Cold Brew Coffee – A Brief History

Cold Brew History. What's the deal?

As we know, Cold Brew Coffee is all the rage right now. If it wasn’t, there’s a solid chance that NuRange Coffee wouldn’t be here today. Cold brew has been the fastest growing coffee segment in the United States for the last decade. But before 2010, it wasn’t really on anyone’s radar. So where did this trend come from? How did it blow up so fast? Has anyone been doing this before us? What happened to flight MH370? We’re not quite sure, but let’s dive into some cold brew history.

Dutch, But Not really

First, there are two schools of thought as to who invented the cold brew coffee. While not documented, there are stories passed down of Dutch traders who would cold brew both tea and coffee as it was seen as a way to preserve the beverages on long shipping routes. Outside of this, there is not much information available from the Dutch, so we’re largely ignoring their contributions, so we’re personally going with option number two.

Arigatou mas

Much like anime, karaoke, instant ramen and street wear, cold brew coffee is believed to have started in Japan. Does this make the Japanese the trendiest people on Earth? Is there anything that hasn’t started there? The first documented use of cold water to brew coffee comes from the 1600s in Kyoto, Japan.

Kyoto-style coffee, named for it’s popularity in the Japanese city of Kyoto, is a very specific style of cold brewing. It has become increasingly artistic throughout the years. As with all other Japanese things, it is unnecessarily elegant. To brew one cup of coffee, a single drop of water is released through a tower of coffee grounds, making a cup of coffee drop by drop.

Coming To America

Todd Simpson was a garden nursery owner from Texas on a plant-gathering trip in Guatemala in the 1960’s. While he was there, he noticed that the locals enjoyed an extremely strong version of coffee concentrate. The concentrate, brewed with cold water, was so delicious that he began to study it. He learned the process while down there and took it back with him stateside. He noticed that the brewing process created a coffee with 67% less acid that was easier on people’s stomachs. Less acid meant that people would probably like it more. That’s a guess on our part, but are we really wrong?

Birth Of the Modern Cold Brew

In his garage he created the Toddy Cold Brew System, a modernized version of what the Guatemalans had taught him. While the product was brewed cold, it was the finished product was served hot. However, he noticed that people also enjoyed the product served cold.

Utilizing the Toddy System, cold brew slowly grew in popularity throughout Texas and eventually the greater United States as the third wave of coffee hit. Cold brewed coffee holds up much better than hot brewed coffee, the science of which we covered in our post What’s Different About Cold Brew Coffee? As people looked to buy a ready-to-drink coffee from grocery stores, cold brew coffee absolutely BLEW UP.

In Conclusion

Now cold brew coffee is everywhere. If you’ve read our blogs up to this point (admit it, you haven’t), we’ve echoed that about one hundred times so far. There have been thousands of variations to his original brewing method and finished product, and thousands more to come. It’s crazy to think that without that trip to Guatemala, we may not have this booming industry here in the United States. So, pour out your next NuRange Cold Brew Coffee for our boy Todd Simpson. He’s the real OG in cold brew history.