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How did cold brew become so popular?

In the last couple of years, the cold brew trend has exploded! 

The history of cold brew goes way back, but the trend had its real breakthrough in 2015. Between 2015 and 2018, the cold brew sales have increased from $8.28 million to $38 million (according to The trend is still going strong, and most coffee shops offer at least some variants of cold brew, and the cold brew coffee makers are selling like butter on sites like Amazon.


Why is this happening, and where is the trend going?


The history of cold brew coffee 

Cold brew has a shorter history than many other coffee brewing technics, but not so short as many would think. Cold brew coffee, also known as Kyoto coffee, has been a popular brewing method in Japan since the 1600s (The Guardian).


The brewing method used in Japan is not the same used in most American coffee shops. In the western world, the method would be to blend cold water and coffee ground and letting it sit for 12-24hrs. The technique used in Japan is different. They use a drip technique where water will slowly drip into coffee and then go through a filter. The dripping process is just as slow as the western technique, but the taste is slightly different.


One of the first Americans who in 1964 started to experiment with cold brewing was Todd Simpson, who invented the Toddy Cold Brew System. Toddy is still one of the most popular cold brewing systems, and their products are used in both coffee shops and by cold brew lovers in their homes all around the world. 


So cold brew has been a thing for a while, why has the trend exploded the last couple of years?



Why did the cold brew trend explode in popularity?

Even though cold brew has been around for a while, it got its huge breakthrough when Starbucks rolled out the drink in 2800 stores. This happened March 31, 2015, and since then, they have rolled out a handful of different cold brew drinks. For example, the salt foam cold brew and the cascara cold foam cold brew



Since 2015 a lot of big companies have jumped on the trend, and you can find cold brew almost everywhere. Not only in your favorite coffee shop, but also in places like Dunkin Donuts and McDonald’s.


One of the bigger trends around cold brew is brewing it yourself. It is pretty easy, and the taste is amazing! Brewing your own cold brew is not only easy, but it is also much much cheaper than if you would buy drink ready cold brew. Even if you use freshly roasted whole beans of the highest quality, it will be much cheaper than going to a coffee shop.


People are interested in cold brew, not only to buy it but also to make it and learn new recipes. Here is a picture of the googling trends since 2004. If you compare this September (2019) with 2004, 2005, or even 2009, the percentage who googled for “Cold Brew Coffee” has increased with 3500% (!?!).



Another aspect of cold brew coffee becoming so popular is the social part. You often drink coffee with friends, family, or your partner. So when you order cold brew and your friends who never heard about it see it, they want to taste it. Therefore the trend spreads.

As always, with new trends, the early birds jump on the train, and it takes time before the other joins. The masses are coming, but the early birds go first.

This is how cold brew became so popular, much because of Starbucks but also because of the pioneers like Todd Simpson and all the early birds.


Cold brew coffee is nothing new, and we know that the Japanese used this method already it the 1600s. However, the trend has really exploded in the last couple of years. Much because of Starbucks but also because of coffee pioneers, early birds, and the social aspect of coffee.


The trend is still snowballing, and we have seen an enormous growth that most likely will just keep going.


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Thank you for reading!


Written by Anton

If you like what you read, go to the blog for more posts by Anton and other authors. 

“I am one of the persons behind DripBeans, which we started because we were tired of coffee being boring and snobby. Coffee should be fun and exciting. If you are like me you love cold brew and want to be a part of a great community where we share recipes, thought and happiness. That is what DripBeans is trying to do!”

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