Rachel Dillon is the founder of Cold Brew Chick, an online resource and podcast about all things cold brew. Her passion for cold brew began out of desperation. She loved her morning coffee, but hated the acid reflex attacks that would soon attack her chest. A trendy drink started to pop up in my social media feed called “cold brew”, and after that first sip, she was hooked! Not only did it taste better than any coffee she had ever had, but she didn’t feel the desire to reach for the Tums. Cold Brew Chick is a place to learn more about this wonderful drink and be inspired from the people that are fueled by it. What started as a nutrition project at San Diego State has turned into my brand, blog, side hustle, and passion. Not a day goes by without a cold brew by my side!
In This Episode, You Will Learn:
- How Rachel got hooked on cold brew coffee.
- The difference between hot coffee, iced coffee, and cold brew.
- What you need to look for when shopping for cold brew at the grocery store or your favorite coffee shop.
My First Experience With Cold Brew!
Connect with Rachel and other links:
- Cold Brew Chick podcast
- Mostra Coffee (San Diego, CA)
- Modern Times Coffee
- Coffee Fest
My Episode on Soul Work with Adi Shakti:
- The Importance of Asking the Right Questions During Difficult Times – David Trotter (interviewed by Adi Shakti)
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Rachel, thanks so much for taking time to hang with me today.
Thanks for having me, David.
Alright, so let’s start with a tough question. I know this is not one that you’ve answered many times before but what exactly is cold brew and how is that different from iced coffee?
That is a tough question. Way to kick it off, David. So, cold brew and iced coffee, the biggest difference between the two is when we think of coffee, we think of espresso, hot brewed coffee and drip coffee. All of those coffees, including iced coffee, are brewed with hot water. So, hot water is what is extracting the caffeine and the flavor from the coffee beans. Where cold brew differs though is that we’re replacing the heat of that water with time. So, instead of using hot water, you either use cold or room temperature water. Then you steep that coffee in that water for anywhere from eight to twenty-four and sometimes forty-eight hours.
Because of that, the result is you are pulling different compounds from the coffee and then you’re also leaving certain compounds in the coffee as well. So, as an end result, cold brew has less acid in it which is why people like me that have acid reflux, can tolerate it better. Usually you get richer and more chocolatey notes in the cold brew versus iced coffee. It also lasts longer. So, when you have an iced coffee, it’s hot coffee that ice just got thrown into. When that happens, something called oxidation starts to happen and that’s when oxygen affects the flavor and the compounds of that coffee. When you have a cold brew, that doesn’t happen because the heat was never present. So, you can keep cold brew in the fridge from anywhere from two to three weeks. So, it has a longer shelf life as well.
Wow, I had no idea. That’s a long time. And the flavors don’t change over the course of that two to three weeks as much as hot coffee would?
Yeah, it’s crazy, right? The taste can still change a little bit because oxidation will still happen, it’s just not going to be to the extent of hot coffee. So, sometimes maybe in three weeks you might notice more chocolate or maybe you notice more blueberry. It will be very subtle, but it’s not going to be as drastic as if you kept an ice coffee in the fridge for even five days. You will definitely know it’s been in there for a while.
When did you become passionate about cold brew? How were you introduced to it and why did this capture your palate, so to speak?
I was always a hot coffee drinker. I didn’t drink coffee until I had a little change in college when I came back home and that’s when I discovered hot coffee. I started to drink whatever my parents made and I loved it. I just loved the taste of black coffee. I was happy to drink it black. I didn’t feel the need to explore the world of espresso or lattes and I just drank my black coffee. About two to three years later, I noticed I would get heartburn and acid reflux after I had hot coffee. It wouldn’t happen with anything else except hot coffee. I felt really bummed because obviously acid reflux isn’t good and I didn’t want to spend a lifetime having a relationship with a Tums bottle and having to take one anytime I had coffee. And then I loved coffee because I loved the taste and the caffeine. So, I was in this conundrum of, “What do I do?” Do I cut out something I love or do I just suffer through it?
