Cold drip vs cold brew - what's the difference?


From ristrettos to macchiatos and everything in between, our strong coffee culture means Kiwis are spoilt for choice at even the most basic cafes. Add in a bevvy of specialty milks and the possible combinations are almost endless. As if that wasn’t enough options, meet the latest evolution of the coffee industry: alternative brew coffee.

Coffee is no longer just about the caffeine hit. For many, going out for coffee is now all about the sensory experience and appreciation of quality craftsmanship. Increasingly, cafes are exploring and perfecting alternative coffee brewing methods in order to attract new customers, and keep things exciting for existing customers.

Cold drip and cold brew are among the hottest trends in alternative brewing right now and are a great way to add a new element to your standard coffee offering.

Both styles are coffee, both are served cold, and both are delicious. So, how different can they be?

Cold drip is a slow-brew method of producing a full-bodied, non-acidic cup, perfect for the coffee connoisseur. It is brewed in an apparatus that looks like it belongs more in a science lab than a coffee shop. Water is set to drip ever so slowly from the top chamber onto the coffee below. Every drop of water is absorbed by the ground coffee until it can't take anymore and begins to drip into the bottom chamber.

A full batch of cold drip can take anywhere from 3 to 24 hours, depending on the size of the machine. Cold drip coffee can last at least a day in the fridge without losing quality or flavour.

Crafting cold brew, on the other hand, is far less visually appealing. As glamorous as it may sound, cold brew is actually brewed in a 'bucket'. A precise ratio of coarsely ground coffee to filtered water is fully immersed and left to steep for a minimum of 12 hours, either in or out of the fridge. As the grounds slowly extract all of their goodness, the liquor becomes a syrupy, full-bodied brew with about one-third the acidity levels of hot brewed coffee. It is then filtered through a sieve or cloth to remove the coffee grinds.

Cold brew is often used as a base for iced coffees, paired with an endless combination of syrups, spices, powders and milks that are sure to suit any flavour preference.