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I’ve previously written about whether espresso is better than coffee and how I start my days off by pulling myself a flat white or an Americano. However, prior to my owning an espresso machine, I mainly drank Aeropress-brewed hot coffee in the colder months and cold brew coffee in the warmer months.
I’m a huge fan of cold brew coffee because it really does taste different than hot brew coffee, and the qualities of cold brew coffee go well with hot weather. But I’ve always made my own cold brew; I’ve never ordered it at a cafe. Buying pre-made cold brew concentrate? Out of the question.
Until recently. Yes, I actually gave pre-made cold brew coffee a try, and you know what? I was surprised by how tasty it was.
What the Deal With Cold Brew Coffee?
Cold brew is coffee that’s brewed without any heat whatsoever. It’s not the same thing as iced coffee, which is hot coffee that’s cooled using ice. By taking heat out of the equation, cold brew coffee results in a drink that has a different chemical composition and, therefore, taste.
Heat causes chemical changes in coffee grounds, releasing various compounds that end up in the brewed beverage. Some of these compounds are the ones that give coffee its distinct flavor, but other compounds are also released and they’re the reason why normal black coffee is bitter.
Cold brew allows the delicious compounds in coffee grounds to seep out into water without releasing any of the bitter components. It’s more palatable, but the downside is that it takes a lot longer to brew. Whereas a normal cup of hot coffee can be brewed in just a few minutes, cold brew coffee can take anywhere from 12 to 24 hours of steeping at room temperature. Cold brewing also produces a “concentrate,” which you need to dilute with water before serving. Homemade cold brew coffee concentrate lasts up to a week in the refrigerator.
It’s totally worth it, but kind of inconvenient, right? Which is why companies like Bizzy, Chameleon, and Wandering Bear are starting to sell pre-made cold brew coffee concentrate. With it, you can skip the lengthy brewing process and enjoy a cup of cold brew coffee whenever you want.
But how does pre-made cold brew coffee concentrate taste?
Bizzy sent me samples for two of their products—the Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate and the Organic Cold Brew Ground Coffee—so I could give them a hands-on taste. My opinions are solely my own and have not been influenced by Bizzy or any other cold brew coffee company in any way.
The Magic of Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate
Bizzy’s pre-made cold brew coffee concentrate looks like a jug of soda, albeit slightly smaller. It’s pretty handy for storage, and lasts a whopping 30 days in the refrigerator once opened. If you’re like me, there’s no way a bottle of this size is going to last that long!
I usually spend 5 to 10 minutes making coffee in the morning—depending on how sleepy and how slow I am—but having a pre-made concentrate on hand is super convenient. Just grab a mug, fill it one-third with water, one-third with ice cubes, then top it off with the concentrate. Bam! A cold cup of coffee ready to drink.
What’s most striking to me about Bizzy’s concentrate is how much depth of flavor it has. Like I said, I’ve always made my own cold brew coffee, and I’ve used all kinds of beans and roasts and techniques. Sometimes it comes out tasting nice, other times it’s flat and boring.
The taste of Bizzy’s cold brew rivals some of the best cold brew coffee I’ve made (not that I’m a pro at it or anything), with lots of nutty and chocolatey notes that stick around even after all the ice melts. It’s sweeter than most roasts, with just enough sourness and bitterness to keep it interesting. It actually reminds me of some dark porter-style beers I’ve had in the past.
I’m seriously impressed.
The Bizzy Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate sells for about $12 and produces around 16 cups of cold brew coffee, or about $0.12 per ounce. (This one is twice as concentrated as the sample I was sent, hence why it produces more.)
That’s cheaper than Starbucks cold brew coffee ($0.20 per ounce) and about the same as Dunkin cold brew coffee ($0.13 per ounce) but significantly better tasting and more convenient because you don’t have to leave home.
Make Your Own Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate
If you want to try making your own cold brew coffee concentrate, all you need is some coarse-ground coffee, a jar, and a method of filtering. If you have a French press, you can skip the jar and filter since the French press is both.
Why would you make your own? Because you can personalize the strength and taste of the cold brew to your liking. Depending on how long or short you let it steep, the coffee’s taste will change. You can also change the ratio of grounds-to-water to further tweak the taste. And if you want to skip the concentrate step, you can front-load the water and store the brewed coffee ready-to-drink as is.
Normally, you’d want to avoid using pre-ground coffee grounds because roasted coffee beans oxidize when exposed to air, and some of the flavor compounds begin breaking down as soon as the bean is ground. However, it doesn’t matter so much here because cold brewing tends to produce a mellow, flatter flavor profile anyway. (I’ve made cold brew using freshly ground beans and generic store-brand pre-ground coffee, and while there is a difference, it’s really not that big.)
What I love about this bag of Bizzy’s pre-ground coffee is that you need coarse-ground coffee when using a French press, and most pre-ground coffee has either a medium or medium-fine grind (because they’re intended for use in a drip machine). Bizzy’s pre-ground coffee is intended for cold brew, and therefore coarsely ground.
This is awesome because most consumer-grade coffee grinders can’t do a coarse grind properly. Sure, they might have a “coarse” setting, but what you usually end up with is a mixture of coarse grinds with medium and fine grinds, and that’s problematic in a French press because the finer grinds won’t get filtered out. There are some finer grinds in Bizzy’s bag as well, but nowhere near what you’d get if you ground your own beans at home.
A bag of Bizzy Organic Cold Brew Ground Coffee sells for about $15 and produces around 24 cups of cold brew coffee, or about $0.08 per ounce. In the long run, it’s cheaper than buying pre-made concentrate—if you don’t mind brewing a new batch every week or so.
It’s a little more involved than buying pre-made cold brew coffee concentrate, but it’s the ideal route for coffee connoisseurs. As for me? I’m pretty lazy, so I’m more than happy using pre-made concentrate.