Lucky for me, around this time the popularity of cold brew was really growing and it was at this point now that Starbucks was starting to serve it. You would find it in your grocery stores and more and more education was coming about it as well. So, when I heard that this was a lower acid product, I thought, “Oh, well maybe this is my solution.” I’ll never forget, I went to get my first cold brew at a shop called Wholesome Coffee in North Park, San Diego. I drank it and it was as if fireworks went off. It was incredible. Not only did it taste like the best coffee I’ve ever had, but when I was done, I felt great. I had no acid reflux whatsoever and it also had a little extra caffeine, so I felt a little more perky. I thought, “This is it. This is my solution.” Ever since then that’s all I drink.
Does all cold brew have more caffeine then hot brewed coffee?
It depends. There’s a little bit of a caffeine conundrum with cold brew because that was one of the marketing points for it very early on. There were claims that it was a smoother drink with less acid and it has more caffeine. That’s true and it’s also not true. It depends on a lot of factors. The problem is, because of all these factors it’s difficult to test the caffeine of cold brew. It’s expensive and you have to ship it off somewhere. So, most people don’t actually really know how much caffeine is in their product.
Some of the factors would be if it’s a lighter or darker roast. Lighter roast coffees tend to a little bit more higher in caffeine. If it’s an arabica or Robusta bean; arabica coffee beans are pretty much what we consume because they taste better but sometimes, you’ll get Robusta in a blend if it’s meant to be higher caffeine or if you take an instant coffee, that’s where you find the Robusta. How long it was steeped for is also a factor. If it was steeped for longer, sometimes it will pull out a little more caffeine. If they did a hot bloom makes a difference as well. Sometimes shops like to saturate the coffee grounds in hot water for anywhere from a couple seconds to five minutes and then they start the cold brew process. There’s debate on whether that’s truly cold brew or not, but if that happens, because that hot water was there, it will pull out a little bit more caffeine as well. On average though, per ounce cold brew is definitely up there as one of the higher caffeine coffee products. If you’re drinking an 8 to 16 ounce cold brew, it can be anywhere from 200 to 300 milligrams of caffeine.
Now you just mentioned that some coffee shops do the cold brewing process differently than others. Is there a standard way to do that that a coffee shop would have? Are all coffee shops the same in terms of cold brewing? Break it down for us, help us understand what’s going on behind the scenes there.
Actually, when I started Cold Brew Chick, education was my biggest thing. So, when I would go to all these shops in San Diego and drink their cold brew, I would ask people, “How do you make your cold brew?” “What beans do you use?” That really showed me what people are doing and how they’re making cold brew. From that I learned that for the most part, everybody makes cold brew the same way and there’s two main ways you can make it. There’s either what we call an emersion style or a drip style. Emersion is when you take the coffee grounds and put them in the water and they’re completely mixed together and you let them steep. How you do that? There’s different ways and Toddy would be the most popular, it’s also one of the cold brew makers that Starbucks uses. There’s also a company called Alto and they make bags that you can use, where you put the coffee in there and then you put it in water. That’s emersion style and that’s what most people do. Where it varies for shops is how long they do it for. Sometimes it’s eight and sometimes it’s forty-eight hours.
Every shop has their own idea of what is best for them. Also, the size of their coffee grounds makes a difference. Typically, with cold brew, you want a very course grind because the bigger the grind, the slower the extraction and since you’re extracting for a long amount of time, if you have these super, super fine particles, it’s going to extract very quickly and if you’re doing this for forty-eight hours, you’re going to have a very over-extracted coffee that may not taste the best. So, usually they’ll go with a courser, sometimes a little bit less course depending again on the shop. Then also getting back to that hot bloom, sometimes shops like to do that because they want to pull out more acidic notes, which by acidic, I don’t necessarily mean the acid but it’s more like the bright, floral and sometimes lemony notes in coffee. Hot bloom will pull some off those and again, sometimes the caffeine comes out a little bit more. So, sometimes shops will do that.
Just to recap, did you say that some shops take the ground up beans and put them in water without a bag? That’s one of the ways?
Yeah, depending on how they’re making it, let’s say for example they’re using the Toddy, which if you’ve ever seen a Toddy, it’s like a big bucket with a filter at the bottom. So, you would have your coffee grounds in there and you would pour some hot water over it where it would be just enough that all the grounds are saturated. You then let it bloom for however much time and afterwards you would add your cold water and start the process.
Okay, and then some people put the grounds in a bag, almost like a teabag?
