November 26, 2018

Crash Brew better than Cold Brew

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It snowed early. And then it got very very cold. And Boston says: give me an iced.

The first winter we operated our food truck I was shocked how many people ordered iced coffee off a truck in freezing temperatures. This is Boston. We love our iced coffee. And honestly getting iced coffee right has been one of our largest coffee challenges at Clover. We LOVE the pour over method we use for iced coffee (sometimes called Japanese Method). I’m not sure if anybody else in Boston does it this way, but it’s so so good. Now we’re offering that same approach on tap. We’re calling it Crash Brew Iced Coffee.

We ditched cold brew and went to crash brewing our iced coffee (the Japanese method). I played with cold brew back in 2009. We sold it on our trucks in 2009, 2010, and when we launched Clover Harvard Square in 2011 we sold it there too. Then I decided all the cold brew was tasting the same, and the novelty ran off for me. There are some persistent paper-y tones to cold brew. Turns out this is the result of the fact that hot brewed coffee has many flavor compounds that simply don’t make it into cold brew. As cold brew never brings any heat to the beans many compounds are never extracted from the coffee, in particular the flavorful oils. Instead water soluble elements of the coffee are over-extracted. As a result cold brew sort of tastes the same regardless of underlying bean (bad for farmers and customers who enjoy flavor). Crash brew on the other hand is more expressive, and if done carefully a better balanced and more craveable cup.

For crash brew you brew a more concentrated coffee over ice. The coffee goes from hot to cold very very fast. The idea is that you avoid oxidation and other loss of flavor that could result from slower cooling. The final cup is beautiful. This is Clover Iced Coffee.

Some of you may have enjoyed the Chicory Cold Brew we ran last year. But not enough of you. I’m a chicory fan myself. But the sales never took off as I’d hoped. So we went back to the drawing board and figured out how to crash brew batches of coffee (brewing hot concentrated coffee onto ice instead of cold brew). We keg it with Nitrogen not to make it bubbly but to preserve the flavor. The result is a coffee you can pull from a tap that tastes unbelievably fresh and nuanced. Extra bonus? We can sell it for less. The Nitrogen in the Chicory Cold Brew was super expensive and kept the price of that product higher than we would have liked. The new Crash Brew is much less expensive. Yeah!

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