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Cold Brew Is Increasing America's Demand for Coffee Beans

Cold brew often uses twice as many beans as traditional iced coffee.


Americans loved cold brew coffee and it doesn't look like the obsession is going to die down anytime soon. Unlike iced coffee, which is espresso that is brewed hot and poured over ice to cool, cold brew is made by steeping coffee grounds in cold-to-room temperature water. The result is a smoother, more caffeinated and less acidic drink. According to Reuters, cold brew — which recently transitioned from a "hipster infatuation to mainstream staple" — could help boost America's overall demand for coffee beans because cold brew typically requires more beans that iced coffee. Though sales of cold coffee drinks usually plummet at the end of summer, cold brew coffee sales remain high.

Cold brew coffee uses more beans; that additional cost gets passed on to the customer

A spokesperson for coffee chain Peet's Coffee & Tea tells Reuters that ever since the company replaced its iced coffee with cold brew in June, it has seen "cold brew sales exceed last year's iced coffee sales by as much as 70 percent." Peet's isn't the only major chain to served the drink: Cold brew went mainstream when coffee giant Starbucks added the drink to its menu nationwide earlier this year. The chains offset the cost of using more beans by charging customers a higher price than iced coffee, and most coffee drinkers seem willing to pay.

The consumption of ready-to-drink coffee — which includes a number of bottled cold brews — is also up by 52 percent from 2009. Many are hopeful that the popularity of cold brew may serve as a "counter-weight to the growth of single-serve coffee pods" — like those made by Keurig — which are seen as "limiting demand."

Within the cold brew realm, another trend is proving to be popular. A number of coffee shops are now infusing the drink with nitrogen and serving it on tap. The drink pours like a Guinness and has a foamy head. One company has even created a nitrogen tap it claims will make the cold brew taste as if cream and sugar have been added to the drink.