Okay, great. So, that’s the emersion method? You’re baptizing the coffee?
Actually, that’s true. You really are, yeah. You could play some music. You can say a little prayer over it. It’s truly a moment.
Because of my spiritual background, I’m thinking, “Oh, my gosh.” You’re baptizing the coffee like a Baptist. Where the drip is like the mainline churches that are just dripping a little water on your forehead.
Except we don’t baptize people for eight hours, that would be rough. Emersion style is less common and that is just because the technology you use to do this can be a little bit more expensive. The drip style is where you have water that drips through the coffee grounds and then comes out at the bottom as the cold brew. The most popular and well know instrument used to do this is called the Kyoto drip tower and it actually came from Japan. Japan invented this creation and it’s this beautiful wood and glass tower. It’s a bit pricey, which is why not everyone does it but it’s really cool to look at. Essentially what happens is you have your water at the top and then you have this little cylinder where the water drips through. Literally drop, by drop, by drop. And then you have your cannister with your coffee grounds. The water drops through the coffee grounds and then at the bottom you’ll have a drop that’s now saturated. From there it goes through the cylinder into the collecting jar where the cold brew will be. That one takes less time depending on how fast you have your drops going. Sometimes people do one drop per second, sometimes it’s less, sometimes it’s more. That will determine how long it takes for the cold brew to be created. But on the average, it’s about around four to eight hours to make that happen.
One of the things that I read is that you found in your journey of coffee shops, that some coffee shops sell iced coffee as cold brew. Is that right?
Yes. Speaking of cardinal sins, this is what I believe is truly one of them.
Of course. How did you discover this? Just by asking? Or you tasted the difference?
Honestly, it was a combination of both. Anytime I go to a shop, ever since I started this, I always ask what beans they use and how they make it because I’m always trying to learn, right? I remember I’d go to a shop and I’d ask them about their process and they wouldn’t say it was an iced coffee, they would just explain their process or they would say, “Oh, it took us eight minutes to make it.” As I prodded a little bit more, I realized, “Wait a minute, this isn’t iced coffee then. It’s not a cold brew.” It’s an awkward situation because this is a coffee shop that’s clearly advertising it as a cold brew but upon my discovery, it’s an iced coffee. So, it’s hard for me because I don’t want to call them out and then be like, “Oh, well you know you should call that an iced coffee,” because I don’t want to be rude. But deep inside I’m crying because it’s like, “Oh, my goodness. You’re falsely advertising on behalf of cold brew.” There was also sometimes when I would taste it and it clearly did not taste like a cold brew. It tastes like an iced coffee. If you’ve ever tasted the difference between the two; cold brew is very smooth and iced coffee has a bite to it. That’s the best way I can describe it.
What’s also going on right now in the specialty coffee world is that some baristas and some coffee professionals do not like cold brew because it pulls more of the rich chocolate notes out of the coffee. Which I love and I know a lot of people do as well, but a lot of people like the more brighter and more acidic notes, which is also fine. That’s just a choice. So, what they’re doing instead of doing cold brew, they’re using a different method that’s better at pulling those notes out. They do what’s called a “flash brew” or better known as a Japanese flash brew and it looks like a pour over. If you’ve ever gotten a pour over or if you’ve ever seen what it looks like, you have your grounds at the top and then you have your collecting jar right at the bottom and there’s a filter in between. Then you see the barista pours the water in centripetal circles and the coffee drips into your collecting jar for you to drink. With a Japanese flash brew, you take away about half that water you would use to brew it and you replace it with ice cubes in that jar. And when you treat it like a pour over, you’re going to still pour the hot water but what happens is, as the coffee is brewed and it drips through the filter, it hits the ice cubes and it automatically chills the coffee. They taste good and I like them because they are a little bit different and they’re smoother than an ice coffee but the problem is again, people are doing this and calling it cold brew. My thing is, I’m fine with flash brews but call it a flash brew, don’t call it a cold brew.
Of course. These people, they’re killing the cold brew. Okay, so what about going to a grocery store? I know there are all types of brands but is there anything I need to be aware of when I’m trying to think about which one to choose from? Obviously, I can’t taste it before I buy it, so who knows if I’m going to like it or not? Help me understand that process.
