In November 2013, I was invited by F4 Consulting to be part of a special group of people to partake in some information and tasting on cold drip coffee. The tasting was sponsored by Dare (of iced coffee fame), and led by Matt Perger, a World Barista Championship finalist (top 3) and #1 Australian National Champion (as well as Dare’s ambassador). The premises that hosted the event was Palomino Espresso. Neil Cairns, its owner, was most welcoming.
For those who are reading this, you may or may not have had cold drip (aka cold brew/cold pressed) coffee before, though it is likely you’ve seen it before. Maybe this post will convince you to at least give it a try 🙂
Location: Palomino Espresso
I actually had some hesitation in putting this post up, because one of the agendas of the event was to promote a new line of bottled cold drip coffees that Dare has released into the market. I had no problems with that, as I maintain impartiality through my usual disclaimer. What did unexpectedly happen a week or two after the event was that the product line got recalled. If you didn’t click through the link – basically, the bottles are pressurised to seal in the flavour and maintain the texture of the coffee, but had a risk of exploding if mishandled.
Whoa, glad that didn’t happen at the tasting; small chance were it to happen in any case.
So yeah, I was a little on the fence about posting this up, but I decided to go ahead anyway (after a “short” saunter to Europe), as cold drip coffee itself deserves some more explanation.
The invited group was pretty small – about 5-6 people in total. Palomino is a cosy cafe, so that was appropriate I think. There was some bruschetta and salmon-cheese-on-crackers prepared by the cafe staff for us, which of course, taste great. I’ve been to Palomino before on normal visits (post here), so do give them a visit (massive segue much).
So, onto cold drip. You may have seen machines like this at most cafes you visit these days. They all have varying looks for style, but all have the same purpose and function.
Essentially, cold drip/brew/pressed coffee is the process where ground coffee beans are steeped in room-temperature (or even chilled) water for a long period of time. Yep, it’s as simple as that. The resulting liquid can basically be thought of as concentrated coffee. Its strength, acidity and flavour profile can vary greatly depending on how long its steeped for. Usually it’s 12 hours or more – Palomino does theirs overnight, then performs a 30/70 concentrate/water dilution to serve the final product.
How is it served? Well, that’s up to you – straight on the rocks is the preferred way during summer. In fact, I personally think that the raison d’être of cold drip is to deliver a coffee hit in summer without the heat of an espresso. That said, you could serve it as an iced coffee (note iced coffee and cold drip are not the same), or even hot, but that kinda ruins the point of it.
The above picture is actually taken at the cafe Something For Jess, as I forgot to take a photo of cold drip shots served at Palomino. It is something you can expect when you order cold drip at your regular cafe.
What of the taste? It’s naturally sweeter as it is less acidic. Why is this?
The beans in cold drip never get the heat treatment as they would with an espresso blast, and thus a very different flavour profile is obtained as a result. As usual, to each their own, and many end up saturating their relatively more acidic espressos with heaps of sugar anyway.
Now for Dare’s involvement. I’m pretty sure you can’t get these (as I’ve received no news that they’re back on the market), but I will talk about them anyway.
There’s two flavours here – Strong Dark Roast, and Classic Full Bodied. The former is naturally higher in concentrate, while the latter is slightly sweeter. The defining feature of these coffees, unlike others you buy bottled is that they’re made with completely natural ingredients. Yes, the skeptic in you has just turned on, but I scoured the ingredient label, and you legit do not see any of those dreaded 3-digit numbers which indicated artificial materials.
It’s literally just coffee, sugar.
The full bodied is the fan favourite, as it’s lighter. I prefer the dark roast as I always order extra strong (double) lattes anyway. Fuller flavours for me!
It actually sucks that they got recalled, because they really do taste quite good.
Now for a bit of an aside – one doesn’t get to meet a world champion-ranked barista every day. I asked Matt what the whole deal was with ranking baristas in a competition setting. He said that you had 800 points (to lose!), of which they judge you on everything – technique, efficiency, and the “sensory” experience. 5 drinks are made – 4 coffee types, and one “signature drink”. Matt’s signature had 5 types of beans. Yeah I’m not even going to try. It’s serious business though, no joke – check out their two scoresheets (#1 & #2).
Personally, a little bit over the top and nerdy for me, but man, not if you’re passionate about your brew. If you’re ever in St Ali in Melbourne, widely hailed as the producer of the best coffee in Australia, and amongst the world even, drop by and have a brew that may never be bested 😛
Thanks to F4 Consulting, Neil Cairns, Dare & Matt Perger for making all of this happen. It was a very unique and insightful experience!
As usual, feel free to leave a comment or three for this rather special experience 😀