A Brief History of Cold Brew Coffee

A Brief History of Cold Brew Coffee

These moments are in the past, but cold brew lives on!
by Maciej Kasperowicz | September 13, 2019

It may seem like cold brew has only recently taken over the world, but its origins are deeply rooted in coffee's broader history. As global trade circulated new commodities and ideas at the dawn of the Modern Era, cold brewing as a concept began to take root far beyond its point of origin in Japan.

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Cold brewing tea has been established in Japan by this point. Soaked in cool river water, tea leaves are saturated and left to brew.


Dutch coffee is a boiled-down concentrate that traders and sailors brought aboard ships in vats. This coffee didn’t need dangerous fire to enjoy and it could be bottled and sold at port.


Soon after the Dutch bring their concentrate over, coffee gains popularity and the Japanese develop their own brewing methods. In Kyoto, they use cold tea brewing techniques for their coffee (tower and tubes utilize gravity for a hands-off approach) and voíla, cold brew coffee!


In wartime, Camp Coffee is bottled and sent to the European troops. Similar to Dutch coffee, this concentrate is made by boiling off excess water.


In Mazagran, a French-occupied region of Algeria, sweetened coffee syrup combined with cold spring water is a popular drink to counteract the desert heat. When soldiers returned to Paris, cafés began serving mazagran with milk, lemon, or rum.

1920s - 1950s

In Cuba, cold brewed coffee concentrate gets a makeover. Cuban cold brew is made with extremely fine grounds that are repeatedly saturated with cold water before draining.

Iced drinks continue gaining popularity around the globe too. In New Orleans, cost-saving chicory root is added to the coffee before grinding. While adding flavor, chicory root also cuts the coffee, making it last longer. This trick started in Napolean-era France, but lives on as an American favorite.


American Todd Simpson, a man of many trades, travels to Peru in 1964 to study the flora. While there, he witnessed cold brewed coffee that was then heated before serving. Simpson loved the light acidity of the drink and wanted a way to enjoy it in his own home. He came back to the US and invented the Toddy.


Vending machines open Japan to a slew of drinkable possibilities. Wielding a brilliant ad campaign and canned coffee, Ueshima Coffee Co. single handedly makes prepackaged, canned coffee a staple in Japan.


One Seattle second wave coffee house develops a coffee concentrate for their blended coffee drinks and other coffee shops begin following suit.


When café staff complained about the taxing nature of prepping cold brew every night in a Filtron, Stumptown founder Duane Sorenson has a brilliant idea! Inspired by beer stubbies, Stumptown puts their spin on cold brew with pull-tab caps — much to the delight of customers and baristas alike.


Cold brew becomes accessible nationwide, from third wave coffee shops to the corner store. With our craft roasters at the forefront, cold brew history continues to be made — from precision-blending for taste, CBD-infusions, and beer-canning techniques.


Cold brew comes full circle. Taking inspiration once again from tea brewing methods, our Cold Brew Bags make at-home brewing as simple as whipping up your favorite mug of Earl Grey.

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