All summer long, sidewalk chalkboards everywhere seemed to advertise cold brew coffee. But to be honest, the cold-brew trend has puzzled me since day one. Isn’t it just, well, cold coffee? I looked into it and, as it happens, it’s a bit more than that. To start, a proper cold brew requires more coffee grounds than regular coffee. And to make it, baristas steep the grounds in cold or room-temperature water for several hours. Still, I couldn’t find one I liked. So this summer, I forced myself to guzzle back an enormous array of cold brews. I can’t say I fell in love with any of them, but, if you must join the cold-brew craze, here are my favourites.
Reunion Island Cold Brew & Tonic
In its Roncesvalles café, Reunion Island has set up a cool looking cold-brew tower that drips a tiny drop of coffee every second. The coffee is then steeped for six to eight hours and served with a bottle of Fever Tree tonic water, which blends well with the coffee. This refreshing beverage ended up being my go-to summer drink. I grabbed it every time I was in Roncesvalles to cool down.
385 Roncesvalles Ave, Toronto
Propeller Coffee Cold Brew
If you want cold brew with no filler, then try Propeller. It was, hands-down, my favourite and the first cold brew that made me appreciate the craft. Its complex, natural sweetness and caramel finish reminded me of coffee ice cream. You can get it bottled at the Bloordale café.
50 Wade Ave, Toronto
Early Bird Espresso Flash Brew
Technically, this one doesn’t qualify as cold brew, since it isn’t steeped. Instead, Early Bird brews hot coffee directly onto ice. The coffee chills instantly and produces a delicious drink, called aisu kohi in Japan, that recalls the fruity flavour of iced tea. The result is smooth and sweet. Don’t ruin this drink by adding milk or sugar, though. That will mask its complexity.
613 Queen St W, Toronto
If you enjoy cold brew, but don’t want to spend upwards of $5 on it, there are simple recipes online. Try this one.
Iman Abokor is an insurance defence lawyer at Lawson LLP and Precedent’s coffee columnist.