Believe it or not, in the past decade of coffee drinking, this week marked the first time I'd ever ordered "cold brew" coffee. I used to have a roommate who raved about it on a regular basis, but I never felt compelled to check it out since I've always been more of an espresso girl. Lately, however, I'm finding I can hardly walk around a corner in this city without seeing some shop advertising cold brew coffee. This seeming to have replaced the iced coffee trend, and me trying to keep up with the ever-trending world of coffee, I figured it was time.
It seemed only fitting that the first cold brew coffee I tried should be the first cold brew coffee I'd heard about, so I trekked out to Maple Leaf and my old roommate's former haunt: Cafe Javasti. And there, dutifully, I ordered iced coffee.
Cafe Javasti, situated cater-corner to Kona Kitchen at the intersection of 5th and 85th, has a lot going for it. Family friendly, great art exhibits, and an extensive menu of house-made crepes are a few of the highlights, along with the fact that it is the only coffee shop in its vicinity. Javasti serves coffee from Batdorf & Bronson, a roaster in Olympia without many servers in the Seattle area. It was the first time I'd seen a shop using their coffee AND the first time I'd seriously tried cold brew coffee, so it's possible that two firsts in one tasting cancel each other out, but here's the assessment:
I don't get it.
Cold brewed coffee is precisely what it sounds like: coffee, brewed without hot water. Made by steeping grounds in water for several hours (various online resources recommend everything from 3 to 24), then straining the mixture with a fine sieve, it is probably the single most economical method of brewing coffee at home... all you need is a container with a lid, coarse ground coffee, water (ratio of 4:1), a separate container of similar size, and some method of straining the liquid out of the first container and into the second.
What I don't get is why everybody is so excited about it. Aside from the fact that it is supposed to be lower in acid, and thus better for your stomach, I have to say that I find it kind of boring. I like a well-balanced, mild coffee as well as the next person... but at this juncture, I consider cold brewed coffee to taste like a really good iced black tea that was accidentally poured into a glass which had coffee in it and didn't get properly rinsed. Not so much my idea of a fine beverage. Notes of chocolate and berry may appear with a lot of consideration, but I miss the element of aroma to a degree that makes drinking cold brew coffee a little tragic.
That said, I do like Javasti as a cafe, and recommend giving it a try. If somebody who is a cold brew connoisseur could hustle over there and let me know whether this is Where It's At or whether I should try again, elsewhere, that would be fantastic.
Meanwhile, all the rest of you, go enjoy that peerless pairing of coffee and crepes.