There’s three things I would say to look for if you’re going to go buy a cold brew. It’s three questions you have to ask yourself and then look for when you’re shopping. The first one is, do you want a concentrate or do you want a ready to drink? The difference is a ready to drink is just that, it’s ready to drink. You can pop open the bottle cap and you can start drinking that cold brew. A concentrate however is a very concentrated form of cold brew that has to be diluted. I love concentrates because it gives you a bit more freedom. If you’re someone that likes a stronger coffee, you might buy a ready to drink and be a little bummed because it’s a little watered down for your taste. So, if you get a concentrate, you can add as much water as you want to your flavor preference. That’s definitely something you want to look for, because if you want a ready to drink and you accidently buy a concentrate, that could be a little rough. So, that’s the first thing you want to figure out. Do you want a ready to drink or a concentrate?
The next question to ask yourself is do you want a still cold brew or do you want a nitro cold brew? Nitro cold brew has really taken off in the past couple of years and now even Starbucks has made it an initiative to have nitro cold brew at every single one of their stores. I partied in my room when I heard that. I thought it was so cool. But if you’re not familiar with nitro cold brew, they take nitrogen gas and pressurize it into the cold brew. It’s then either poured from a tap or in this case you would pour it from the can. As a result, the way that the nitrogen is incorporated, it creates this foamy, creamy texture in the cold brew and it cascades without adding any calories, any sugar and any fat.
It’s just something that’s fun and different. I’m a huge fan of nitro and I love that technology has gotten to the point where if you go now to the grocery store and you buy it in a can, it’s great. It’s as if you’re getting it from a tap. You can see the cascade. You can see the foam head. It’s really cool. But not everybody likes that. Some people just want a still, black cold brew and I would say if you are someone that’s trying to buy a can and you’re going to drink it from the can, I wouldn’t go for a nitro. Because with a nitro, you want to pour it into a cup to activate the nitrogen process. If you’re going to go buy a cold brew and you’re going to be drinking from the bottle, go with a still. But if you have a cup and you want to experience that foaminess, go with the nitro.
The last thing that you want to look for is, do you want a black cold brew or do you want one that’s going to be sweetened or flavored or with milk? Now we have these two kinds of categories. We have the black cold brew and then we have the cold brews that either have sugar, or a little bit of cream or they might even have the draft latte styles. It’s really broadened and some people like me prefer black cold brew. I just usually go for that but if you’re someone who likes cream and sugar in your cold brew and maybe you want that, you want to look for that on the label. You might even want to look on the back for the nutrition facts and look at the ingredients to make sure that you know what’s in there. Sometimes labels can be a little deceiving and you’re not quite sure, “What is lightly sweetened? Is that a lot of sugar or a little sugar?” And what milk did they use? Is it a cow’s milk or is it a plant based milk? So, just take that extra time and look on the nutrition label to make sure all the ingredients are okay based on your current dietary habits. Those are the big three, whether you want a concentrate or ready to drink, still or nitro and then black or flavored.
What about canned versus bottled? Is there any difference or flavor difference in between those two no matter what you’re drinking?
I don’t think so. I would say, especially with nitro’s, I wouldn’t at this point buy a nitro in a bottle because the way that technology is. The nitro that comes in cans usually has a widget or something in there to help kick start the nitro process when you pour it out. So, I would say if you’re going for a nitro, go for a nitro can, don’t go for the bottle. You probably won’t get a very good cascade. But as far as bottled versus cans, it’s kind of your preference. I know glass is more environmentally friendly, so if that’s more your mindset, then go with the glass. It’s really up to you.
What about cold brewing at home? Do you do this at home yourself?
Oh, yeah. Everyday.
Every day, okay. So, tell me about the process and what are the options if I want to do this at home?
There’s a couple of things you can do. You can either buy a cold brew kit, which more and more companies are coming out with. That’s just going to be their coffee in a bag and then you put the bags in a either a pitcher or a glass container with some water and then just brew it at home. If you want to get creative and you want to get more specialized in your cold brew, you can buy coffee beans and then you can buy a cold brew kit on your own. There are so many out there now. In fact, I have a YouTube channel and there was a series I did all about reviewing cold brew makers because there are so many out there. And for me, taking a picture of a maker doesn’t do it justice. You have to see it being used, right? So, from that I’ve discovered there’s three main categories when it comes to cold brew makers.
