Sometimes when we tell people about our product, we get faces of absolute disgust. With responses like “why would you ever drink cold coffee?”, or our favourite “it will be warm yoghurt next”. I can never really understand why the idea of our product upsets so many people, as though they’ve never had a cold drink in their life. So I’ve decided to actually answer the question. Why would you ever drink cold coffee?
Ready-to-drink coffee has been gaining traction in the UK since the mid-2010s with sugary iced coffees being the first to enter the market. Cold brew coffee then slowly started to gain traction to become a driving force in the fast growing £395m ready-to-drink coffee segment. Initially cold brew was limited to only the high-end speciality cafés, but is now an option in a growing amount of hospitality establishments as well as supermarket shelves.
Cold brew coffee is made by brewing coffee in cold water for over 16 hours. This brewing process creates a unique coffee experience. Hot water is responsible for releasing the bitter compounds in coffee. By brewing cold, these bitter compounds don’t make it into the final product, which results in a less acidic, naturally sweeter taste. The process also allows for a long shelf life. Due to these distinctive characteristics, many are finding it hard where to place the drink in the market, including us cold brew brands too.
Should cold brew be looked at in the same vein as hot coffee? Or does it stand in a different space altogether? For me, cold brew’s most direct competitor is energy drinks. A cold, convenient, ready-to-drink source of energy. Obviously there are huge differences in the drinks’ characteristics but their purpose is the same. And despite respectively different demographics, I struggle to see where energy drinks can’t be replaced by cold brew coffee. As for the comparison to hot coffee, obviously there are huge similarities in the drinks’ characteristics but their purpose is somewhat different, this is what we and the consumers are starting to realise.
Coffee that is brewed cold, is to be drunk cold. Whereas coffee that’s brewed hot doesn’t hold it’s flavour when it’s cooled down. This means cold brew works better than hot coffee as an ingredient in other drinks e.g. in cocktails, smoothies or milkshakes. But sometimes it’s not convenient to have a hot coffee and a cold coffee just makes more sense. For example, when you have to travel, when you don’t have time to make one, when you need to be refreshed, when you need to drink it quickly, when it’s hot outside, when you plan on drinking it throughout the day, when you’re at a busy bar on a night out, when you want caffeine but not a sugary energy drink, when you’re at the gym, when you need to serve coffee but don’t have brewing equipment, when you’re driving, when you’re cycling, or when you simply prefer the banging, unique, addictive flavour of cold brew coffee. We are not trying to stop people drinking hot coffee. We are in our own space altogether. The demand for cold brew is higher than ever, there is an obvious thirst for this unique drink. Sometimes a cold coffee just makes more sense. That is why you would drink cold coffee.