could invest in a Toddy Cold Brew System - a scaled-down version of what Yee and Sasa use at Artificer - or even try brewing cold in an AeroPress.

They tweak the ratio of coffee to water according to the beans and taste the brew as it steeps, bottling up when it hits the sweet spot. Takeaway bottles are popular, with Small Print in Perth and Blackstar in Brisbane just two of many cafés bottling their own cold coffee. But since cold coffee is more relaxed than regular joe, the fun doesn't stop with twist tops: Melbourne's Industry Beans adds cold drip to a bubble tea-style base, and Mr Black has just added an amaro to its cold-brew coffee liqueur line.

It's all about refreshment after all. Standard cold brew or drip may be a bit watery to add milk to, for instance, but it's not unheard of - and if you're playing at home, you could always brew on the strong side to compensate.

"You're ordering cold coffee for a reason: you want it to be quenchable," says Yee. "Just make it nice and cold and smashable. That's what we aim for."

Artificer, 547 Bourke St, Surry Hills, NSW, artificercoffee.com

Dan Yee (left) and Shoji Sasa, co-owners of Artificer Specialty Coffee Bar & Roastery, Sydney.
Dan Yee (left) and Shoji Sasa, co-owners of Artificer Specialty Coffee Bar & Roastery, Sydney.