Top: Relentless Roasters, Miami, FL
Left: River Coyote, Manhattan, NY
Right: Snowing in Space, Charlottesville, VA
Cafe or Bar...or Both
Looking at the pictures of the places above, it's hard to tell whether they are bars or cafes. The popularity of draft and nitro cold brew is causing cafe/coffee culture to converge with bar/drinking culture. Cafes are starting to shift towards offering coffee cocktails and mocktails, while bars are adding an additional tap to serve cold brew. Cold brew has several advantages over hot brew that caused this.
- Cold brew can be made in advance and is more stable than hot brew.
- Cold brew can be safely bottled or served from taps.
- Cold brew concentrates perform better in cocktails than hot brew.
Cold brew has one more huge advantage.
Back in 2012, when I was just beginning to experiment with Kyoto, I was a waiter at Next Restaurant in Chicago. We served espresso drinks from a single group machine that was great for home use. But it was just too under-powered for a busy restaurant. At my suggestion, the restaurant also served Kyoto Style cold brew from Passion House Coffee Roasters. We prided ourselves on our service, and one important point of service was to serve all guests at a table together. This meant that if a table of four all wanted cappuccinos, we had to make them all, one at a time, and serve them to the guests together.
As you can imagine, the 4th cappuccino was beautiful, while the other 3 withered and died on the pass, waiting to be delivered to our guests. On the fly, I came up with a solution to this. Mix the milk with cold brew and steam the two together. Sure you don't get art, but what you do get are four quality, hot and virtually identical latte-esque drinks. People loved it. As did the staff. There was no fussing about with dialing in a grinder, cleaning the grounds and we only had to train staff on milk steaming. Cold brew was a great substitute for espresso in making lattes
Don't get me wrong, I love espresso, there's no better way to drink coffee in my opinion. However, once more places realize that cold brew is versatile to make just about any coffee drink you can imagine, you will see a lot of cafes with no espresso machines. In it's place, they might have two steam wands and cold brew on draft.