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Caffeine lovers chat about cold brew

Popular trend offers a smooth drink without bitterness

More flavor and not so bitter. Smoother and less acidic.

Cold brew coffee may be a treat you want to try.

Although not a new practice, cold brew coffee has become trendier in recent years, with options available at coffee shops and grocery stores.

Unlike regular coffee, cold brew is never exposed to heat. The drink is made similar to how one makes tea: Coffee grounds are steeped in cold water for 12 or more hours in something similar to a tea bag.

The liquid is cold but is not the same as iced coffee, which is brewed coffee over ice.

There are even options for people to create their own cold brew coffee at home with store-bought pitchers where users steep coffee grounds in water for 12 or more hours.

Tyler Reaska thinks cold brew is gaining a lot of traction.

“I think it’s going to stay around for a long time,” said Reaska, the owner of Sally Sue’s Coffee, a coffee roasting business with locations in Magnolia and La Salle. “This is an iced tea alternative. Not everyone likes hot coffee.”

Sales of cold brew coffee in the U.S. jumped from $8.28 million to over $38 million between 2015 and 2017, according to Statista, an online portal for statistics.

Reaska mentioned his La Salle location sold roughly 205 cups of cold brew in a three-week time span as of Oct. 17, which accounted for about 12% of their sales.

What makes cold brew different than regular coffee?

Because cold brew isn’t exposed to heat, the drink is less acidic, he said, about 60-65% less acidic than traditional coffee.

“A lot of people who I’ve talked to that drink cold brew love it for the fact that it doesn’t affect their acid reflux,” he said.

Cold brew is typically a concentrate, so it’s stronger than regular coffee and drinkers get a bigger kick of caffeine. The grounds are steeping in the water for hours, unlike traditional coffee when the water goes through the grounds fast.

“Plus, the nice thing on the cold brews is you can taste all the different hints,” Reaska said. “I love drinking cold brew coffee because you taste the chocolate notes, you can taste the citrus notes.”

He said he prefers cold brew to regular coffee, especially under nitrogen because it’s “so smooth.”

Nitro cold brew is cold brew coffee with nitrogen, which Reaska serves.

DeWayne Cronkright at Jeremiah Joe Coffee in Ottawa also serves regular cold brew and nitro cold brew.

Cronkright can’t tell if cold brew has gotten more popular as his business has always sold it since he opened the business in 2001 in Ottawa.

Why is cold brew getting more popular now?

“That’s a very good question,” Cronkright said. “It’s grown,” he said about the popularity of cold brew. “But for me, I can’t really say it’s been a huge growth because I’ve always done cold brew. I haven’t seen this major significant uptick because I’ve carried them for a long time.”

Cronkright encourages people to give regular cold brew or nitro cold brew a try.

“For people who may like or enjoy coffee, sometimes starting at the cold brew or nitro level is a good experience for them,” he said. “Because coffee has, I don’t want to call it bitter, but everybody calls it bitter, it has that bitter flavor to it, and that’s something that they don’t enjoy. Cold brew doesn’t have that harsh bitterness experience.”

“I think it’ll continue to grow,” said Reaska. “Think of the difference in traditional coffee, how much it has evolved. Ten years ago, it wasn’t popular for high school kids to be drinking coffee, now I don’t think I can go an hour without seeing a high school kid with a cup of coffee.”

Ali Braboy can be reached at (815) 220-6931 and abraboy@shawmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @NT_LaSalle.

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