So far, Step 1 and Step 2 only address drinks with coffee and water. A good start for sure, but cold brew is a versatile drink and a great starting point for a variety of craft beverages. Just as espresso is combined with milk and a variety of flavorings (mocha, vanilla, etc) and presentations (latte art), so too should cold brew.
The easiest first step in craft cold brew drinks is using many of the same simple syrups and adapting their recipes and ratios for cold brew. Simple syrups are prepared mixtures of sugar, water and a variety of other ingredients to add sweetness and outside flavors to any drink. Cold brew coffee can be combined with a mocha or vanilla simple syrup that the shop already has lying around if the ratios are right. This type of drink is called a cold brew mocktail. They are prepared similar to a mixed drink prepared at a bar, usually with ice and often shaken or stirred to completely mix the ingredients.
Another thing to consider adding to cold brew mocktails are bitters. Bitters were originally alcoholic but are widely available in non-alcoholic forms and add a touch of bitter, sour or bitter-sweet flavors to the mocktail. They also come in a variety of flavors and give the drink a great deal of complexity with just a few drops.
To finish off a cold brew mocktail, consider adding a garnish that reflects the nature of the drink. A mint leaf for a cold brew mojito or an orange peel for a cold brew old fashioned adds the perfect finishing touch to a carefully prepared mocktail. In this way, shops can use many of the ingredients that they currently have at hand to create and offer new and exciting drinks to their customers. Since these craft cold brew mocktails are being mixed in front of the customer and and served with a bit of style, they also command more attention and a higher price point than a simple pour of cold brew. This would be specialty cold brew’s equivalent to a carefully prepared pour over or a well-executed latte art.
It can be difficult for shops to maintain large menus but these craft cold brew drinks can also be rotated out seasonally. Maybe mint in the spring, old fashioned over summer, fall spice in fall and mint in winter. This keeps the menu small and the customers excited for their next concoction. Stay tuned as we gather and share some of our favorite cold brew mocktail recipes.
While not possible in most coffee shops, alcohol can be added to many of these mocktails to create wonderfully original cocktails. Very few bars currently serve craft cold brew drinks but the opportunity is there. Coffee-flavored liqueurs can be found in every bar and a key ingredient to a variety of drinks: irish coffee, espresso martini, white russian, mudslide, etc. Adding cold brew to the menu can open up an even wide array of bourbon, whisky and rum based drinks.
Cold brew floats are another great idea for any shop that currently serves or would consider serving affagados. The idea with all of these suggestions is to begin to think of all the ingredients currently in the shop and reimagine how they can be incorporated into a cold brew based drink. Most specialty coffee shops have a half dozen filter coffee options and another dozen espresso-based options but only offer a single item when it comes to cold brew. It is time to look for opportunities to expand the category of craft cold brew and take its place alongside filter coffee and espresso in specialty coffee.