Cold Brew Coffee is Way Chill on Today’s Menus

Cold Brew Coffee is Way Chill on Today’s Menus

“Cold brew is more than just an attribute. In fact, it’s a lifestyle beverage, sometimes referred to as the ‘craft beer of coffee.’ Almost 90 percent of cold brew drinkers are willing to pay a premium price for cold brew vs. traditional iced coffee.”

Everyone was getting their caffeinated buzz on at the National Restaurant Association show, aided by a preponderance of cold brew offerings, sipping it straight from small cups, or sampling its power in ice cream, milk shakes and floats. According to S&D Coffee & Tea, which launched a cold brew coffee concentrate for foodservice this spring, penetration on the menu at LSRs grew 300 percent in the last two years, and almost 24,000 independent and chain restaurants have cold brew on the menu. Driving the trend are Millennials and Gen-Xers who consider it an indulgent treat that satisfies their coffee craving, but every generation’s coffee drinkers are becoming aware of the potent brew. S&D Coffee & Tea’s John Buckner presented a primer on the growing appeal of this coffee prep.

How does cold brew differ from iced coffee?

The coffee grounds for cold brew are steeped in cold or room-temperature water for an extended period, using time instead of heat. Iced coffee is brewed double strength and poured over ice. The flavor difference is significant, with cold brew’s flavor described as full bodied, balanced, smooth and subtly sweet. It can be drunk black, while iced coffee is typically served with dairy to complement its strong coffee notes.

What elements of cold brew are most appealing to coffee drinkers?

More than half say that cold brew has a better, less bitter taste, contains more caffeine, and is higher quality than iced coffee. The time spent brewing is one of the most important factors of the cold brew experience for coffee aficionados. A full 78 percent of those we surveyed felt that cold brew needs to be steeped for the right amount of time to extract the flavor.

Is it considered a replacement or an incremental purchase?

The latest research shows it’s often an incremental purchase, and not a substitution for another beverage, offering operators a real opportunity to increase sales.

How are the benefits of cold brew best communicated to customers?

Position it as the premium item it is, and share the specifics of care and technique required to make it. Almost 90 percent of cold brew drinkers are willing to pay a premium price – at least 50 cents more – for cold brew vs. traditional iced coffee, but the difference must be communicated with care. Consider Dunkin Donuts’ detailed explanation, which resulted in a dramatic spike in frequency and draw when compared to an earlier, simpler one: “Cold brew coffee is prepared by steeping a special blend of coffee in cold water over an extended period of time to extract a uniquely distinctive flavor from the beans. The longer brewing process provides a rich smooth coffee with an inherently sweeter flavor reminiscent of dark chocolate.” Or Starbucks: “Nariño 70 Cold Brew Coffee is handcrafted in small batches daily, slow steeped in cool water for 20 hours, without touching heat.” Similar to craft beer, the distinct and special aesthetic of the brew should be emphasized consistently throughout your messaging.


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