Cold brew is unlike any other type of coffee. It’s smooth, it’s approachable, and it’s extremely versatile.
Since it’s made in the form of a concentrate, you actually have a lot of flexibility when it comes to making drinks with it, since the flavors can be tasted even when you mix the concentrate with other liquids.
I want to help you make the most out of your cold brewing experience, so I’m going to show you the five primary ways you can use your concentrate to make a variety of fun, refreshing, and creative coffee drinks.
Let’s see them!
1. Iced Coffee (Of Course)
Let’s get the most obvious example out of the way immediately: iced coffee. You take a few ounces of cold brew concentrate, cut with some cold water, top with ice, and you’re done.
It’s simple, refreshing, and stunningly smooth. There’s a reason so many coffee skeptics actually fall in love with iced cold brew.
If you want, you can top with a splash of cream or add in some chocolate syrup for a slightly sweeter experience.
2. Hot Coffee
Unbeknownst to many, you can actually make hot coffee using cold brew concentrate.
The idea is simply to top off a couple ounces of concentrate with boiling hot water. This heats up the concentrate and gives you a warm, but not scalding, mug.
To maximize heat, brew your cold brew a strong concentration so that, when it’s time to mix with hot water, you can use as much hot water as possible. For example, two ounces of cold concentrate and six ounces of hot water will end up hotter than four ounces of concentrate and four ounces of water.
Hot cold brew coffee is actually extremely convenient if you’re low on time in the mornings. Just make a big batch of cold brew over the weekend, then each morning you simply warm up water in a kettle and mix your brew. It’s quicker than making coffee fresh each morning but still delicious.
As far as flavors go, hot cold brew coffee is a little different—not everyone will love it.
Cold brewing produces up to 66% less acidity and bitterness, so you shouldn’t expect the hot mug to have that usual punch that fresh coffee has. It’ll be smooth and sweet, but it won’t have that usual tang or those lower deep flavor notes.
3. Cold Brew Soda
Sometimes iced coffee just doesn’t sound quite right. Thankfully, there’s a bubbly and often more refreshing alternative: cold brew soda.
Here’s what you need for the most basic form of this cold brew drink:
- 2oz Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate
- 8oz Soda Water
- 1oz Simple Syrup
Just mix it all up and enjoy when it’s warm outside.
Of course, you can easily customize your soda using flavor syrups or other inserts. Muddle a couple fresh mint leaves at the bottom of the glass or squeeze some fresh lemon juice into the soda for some extra citrus tang. You have a lot of flexibility here, so get creative!
I personally love the peaches and cream cold brew soda. You can read about it, as well as other fun customizations, in this blog.
4. Cold Brew Mocktails
Now we’re really getting into the fun stuff. Because cold brew is generally so smooth, you can mix it with a whole slew of other ingredients to create interesting and unique mocktail-type drinks.
This style of drink has been made popular by the “signature beverage” round found in the world’s series of Barista Competitions. Many competitors come up with wild concoctions that can include incredible ingredients like dry ice, raspberry ganache, and single-estate chocolate.
But you don’t have to go all mad scientist to enjoy a good cold brew mocktail—you just have to get a little creative.
One of my favorite cold brew mocktails is the Cold Brew Sour, a drink of my own creation:
- 2oz Cold Brew
- Juice of ½ Lemon
- 1oz Simple Syrup
- Lemon Twist Garnish
It’s been a hit at my former coffee shop ever since its release! You can read about the Cold Brew Sour and four other creative drinks in this blog on cold brew coffee mocktails.
5. Cold Brew Cocktails
Cocktails are a different breed of creative drinks. Balancing sweet, sour, spice, and spirit is a special kind of craft—and a fun one at that.
For years there have been a handful of popular coffee cocktails, like the espresso martini and Irish coffee, but recent years have seen a giant push in this arena.
Thanks to things like the Coffee And Good Spirits Competition, there are now dozens of stellar cold brew coffee cocktail recipes online to draw inspiration from. Nearly every major classic cocktail has a coffee-fied version.
Craft yourself a cold brew coffee negroni when you’re interested in something complex with a bite. Go with a cold brew hot toddy when you need to warm up but need a boost. There are a lot of options here, and you can read about some of them in this blog on cold brew coffee cocktails.
There’s a huge realm of opportunity and discovery awaiting cold brew coffee lovers who are willing to think a little outside the box. The iced coffee’s incredible—but there’s still so much more to enjoy about cold brew.
What’s your favorite way to get creative with cold brew coffee? Drop us a line with your favorite recipe!Oh, and make sure you’re using freshly roasted, specialty-grade coffee beans—otherwise your cold brew will just be bitter and won’t really jive with these creative uses.