You’ve also got the bags and there’s different bags that are out there. You have your emersion style, which we talked about where the coffee sits in the water. But you have these makers now where they have a filter that’s usually stainless steel. It goes into a pitcher and it has a pre-set ratio for you of how much water and coffee to use. Then you have these hybrid machines where you use a bag and emersion. So, an example of that would be the Toddy kit. That one is where you can use a paper bag to put your coffee in but you still have another filter at the bottom. Which one to pick if you want to pick one, is up to you. Do you want your cold brew process to be very simplified and you want something really easy? I would say go with the emersion style because that ratio is already determined for you and you literally put the coffee in that filter, you add your water and you’re done. It’s all in one piece. If you’re looking to be a little bit more creative and maybe you want to make bigger batches or you want to have that freedom of playing around with smaller batches for yourself or maybe making a big one for a party, I’d say go with the bags.
My personal favorite bag is Alto cold brew. I love it because it’s very easy to use. They have ratios for you depending on what size you get. And then the material, I’ve never, ever dealt with any sediment or any sludge in my cold brew, which can happen if you’re making it. They’re just fantastic because they have a great price point, they’re very cheap. They’re my absolute favorite to make cold brew. But granted, you’ve got to be a little bit creative because you have different sizes. You’ve got to know which size you want and then putting it in there to make the brew. I would say those are like the top three kits that are out there right now.
I’d really encourage people to watch your YouTube videos. I’ve watched a number of them and they’re super fun to watch and you’re showing the process, so it makes it very helpful. We’ll of course link to your YouTube channel in the show notes but people can just search “Cold Brew Chick” because there isn’t two of them, there’s only one on YouTube.
Okay, I know this is like asking who your favorite child is, but what are your favorite shops to purchase cold brew?
It’s funny that you say that because that’s usually what I tell people when they ask me. I say, “It’s like picking my favorite child.” It’s like you knew. That’s rough. I made a post about this recently, where it’s like, I have favorites and I have cold brews that have always stuck out to me for whatever the reason. The one that always stands out to me in my journey as Cold Brew Chick and every time I drink it, is from a shop here in San Diego. It’s in Rancho Bernardo, called Mostra Coffee and they have a cold brew that’s called One Brazilian Coconut. It was my first emersion cold brew and with the emersion process, when you’re doing the cold brew process, you add other ingredients as well. What they did is they added coconut. So, while the cold brew was steeping, the coconut was steeping with it. I had no idea that this could even happen in cold brew until I went and I visited their shop and they let me taste it. The first time I tried it, my mind was literally blown because it was so rich and decadent in that coconut flavor. I love coconut in coffee. It’s one of my favorite combinations and they just nailed it. It was so good and it had no extra calories or sugar or anything. It was just phenomenal and to this day it is one of my all-time favorite cold brews. Anytime I’m in the area, I go and grab one. In fact, I’m going to grab one today because I’m going to go up north and I’ll be going past them.
What’s the name of the shop again? Say it for me.
It’s Mostra Coffee. M-O-S-T-R-A.
Very cool, okay. We’ll make sure to link to that. And it’s called the one coconut?
One Brazilian Coconut.
Brazilian Coconut, okay.
Yeah, they call it that because the coffee used for it is a single origin Brazil.
Alright, I know it’s picking your favorite children. You just did it. You picked your favorite child.
Well it’s one of my favorites. One of them
How about a bottled or canned cold brew from a grocery store? Is there a particular grocery store that you find has a better selection? And is there a particular cold brew that you like more than others?
Honestly, at least in San Diego, the shop that always has the best selection is Whole Foods. They have their own literal cold brew section. They have a fridge and it’s huge, with just cold brew. It’s crazy. However, I know that’s not in everyone’s price point and even sometimes I’m like, “Ugh, six dollars for a cold brew? I can’t do that.” So, Ralphs, which I believe would be Kroger in the mid or East Coast; they have some great options. It’s a little bit more in the price point and they have some bigger, well-known names. As far as my favorite, that one’s even harder.
