Coffee Affection is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

Is The Cold Brew Coffee Trend Here To Stay?

Almond Milk Cold Brew Coffee Latte in glass jar

Cold brew has been the new and popular beverage making the rounds. You can find it at big chains like Starbucks, independent coffee shops, and even convenience stores.

Have you ever wondered what makes it so popular, though?

If you have tried it, the answer is probably an easy one. It’s delicious. There is more to it than just that, however. This new kind of coffee is popular for several reasons, and it’s not just a fad that will fade with time.

In the article below, we will go over why this brew is so popular, what makes it special, and even what the future looks like for it. Before that, however, let’s learn a bit about where it came from.

divider 6

History Of Cold Brew Coffee

Cold Brew coffee
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

Cold brew coffee was made popular in the United States by Starbucks and Dunkin’ during the 2010s, but it had been a favorite in other parts of the world for a couple of centuries before that. Originally, cold-brewing coffee was a Japanese custom that was derived from cold-brewing tea.

At first, coffee was steeped just like tea. How the drip method came into play is unfortunately lost to history, but it’s speculated that extracting as much flavor as possible was the cause behind slow brewing.

Coined “Kyoto-style cold brew”, the beverage made its way from Japan to Algeria in 1840. Here it was called mazagran, and it was made with lemon. By the 1930s, it had crossed the Atlantic to Cuba where it was once again re-invented to match the culture.

At the same time, iced coffee had gained popularity in the United States, but it wouldn’t be until the 1960s that an authentic cold brew hit the US. It was Todd Simpson who first introduced cold brew coffee.

Simpson was introduced to cold brew during his travels to Peru. Upon his return to the United States, he was so enamored with the drink, he invented the Toddy Brewing System. This was the first American cold brewing system. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite catch on as Simpson had hoped.

Instead, iced coffee remained the popular favorite until the 90s when cafes started to make concentrated cold coffee that would give a boost to their specialty iced coffee. Finally, in the early 2000s, a few coffee shops started featuring cold brew and nitro cold brew. Although cold brew gained a boost in popularity, Starbucks and Dunkin’ were the ones to mainstream the concept a few years later.

Interestingly enough, Japan’s Kyoto-style cold brew is still considered the best and most artisan way of making it in the world.

a glass of cold brew coffee
Image Credit: Nathan Dumlao, Unsplash

How It Differs From Regular Coffee

There are three main ways that cold brew differs from regular coffee in regard to how it is made. First, cold brew is brewed with cold water instead of hot.

Second, the brew time is a lot longer. Unlike hot coffee that can be brewed within a few minutes, cold brew takes up to 14 hours.

Thirdly, and most importantly, more flavor is extracted from the coffee beans during the brewing process than it is during hot brewing.

The Difference Between Cold Brew and Iced Coffee

Many people who are not familiar with cold brew often confuse it with ice coffee. They are not the same coffee beverage, though, they are very similar. The difference is in how they are made.

To make cold brew, cold water and coffee grinds are combined to extract the flavor of the coffee. The grinds are allowed to steep in the water for up to 14 hours. Once it has sat for the allotted time, the coffee grounds are filtered out. It can then be served over ice or served without depending on preference.

Iced coffee, on the other hand, is made using hot coffee. In this case, hot water is filtered through coffee grinds. Once brewed, the coffee is typically allowed to cool and then served with ice. Essentially, however, iced coffee is simply hot coffee over ice.

cropped barista making nitro cold brew coffee in the cafe
Image Credit: Happy cake Happy cafe, Shutterstock

Nitro Cold Brew

A popular way to order your cold brew is to have it nitro-chilled. This makes it extra cold especially if it is poured over ice afterward. To make a nitro cold brew, the coffee is prepared in the same way as a regular cold brew.

Once the steeping is complete and the grinds have been removed, the liquid is added to an empty whipped cream dispenser and sealed. A nitrous oxide cartridge is then used to pressurize the can, and the liquid is sprayed out.

How this works is the same way a can of compressed air gets cold after you spray it for a few seconds. You will feel the can get cold in your hand due to the nitrous oxide being released from the can. This effect is the same on the coffee, and it has become a popular way to enjoy a cold brew coffee.

divider 2

Why Is Cold Brew So Popular?

