First of all, I apologize for adding to the tiresome coldbrew debate; but recent experiences led to contemplation, so, dammit, I must.
a brief anecdote
We run “Japanese” iced coffee at Pavement year-round. Bostonians love iced coffee and we sell a lot of it. We have also regularly run special coldbrew offerings in the summer each year, and that has been very popular as well.
When considering whether or not to offer coldbrew again this summer, I was in the unusual position of never having been responsible for making coldbrew in the past. I didn’t know our recipe or methods, and I decided to keep it that way.
I started with what seemed like a pretty reasonable brew ratio and a 12 hour steep time (which made for pretty boring coffee, and a pretty boring post) and dialed in from there over about a month. By the time I settled on a recipe, I had a very high brew ratio and time; the best brews were 110g/L and 24 hours at room temperature.
Most interesting of all, my recipe turned out to be nearly the same as the old Pavement recipe, which was (less coincidentally) pretty much “Cambridge” coldbrew.
coldbrew and espresso
Point 1: coldbrew can’t really be judged with the same criteria we use to evaluate regular ol’ brewed coffee. It’s just a different thing. Like espresso, cold brew breaks the rules we’ve established for brewed coffee (appropriate brew ratio, time, temperature, pressure). Also like espresso, cold brew can be tasty.
Point 2: It’s simply a matter of establishing practices and standards that result in delicious extractions of coffee. That’s all. Espresso breaks the rules established for brewed coffee, but we have done the work of laying out practices that result in tasty extractions. Some of us have done some of that work with coldbrew as well. Some of us would like to keep working at it, too.
Is most coldbrew out there disappointing? Yes. So is most coffee.