The coffee industry wisely invented cold brew — and coffee industry, Phoenix is here to thank you. Now we know we can get our caffeine fix without having to throw back a hot drink or sacrificing quality. The simple definition of the process is this: cold brew is brewed with water that's at room temperature or colder for anywhere from 12 to 24 hours. Not to be confused with iced coffee, which is just hot coffee on ice, cold brew is always intended to be served cold. These five places in the Valley serve up their very own blends designed to keep you energized, refreshed, and cold during these triple-digit temperature days.
Mama's Cold Brew
Phoenix mother of four children Jennifer Rzepecki was searching for a coffee that energized her and tasted great. When she couldn't find one she liked, she made her own. Rzepecki experimented with different brew methods and spices in her own kitchen, and started serving cold brew coffee over ice with handcrafted organic creamers to a mom's group at Scottsdale Bible Church. Her coffee was a hit, and Mama's Cold Brew was born in March 2014. It's now brewed in a commercial kitchen downtown. Rzepecki brews a proprietary spice blend into the coffee itself. The spice blend is a secret, but you might taste "hints of cinnamon and nutmeg," director of PR for the company Michelle Fortin told us in an e-mail. The coffee and creamers are made with an organic base and don't contain preservatives. Because of this, it's recommended that you consume Mama's Cold Brew within a few days after opening. You can pair your plain Mama's Cold Brew with creamers designed to complement the cold brew in flavors like signature sweet cream vanilla, Nutella, pumpkin spice, and salted caramel. Mama's has no brick and mortar space, but you can find it at a variety of retailers, including Phoenix's Chestnut Fine Foods and Provisions, Scottsdale's Sorso Wine Room and Gilbert's Waffle Love and a variety of farmers markets all over town. For a complete list, visit this link. For more information, visit Mama's Cold Brew's website.
Sweetz Cold Brew in Gilbert
Husband and wife team Emily and Aaron Barton are behind the custom cold brew served at Gilbert's Sweetz Cold Brew. True to its name, Sweetz offers "sweeter" cold brew variations like German chocolate cake, dirty chai, and vanilla. They use a custom blend of beans from a local roaster, grind them daily, soak the beans in filtered water for a specific amount of time, and then drain them to get the chocolate and nutty flavors to really come out. After brewing, the Bartons blend the coffee with syrup. Although Sweetz has a set menu, guests are welcome to ask for custom drinks. Emily told us in a text that one popular option is "German chocolate cake with toasted marshmallow — so literally anything is possible." Don't think that these have to be sugar bombs, either. Sweetz stocks many sugar-free syrups. For more information, visit Sweetz Cold Brew's website.
Royal Coffee Bar
Royal Coffee Bar's cold brew is a blend of Tanzania and Chiapas, Mexico, beans. Those beans are then steeped in water for 22 hours, which creates "a smooth and chocolaty coffee beverage ... best on ice," says owner and roaster Hector Ruiz. According to Ruiz, Royal's cold brew is the local chain's best seller. Ruiz personally makes small batches of 15 gallons at a time every three days to keep it consistent and fresh — and smooth. For more information, visit Royal Coffee Bar's website.
Cartel started cold brewing back in 2008, just one year after the coffee business was founded. The local chain uses reverse osmosis water that is calibrated specifically for cold brewing. The custom filtration method helps create the "perfect" consistency, according to Paul Haworth, director of coffee production for the company. The cold brew is brewed for 24 hours to achieve the ideal best taste.
"Our cold brew is not ‘room temperature’ brewed or ‘hot brewed,' and then chilled. We brew at a precise temperature, which is much lower than what others call ‘cold brew.' We have found that this, though more costly, is what brings out such an intense natural sweetness and full body," according to Haworth. For more information, visit Cartel's website.
Served at both the restaurant Vovomeena and in a tiny outpost facing the street in downtown Phoenix at 111 West Monroe Street, Mornin' Moonshine is brewed using a Japanese cold-brewing method. If you visit the Monroe location, you'll spot the bright yellow containers up high on shelves that hold water that drips down and through the coffee grounds into carafes that hold the cold brew. What makes this cold brew stand out is the flavors offered. Guests can select from options ranging from cocoa nib/vanilla to PB&J and Almond Joy, all listed on a chalkboard. The lavender/Earl Grey combo that we tried was subtle, without being too overpowering — no easy feat considering that some flavored cold brew coffees can be cloying. For more information, visit Mornin' Moonshine's website.