Coffee is akin to water for some and as essential for survival as oxygen, so as we move into the sweltering summer months, what other options are available if you can’t handle a hot coffee?

Say hello to cold press and cold drip coffee, both offered at various venues and cafes around town and a trend that is starting to take hold in the sunshine state.

So what’s the difference between the two? We chatted to a few coffee aficionados about cold press and cold drip coffee to see if this is a trend that will stick around and how to find an excellent bottled brew in Brisbane.

Catherine Mills from Nessum Dorma Coffee Roasters breaks it down like this: “Cold drip, cold brew and cold press coffee are more or less the same thing, however slight variations in techniques, equipment and roasters will produce a slightly different end product. Cold drip is a slow extraction using cold water which can take up to 24 hours. This produces a naturally sweeter coffee low in acidity and extremely refreshing on the palate. It can be served black, or with milk and sugar as desired.”

Cold press describes the brew method where you place a filter inside a container, saturate with water and leave for up for 24 hours. Essentially it’s like a giant tea bag that steeps for hours, extracting the coffee. It is a product that is made in large volume, usually mixed with milk and heavily sweetened. It’s also very strong, with a high caffeine content.

Kurtis Tupangaia from Bear Bones Espresso in Fortitude Valley explains: “As it’s a cold method of extracting coffee, there are different flavour profiles as opposed to the flavours extracted when using hot water. But it really depends as everyone does it slightly differently. You just have to find the flavour that you like.”

Larry from Benchmark Coldpress Coffee thinks the reason the popularity is increasing is simple. “It’s because Queensland is hot! As more people are getting into real hot coffee, the trend is naturally spreading to cold coffee as well. I was told once in the early days of developing Benchmark, that Icebreak outsold Coke for five months of the year. That’s a big market.”

Catherine Mills from Nessum Dorma agrees. “Without a doubt the warmer weather has been the strongest contributing factor in cold drip sales and requests. But Brisbane’s increasing coffee culture also plays a big part. Consumers are becoming more discerning and don’t just want any old coffee hit in the morning, they want to be informed about what they are drinking and what flavours they should expect to experience.”

Dimitrios Piliouras, aka the Artisan Coffee Roaster, shared his opinion with us and explained the history of the process. “Living in hot climates, Queensland being a perfect example, a cold brew is a refreshing way to indulge in our much-loved elixir of life — coffee.

“All the craze in the west in the last few years, this method has been popular in Japan since the 1600s. Unlike espresso which was invented to ‘extract’ coffee goodness in the quickest way (30 seconds to be exact) by running pressurised hot water through fine coffee grounds, cold press is a prolonged steeping process that is prepared by course ground roasted coffee being allowed to leach into cold filtered water so that typically between 15-21 hours (depending on the single origin roast or coffee blend you use), you are left with a cold brewed coffee concentrate.”

So why bother to wait that long? Because it’s all about the flavour. When using an espresso machine for coffee, it enhances the more complex flavours of each coffee to be recognised along with bitter and acidity palate profiles in your coffee. So instead, cold brewing coffee gives a more mellow or sweeter profile with less acidic properties which is often easier to drink.

Dimitrios’ recommendation of how best to serve? “Take your filtered concentrate and either have it as a chilled black beverage with added water or on the rocks. You could also enjoy a 50/50 mix with your favourite milk (full cream, skim, Zymil, soy or almond). You can also sweeten with sugar, panela or honey.”

Blaine Swanborough from Wolff Coffee Roasters explains his take on what cold drip coffee is. “This is a gravity brew, meaning cold water drips onto a bed of coffee. Depending on the size of the batch, this process can take a couple of hours to a full day.”

Larry from Benchmark added some extra information about the difference between cold press and drip and how this impacts the flavours. “Cold press coffee uses the full immersion method of brewing where as cold drip uses a typical drip method. The drip method tends to give more clarity and acidity versus the full immersion method giving a fuller flavour with more depth.”

There is debate about whether there is actually a higher caffeine content in cold drip/cold press and there are valid arguments from both sides. Both Kurtis and Blaine acknowledged that they feel the effects of caffeine more when drinking these types of coffees and this is why the final product usually has water or milk added.

Even though there is a definite upward swing in the popularity of cold press/ cold drip coffee, it seems some baristas and appreciators of coffee steer clear.

As Blaine describes it, “It’s like having an Ice Break but made with good quality coffee which, in our climate, is probably an option that many people would enjoy. But for the true lovers of coffee, this is a beverage that may be too diluted and sweetened for you to taste the subtle flavours of the beans.”

But we are of the opinion that coffee in any form can never be a bad thing, and Larry points out that you just need to trust your tastebuds when choosing a brand of cold press.

Catherine Mills thinks that consistency is key. “Consistency is something we feel very strongly about at Nessun Dorma Coffee Roasters and we believe is crucial when delivering a delicious product every time. Our head roaster Leone Gibbons-Holmes ensures our coffee profiles remain unchanged and are followed with accuracy and precision. Her background as a pharmacist provides a great basis for roasting, understanding the science of the craft of coffee roasting is something that sets us apart from other roasters in the market.”

Larry’s company Benchmark also do a number of things to make their product unique. “We source the beans from two farms on opposite ends of the world, who we have worked with to not only find the right flavour, but ensure that the coffee is sustainable. All of this coffee is then roasted with a combination of computer control and human input that gives us the perfect balance between quality and consistency. And then the coffee is ground and brewed over 24 hours in a custom-built brewing system developed in conjunction with one of the world’s best cold coffee brewing companies.”

Of course, it’s not just the cafe scene that’s getting chillier, as Catherine explains. “Cold drip has become popular not just in the café environment but also the bar scene. Nessun Dorma recently partnered with Hive Café on James Street for a coffee appreciation and degustation breakfast where we featured five different coffees with various brew methods. Our Kenyan Fortuna cold drip appeared on the menu and our Espresso Martini also utilised the same cold drip extraction method to create a coffee-infused vodka, which was used as the base of the cocktail!”

What do you think? Will you be switching to cold press coffee in summer? Let us know in the comments below!