Cold brew is one of the most popular coffee beverages in the US and across the globe. It has gained its place in coffee’s hall of fame for several reasons which we will discuss below.


When coffee is made hot, the brewing time is so short the liquid does not have a lot of time to absorb the caffeine in the coffee. The less pressure and the quicker the brew time, the weaker the coffee will be. This is why, for example, espresso is stronger than a cup of regular filter drip.

Thus, cold brew is typically stronger than regular coffee. As it is allowed to steep in the water for many hours, more caffeine is extracted from the beans. This is even more true for ice coffee. As the ice melts in the formally hot coffee, it waters it down even more making it weaker.

nitro cold brew coffee in a clear glass on a keg coffee dispenser
Image Credit: Gchapel, Shutterstock

Sweeter and Smoother

The same principle applies to flavor. With more time left to steep, the water can pull more flavors from the coffee. This includes its natural sweetness which helps cut down on the bitterness that roasting may have left behind. Cold brewing can also reduce acidity in the same way.

When hot coffee cools, it releases acid into the liquid. When it’s quick, like when ice is added to it, the excess acidity can go right to the surface. Therefore, ice coffee is more likely to cause stomach upsets and acid reflexes than hot coffee.

Regardless, you get a more flavorful, smooth, and sweet coffee when you cold brew the beans. This is one of the top reasons why people prefer regular coffee as it requires less sugar and other ingredients to mask bitter flavors and blandness.

More Stable

Another popular trend is the rise of canned and bottled coffee you can purchase at the supermarket or a convenience store. Although you might not initially think so, these two trends work for hand and hand. This is because cold brew is a lot more stable than hot coffee.

When you brew beans with hot water, they only stay good for just under a week of chilling in the refrigerator. Cold brew, on the other hand, stays good for up to 90 days if it is sealed. This makes it a great option for single-serve, grab-and-go bottled coffee.

Not only doesn’t it scrimp on taste, but it’s just as easy to make a large batch of cold brew as it is to make a small batch. On that note, many people also enjoy it because it is so easy to make at home. Quite a bit easier than making an espresso at home, for example.

Cold Brew Coffee
Image Credit: Pradeep Javedar, Unsplash

The Future Of Cold Brew

The experts in the coffee world do not foresee cold brew coffee slowing down any time soon. Due to its stability, easy brewing process, and excellent flavor, it is a trend that is going to be sticking around for years to come.

According to Market Watch, cold brew is projected to have a growth rate of 20.3% between 2021 and 2026. The market in the United States is also thought to reach $346.5 million by 2026. These are some pretty big numbers for a single type of coffee, but if we have learned anything from this coffee’s past, it is the brew to exceed these projections.

Tips On Brewing Cold Brew Coffee

The process of making cold brew coffee is relatively easy as we discussed above. With that in mind, some tips will take your cold coffee to the next level.

  • Make sure your coffee is ground coarsely
  • Choose a quality coffee
  • Make sure you get the right roast: Dark for more bitterness/light for more caffeine
  • Brew with a 15 water:1 coffee ratio for the perfect cold brew
  • Make sure you let your coffee sit for a minimum of 12 hours
  • Don’t use tap water. Instead, use filtered or spring water.
  • Don’t forget to strain the grounds

Cold brew can be used in many different specialty drinks, cocktails, and even recipes. Perfecting your cold brew method will only make all the above that much better.

Perfect Cold Brew Coffee
Rich, sweet, and mellow, cold brew is popular for good reason! But you don’t have to pay a fortune at your local coffee shop to enjoy this cold treat. Cold brew is easy to make -- as long as you can wait 16 hours -- provided you follow a few key steps.
Try this delicious recipe!
Cold brew

divider 4

Final Thoughts

Cold brew is one of the tastiest, flavorful, and richest coffees you can get. Not only can you find it virtually everywhere beverages are sold, but it is also easy to make it in the comfort of your home. However, it is important to have a few key facts about your favorite brew. We hope this article has done just that for you and given you a new appreciation of coffee brewed cold.

Featured Image Credit: Ekaterina Kondratova, Shutterstock


Kate MacDonnell

Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

Read more

Related posts

Other Categories