Confessions of a Cold Brew Coffee Addict
My $3.75 per day habit: Cartel's cold brew.
I wake up every morning around 7 a.m., albeit begrudgingly. Sometimes I hit the snooze until 7:30, but eventually I pry myself out of bed and get ready. Everything's hazy and grey until I pop into Cartel downtown on my way to work to get my morning cold brew. Everyone comments on how Cartel's baristas are snooty, but they always greet me with a smile, usually pouring my 16 ounce cold brew coffee before I even ask for it. It's like Cheers, but with beverages that make me productive.
See also: 10 Best Coffee Houses in Metro Phoenix
I don't know everything there is to know about coffee, but I love it -- which is why I'm excited to be writing Chow Bella's newest column, Grind.
Like so many others, I foolishly began my coffee education in high school with Starbucks Frappuccinos (I know), then I graduated to Gold Bar Espresso's dirty chai, but it wasn't until freshman year at ASU that I found Cartel -- and cold brew coffee.
Since then, I've been to pretty much every coffee shop in town, trying cappuccinos and velvets and honey vanilla lattes and Americanos and even Jobot's sunrise, which is a surprisingly tasty combo of a shot of hot espresso mixed with cold orange juice.
In the end, I always end up back at Cartel for the cold brew.
As far as I'm concerned, it's magic, which is basically just my way of saying science that makes me really happy. The science behind it is cold brew is less acidic with more caffeine than its hot brewed counterparts, which is good for folks with heartburn and good for people like me who like to get uncomfortably caffeinated. If I could mainline cold brew, I would.
But then I'd be missing the best part of cold brew -- the flavor. Since it's never exposed to harsh heat, cold brew is less bitter than drip coffee or espresso drinks. Some mornings my cold brew has caramely and nutty notes, other mornings it's roasty and chocolately, and one time I swear to god it tasted like whiskey--that was a good morning. I never know exactly what I'll taste in my cold brew, and that's what makes it a drink I can drink every day and not get bored.
Honestly, it's just nice to know that on those hot summer days I can get a coffee drink that was made to be drank cold, not just poured over ice like some after thought. Does anyone else think iced lattes shouldn't even be called lattes because they're missing that trademark smooth and frothy foam? But I digress.
There are a few different ways to make cold brew, some involving soaking cheese cloth like bags full of coffee grounds in water overnight and others requiring a Toddy or other cold brew system. I honestly don't really care how you make it, so long as there's plenty. And you can ask those Cartel baristas about the shocked and heart broken look on my face the day that they ran out because they definitely got a kick out of it.
I usually buy my cold brew from Cartel for $3.75 for 16 ounces, available at the Tempe, Phoenix, and Scottsdale locations. You can also buy cold brew from Lola Coffee's new midtown spot at The Yard, brewed with a Japanese Oji cold brew system for $3.25 for the same size. Or you could just go absolutely crazy and never sleep again by going to Press Coffee and ordering a whopping 32 ounces for $4.50. However, next week I'll show you how to make your own cold brew at home with just a few easy steps and some time.
1 N. 1st St.
Phoenix, AZ 85004
7124 E. 5th Ave.
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Phoenix dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.