As far as nitro goes, I like Stumptown, which is like one of the OG’s when it comes to cold brew. They have a nitro cold brew called Hairbender that they came out with last year and it literally is a hair bender. It is so strong. Not only in caffeine, but in taste. I love it because it’s such a good wake-me-up. When I’ve had a long night or I have to get up early and I need that kick in the pants, that is the cold brew that I go to. As far as still cold brew, I’m going to cheat a little bit. It is a can of cold brew and it is in shops, but this is more of a San Diego exclusive. It’s Modern Times, they are a brewery here San Diego that has grown now to become a coffee roaster and seller. They are expanding, so if you live in Oregon or Northern California, you can purchase them. But they can cold brew and they are always canning new cold brews.
I feel like every month they’re releasing a new cold brew and they do really unique things with their cold brew as well. They’ll do what’s called “bourbon barrel aged” and that’s where you take coffee beans and you put them in a bourbon barrel and let them sit for an extended amount of time. The beans absorb some of the aromatics of the bourbon or sometimes it’s whiskey or whatever was in that barrel and that flavor will then transfer when you brew the coffee. So, the bourbon barrel cold brews have been fun and they’re always releasing ones but with different single origin coffees. They’re always highlighting blends and single origin and I love their cans. They always do a great job or making cold brew and I love picking up their latest can and seeing what they’ve done with cold brew.
Alright, awkward question moment. I’ve always got to ask one awkward question, Rachel.
I’m married, so this is not for me, okay? Do you happen to have a special someone in your life?
I do not, no.
Would you be open to dating someone who did not enjoy cold brew?
Well, my follow-up question would be, “Why?” Why don’t like they like cold brew? Is it because they like hot coffee? Is it because they’re one of those people that like flash brews? Do they not like coffee at all? That would be my follow up question because if they don’t like coffee at all, that could be rough. If it’s because they like hot coffee and they don’t like cold coffee, I could do that because we could still go to coffee shops and stuff. They just would order something else. If it’s because they like flash brew, then that’s a little bit more acceptable because maybe I can get them to like cold brew.
What if they only iced coffees that are sold as cold brews?
Why? Why would you? Why? I hope that’s not true. I hope someone’s not like that. But I mean, you know what? I should take that back because I’ve always told myself, not to judge. I’m also in the process of becoming a dietician and one of my core beliefs or values as a nutrition expert, is that I never judge people’s food choices. Everyone picks what they eat and picks what they drink for different reasons that we may never know. So, you know if someone enjoys iced coffees disguised as cold brews, I’m not going to judge them. You enjoy it.
You’re secretly judging. I know it. I can see it in your heart.
But I’m not saying it, so you’ll never know.
Okay, so you mentioned you are in the process of becoming a registered dietician. That is quite an amazing process and journey. I was stalking your LinkedIn and saw that you’ve done all of these internships at all of these amazing hospitals in San Diego. My first question is, are you close to being done?
That is still to be determined. I finish my internship here within a couple of days, but then the next step is you have to take the exam to actually get your credential. That is where I don’t know when I’m taking it yet. It’s a very tough. It’s this very hard exam and it’s based on a lot of things you wouldn’t think dieticians would need to know about. I don’t know when I’m going to take it yet. It depends on how much I study and when I feel ready. I may never feel ready, you know? So, I’m planning to take it by the end of the month because I’m very anxious to start working. But yes, the end is in sight.
Is there a section on coffee?
You know, there might be because I remember having this question about coffee in one of my exams in school and it asked, “Does dark roast or light roast coffee have more caffeine?” I was happy because I got it right. So, there could be. Who knows?
Speaking of caffeine, as someone who’s becoming a registered dietician, what do we need to know about caffeine? Is it a concern? Should we be aware of it? Or should we consume as much as possible?
I never promote that. I actually had a series I did last year, called Please Drink Responsibly. I had this same question myself and being around people in the coffee industry, I would see people downing coffee all day and I couldn’t help but think that it was so unhealthy. I kept thinking, “How are they doing that and being healthy? Are they healthy?” I didn’t know, so I took thirty days off of caffeine myself. I wanted to take a caffeine break and I wanted to learn more about the effects of caffeine. I explored decaf coffee as well, because I feel like that’s something that gets very poo-pooed on, like, “Ugh, it’s decaf.” But I just wanted to explore what was out there and I learned a lot. The biggest thing with caffeine is that it is far more individualized then I think we think it is. I spoke to a couple naturopathic doctors about this and their thing is for caffeine, it really depends on whether you’re a fast or a slow metabolizer. What that means is when we take caffeine, does your body utilize it really quickly or does it hang around a bit? The hard way to know if you are or not is to take a DNA test and find out. The easy way to know is to just look at your own caffeine intake and see what it does to you.
