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Coffee concentrate offers an alternative to regular cold brew for those looking for something different

Although cold brew popularity has been rising for many years, for some people, cold brew can be disappointing. This could be down to the presence of grassy notes that indicate the presence of chlorogenic acids from an under-developed light roast, or a woody taste that indicates a stale coffee. Either way, some people just don’t get it.

But that’s about to change.

Cold brew concentrate

Liquid coffee is not new. It’s been available since the 1970s. What is different now, is that the coffee does not get deconstructed at the brewing process with the extraction of flavours and re-introduced later to the liquid. The cold brew or brewing process in this case is just direct extraction of coffee solubles from the grounds into the water and then packed fresh for use. The shelf life might not be as long as those of big commercials whose products can stay frozen for up to 1 year before use.

The artisanal brewing of cold coffee in current times uses specialty grade coffees that bring out the subtle sweet and fruity or floral notes from the coffee fruit. Yes, coffee is a fruit first, and we are using its seed (for the benefit of the non-initiated). It is this aspect of using specialty quality coffee that sets it apart from the mass commercial liquid coffee product. It can’t be stressed enough that the proof is in its taste.

For those who may not appreciate the taste of regular cold brew, coffee concentrate could be the answer. The taste is pleasantly mildly citric, not the type of overly acidic coffee that makes your mouth cringe and pucker. It has a surprisingly smooth, rich body. If the ice melts, the coffee’s body will remain syrupy enough without tasting watery. The coffee tastes great from start to finish!

Coffee concentrate generally does not boast of super floral or fruity notes from those exotic single origin coffees from the likes of Ethiopia or Panama, where specific varietals like Gesha or Yellow Bourbon or Red Catuai are touted. Nor do you generally hear or read a bout special processing methods when it comes to coffee concentrate. So, without the usual markers around coffee storytelling, how can a consumer appreciate a good cold coffee form concentrate? Well, the answer in this case is simple: the end product and importantly, how it’s served.

Aside from the taste, one of the key benefits to coffee concentrate is how quickly it can be made and served. In some cases, a customer can have their order in under 2 minutes. It’s dispensed from a font at the press of a button with a pre-programmed dose.

The system is called POUR’D from Marco Beverage Systems. There is no brewing process on site. The coffee is pre-brewed. Yet, it tastes fresh and pleasant, and consistently so. There is minimal onsite human interference. Could this be the future of coffee service?

Coffee roasters concentrate

Imagine coffee roasters incorporating coffee concentrate brewing facilities within their plants; they essentially become the wine makers of coffee.

The roasters are the best people to lead this initiative as they are responsible for ensuring the raw green coffee is roasted to the degree most suitable for an espresso, or milk-based coffee, or simply for filter, served hot or cold.

They would be able to ensure that the coffee is brewed right, at the plant with all the parameters under strict control, along with all the necessary hygiene processes n place for packaging and distribution. They can deliver both dry and liquid coffee to their customers and ensure they have a complete coffee solution. Finally, they remove the risk of inconsistencies of cold brewing onsite due to differences in skill levels of the barista.

These include varying dosages of coffee used, different water temperature or quality, different performance of brewing machines, etc. Basically, all the problems that plague the many cafes or restaurant chains when they are trying to establish a consistent product and experience across all their stores, especially when their food and ambiance or theme and customer service is the main star and not coffee.

How inconsistent coffee-making can be is further highlighted by all the Barista competitions, which clearly demonstrate that one day a competitor can rank top, and the next day, due to their nerves or preparatory work, can drop to second or third place. If anything, the competitions serve to highlight the challenges and problems of making coffee on site consistently well.

Even world champions can falter from one day to the next, not to mention an average daily wage casual barista.The POUR’D system from Marco Beverage Systems is a disruptor to the coffee industry. How? It provides the artisanal roasters the ability to manufacture and serve their product straight to the end-consumer, tasting as it was intended by the roasters. Essentially, the roasters become a step closer to becoming like the winemakers.

How baristas can work with concentrate

So, if roasters decide to brew their coffee concentrate in a central location, how does this impact the barista and how can they engage more in the process or develop their careers? One option would be to move upstream and work in the roastery to assist and use their know-how in sensory and brewing parameters to achieve what the product should taste for their target customers.

The baristas also focus more on being creative, creating new coffee-based beverages to help the cafes refresh their menus. It would also free up the barista to spend more time interacting with the consumer, educating, selling and developing better relationships with the customers.

With this, roasters become more like wine makers, while baristas become more like wine sommeliers, where the communication of knowledge of the product, its origin, sensory and pairing or blending is more important than making coffee on site. Definitely, something to think about in the coming future as labour shortages and high wages, and running costs encumber the high-risk food and beverage restaurant retail businesses.

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