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The Growth Of Cold Brew According To Oliver Strand

The Growth Of Cold Brew According To Oliver Strand

Much to the chagrin of many folks in the specialty coffee world, cold brew is here to stay (though that the number of anti-cold brewers seems to be dwindling, or softening at least). In his most recent piece for the New York Times, the 2011 Sprudgie Award winner for Best Coffee Writing Oliver Strand takes a very excellent deep dive into the cold end of the coffee pool, exploring how cold brew came to prominence and how it is changing attitudes—and business models—in the coffee world.

Interviewing high profile cafe owners, including James Freeman of Blue Bottle Coffee, Gregory Zamfotis of Gregorys Coffee, and Camila Ramos of All Day, Strand tracks how cold brew changed the seasonality of coffee sales.

In the past, coffee sales lagged during the summer and rose sharply during the holiday season. But cold brew now drives a surge in demand during warmer months, too, far more so than other iced coffee drinks. Coffee sales spike when the mercury rises.

Strand continues:

Mr. Zamfotis estimated that 75 percent of the coffee he sells is hot and 25 percent is iced for most of the year. With the start of iced coffee season, those numbers flip, and 65 percent of the coffee he sells is iced.

Strand states that cold brew remained a niche product until 2015, “when Starbucks introduced the drink in a number of stores.” From there, the ready-to-drink market has pushed popularity to even greater heights, with RTD options from Blue Bottle, Stumptown, and most recently Slingshot Coffee all being sold in grocers across the country.

The article notes the historical unfavorable view of cold brew amongst coffee circles, one that appears to be changing. Even Ramos, once a cold brew skeptic has switched sides (perhaps out of necessity from running a cafe in Miami, which has a “nine-month summer”). She has gone from viewing the beverage as “a ‘yellow’ flavor, weird, underextracted,” to putting the thought and care into her version to make it the best seller at her shop.

As with pretty much all of Strand’s writings on coffee, this most recent article is an excellent read. The only perspective not explored is that of the staunch cold brew denier, but they are becoming harder and harder to find these days.

Zac Cadwalader is the news editor at Sprudge Media Network.

*top image via the New York Times


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