The hottest trend in Kansas City coffee shops is ice cold.
Cold brew coffee — made by steeping coarse-ground beans in cold water for several hours — has become increasingly common on local drink menus. The drink has a smoother flavor and lower acidity than coffee brewed with hot water. It’s also versatile: You can sip cold brew coffee straight up, over ice, in a cocktail, or mix it with water or milk.
To quench the growing thirst for cold brew, a handful of local coffee shops have started bottling the drink. PT’s at the Crossroads, 310 Southwest Blvd., recently started selling its popular Cold Front coffee in 12-ounce bottles for $3.75. The drink is a signature PT’s blend with a rich, chocolate-y flavor that was created with cold brew in mind. Pour the coffee over ice and top with a splash of milk for a mocha-like concoction.
PT’s is also experimenting with Kyoto-style cold brew. The Japanese method requires a glass tower that looks like it was borrowed from a chemistry lab. The tower uses gravity to brew coffee one drop at a time. During the 6- to 8-hour process, water trickles down from a tank through coffee grounds and a coiled glass tube. Manager Austin Averill says the Kyoto method has a lower yield than traditional cold brew methods but teases out more subtle flavors from the roasted beans.
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PT’s Kyoto-style cold brew ($4.50 per 12-ounce bottle) is always made with single-origin coffee; the current selection is grown on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi and tastes like “baker’s chocolate, grapefruit and maple syrup,” Averill says.
If you like your coffee on the bitter side, try the Hop! Toddy at Oddly Correct, 3940 Main St. The refreshing cold brew is infused with Simcoe hops — flowers that give IPA beer its citrus-y, pine flavor — and served in a 12-ounce bottle in a hand-printed paper bag. Hop! Toddy is alcohol-free, but it looks just like a beer: When I took one to work, several co-workers stopped to ask if I were drinking on the job.
Alchemy Coffee & Bake House, 1901 Massachusetts St. in Lawrence, also produces coffee that looks like that other kind of brew. Owner Benjamin Farmer sells kegs of nitrogen-infused cold brew coffee flavored with orange peel or vanilla bean to Lawrence businesses such as The Summit gym and The Burger Stand at The Casbah. The draft coffee has tiny bubbles and a foamy white head, much like a Guinness.
Last fall, Farmer’s cold brew operation spilled out of his 450-square-foot coffee shop and into a warehouse in north Lawrence. There he constructed a custom Kyoto-style cold brew system with the capacity to produce 120 gallons a day. Alchemy Coffee also sells 32-ounce growlers of cold brew concentrate and 10.7-ounce bottles of chocolate coffee drinks. The drinks are stocked in the refrigerated section at Lawrence stores such as The Merc Co-Op and come in two flavors: Milk chocolate made with chocolate milk from Hildebrand Farms Dairy in Junction City, Kan., and dark chocolate made with almond milk.
Farmer uses Ethiopian coffee beans roasted by Kansas City’s Messenger Coffee to make his perfect-for-summer cold brew, which has a tart, fruity flavor like blueberries.
One More Cup, 7408 Wornall Road, doesn’t bottle its cold brew, but the Waldo coffee shop has come up with some creative ways to serve it. The Cali Cola ($3) amps up the caffeine in a Mexican Coke with a shot of coffee, and the Mocha Toddy ($3.75 for a 16-ounce cup) mixes in Shatto Milk Co.’s chocolate milk.
Owner Stacy Neff says One More Cup has tried cold brewing several coffees, and the customer favorite is The Roasterie’s organic Guatemalan, which is light, sweet and chocolate-y.
At Thou Mayest Coffee Roasters, 419 E. 18th St., the go-to cold brew coffee hails from Brazil. It adds nutty flavor to the bar’s White Russian cocktails and will give you a major caffeine buzz if you order it without ice. Owner Bo Nelson says his shop’s silky smooth cold brew has become popular with customers because it lacks the acidic bite of hot coffee, and is gentler on the stomach.
“I tell people who don’t like hot brew to give cold brew a try,” Nelson says.
Torn Label Brewing Co., which debuted in the east Crossroads late last year, uses Thou Mayest’s cold brew as an ingredient in its best-selling beer, House Brew. The coffee wheat stout is available on tap at several Kansas City bars, including Thou Mayest. The coffee shop is working on bottling its cold brew and selling it under the name Slow Brew.
“Our tagline is ‘Take ’er easy,’” Nelson says.