A good cold brew is truly one of life’s greatest pleasures. Smooth, rich, and easy-to-enjoy versions are best in black—It can be said that it is worthy Price (usually about $4 for 16 oz. cup). However, cold brew is not a specialized product–At least not more. Once the domain of only more specialty coffee shops, such as Stumptown or Intelligentsia, the name–and fermentation process–of cold brew has been adopted by the likes of Dunkin’ Donuts, Tim Hortonss, of course, Another multinational coffee chain. You can also get it from the beverage section of your grocery store, with prepackaged or canned options from brands like Grady’s, Stok, and Starbucks.
But how similar are these packaged products to their coffee shop counterparts?
Cold drink bought in the store versus cold drink in the coffee shop
Of course, there are some obvious differences: while the cold brew in a café is always served black and unsweetened by default, store-bought versions are often tampered with in some way. With sugar, flavorings, dairy products or plant-based milk. Prices vary greatly, too: a 48-ounce bottle of Stok cold brew costs between $5 and $6 at stores like Target or Walmart, while a single 8-ounce bottle of Grady’s or undiluted Stumptown cold brew can cost up to $4 at Whole Foods or your local market.
But what about the taste? While many people–Like writer Jesse Hirsch, who explained via email, stocks are more or less anything cheaper–Prioritizing value over quality, others consider the taste of a store-bought cold brew to be a major sticking point.
Store qualityRegular cold brew consumer Amanda Reese said by email: “Cold brews made in coffee shops usually have more complex flavor notes, asA purchased cold brew is almost always one-flavored.
Good cold drink vs. bad cold drink
While a good cold drink is worth a higher price, a bad cold drink can be too–Well, very harsh.
“Drinking whiskey from a dirty shoe is what I think of as a bad cold brew,” said Gina Gotthelf, director of national wholesale education at Counter Culture Coffee, based in North Carolina. This is often the result of oxidation, Gotthelf explained–Basically, “from old age”.
“The worst cold brews I’ve tried are usually like very old coffee tastes, or tastes earthy in the worst way,” said Reese.
which – which”whiskey from dirty shoes However, the flavor may not be the brand’s fault. “You can buy a cold drink that started great,” Gotthelf said, but it’s still on the shelves after its sell-by date.
every tIs the ways can cold brew purchased from the store get bad
Even if you buy it before the sale date, there are plenty of chances that something could go wrong. How, for example, does coffee actually reach the store?
Refrigerated transportation can be very expensive, according to Bob Pellegrino, a postdoctoral fellow at the Monel Chemical Sciences Center, as well as a former consultant to a coffee company. This means many companies are pulling out (Blue Bottle Coffee stated in an email that its retail cold brew products are already shipped in refrigerated trucks).
Pellegrino explained that the reason you find cold brew products in the refrigeration department of the store is because Not necessarily to prevent damage but Often to give the impression that the products are fresher. Depending on the packaging, many of these products are shelf-stable, Like those produced by the coffee brand Cafe Grumpy, which come in Tetra Pak containers. “No need to refrigerate until opened,” said Caroline Bell, co-owner and CEO of Cafe Grumpy.
However, the way the products are stored may still affect the taste. “I think they’re probably in boxes in high temperatures inside a truck, going across the country,” Pellegrino said. “This will change the flavor profile.”
Pellegrino pointed out other stages in the lifespan of a cold brew where something can go wrong, such as the amount of time it spends on the shelf (also mentioned by Gotthelf); the quality of the coffee beans themselves; And whether the stabilizers–Additives that preserve the texture of the product–They have been added. Then there is the issue of pasteurization.
“Anyone who does bottling is definitely pasteurizing,” Pellegrino said. Pasteurization sure A change in flavor” (Blue Bottle also stated that it does not pasteurize its cold drinks).
The grinding and fermentation process can also change depending on the size, he said. Large coffee companies such as Starbucks may brew cold brew under vacuum pressure, which can reduce 16 to 18 hours of cold fermentation until halved, As well as changing the taste of the final product.
Reasons to get a store-bought cold brew anyway
With all that said, one advantage of store-bought cold brew products is their ease of access: They’re often the best, if not the only, option for your cold brew if you’re preparing to get 5 a.M. A flight, or you have one minute left of your lunch break before heading back to the office. And if you find a good sale–Or you buy from a local surplus store like Hirsch–It could be much cheaper.
“Three dollars a bottle can’t be messed with,” Hirsch said.