If you’re someone that can drink caffeine at nine o’clock at night and then go to sleep, you’re probably a fast metabolizer. If you’re someone like me, I’ve got to cut myself off by 3 p.m. otherwise I’m not sleeping well. That would mean you’re more of a slow metabolizer. Then you have those people that are very slow, where they have one cup and they’re jittery and it just doesn’t work for them. That’s how you can kind of gauge whether you’re a fast or a slow metabolizer. As far as the health benefits of caffeine, there’s been more in favor of caffeine than against caffeine when it comes to research studies. So, I would say if you are someone that enjoys the effects of caffeine and you don’t have any underlying issues that you feel would be disturbed it, I say go for it. There was study that came out recently that was saying, “You can drink twenty four cups of coffee and be fine.” I mean, even if that’s true, I probably wouldn’t do that just because if you’re drinking twenty four cups of coffee, then you’re not drinking water. You’re not drinking other liquids, right?
Plus, you’re just sitting in the bathroom all day.
Yeah, who wants to do that? My personal rule that I’ve set for myself is I have one cup of cold brew a day and I have it before 3 p.m. That’s just more for me to be safe and make sure I don’t overdose because I have experienced caffeine overdose before and it’s not pleasant. It’s also to make sure that I sleep at night, because I’m really big about sleep. I hate to say it depends on you, but it really does. It takes a little bit of experimentation for you and your caffeine tolerance to see where you stand.
It’s fascinating because I have friends like you that say, “Okay, yeah I can’t have caffeine after this time,” and I remember in college, I’d have a Mountain Dew right before bed. I’d literally drink it and then go to sleep and for whatever reason, it doesn’t seem to impact me as much.
I know you just got back from Coffee Fest in Indianapolis, is that right? And there’s another one in Los Angeles in August?
So, this will come out before that and I know the event isn’t necessarily open to the public, it’s for people who are in the coffee industry, is that correct?
Yes, it is.
What is it all about? Tell us about it.
Coffee Fest is a tradeshow for people that are in the coffee industry. They’re either a barista, a shop owner, a roaster or people that are thinking about becoming a barista, a shop owner or a roaster or people like me that do media about coffee or something coffee related. It’s just a gathering of people to learn and have some fun. There are classes every day. There are booths with different roasters and coffee shops and whatnot and then there’s competitions. Why I started going and the main reason I go is they have an America’s Best Cold Brew competition. They highlight thirty-two cold brews who compete against each other to take the title of America’s Best. They have a still category and then they have a nitro category. So, that’s where I actually had my first caffeine overdose. It was the first time I went to the competition. Day one, trying these thirty-two cold brews, I was not smart about it and it was very rough.
Were you a judge or just someone who was tasting?
I was just a spectator. The way that they do it is they have three judges that will anonymously blind test the cold brews and then you can walk down, they have a row with the competitors. You can walk down and taste them and there’s the ballot where you vote. So, yeah, the first time I was like, “Yeah! I’m voting,” and that’s when I drank too much.
What happened to you?
I felt light-headed. I almost felt like I was walking on the air and I don’t like that. I like to feel grounded. It felt like my heart was racing a little bit too fast and I felt hungry. I felt like I was starving and needed to eat, but my stomach felt full. It was a very uncomfortable feeling. I knew I needed to eat because I hadn’t eaten all day and I knew I needed to be drinking water but again, my stomach felt full because that’s one of the effects of caffeine. It’s an appetite suppressant. My stomach was saying, “No, nothing,” and I’m like, “Yes, I need to eat.” So, the combination of all those three was just very unpleasant and it didn’t go away for maybe two hours.
Oh, man. You learned your lesson.
I have learned since then, yes. I haven’t experienced that since that happened. But every day, it whittles down a little bit and by the end of the third day of the expo, you’re down to four stills and then four nitro’s who are competing for first, second and third. So, that’s always a lot of fun because it’s coffees from all over the nation and even here at the Indy one, it was actually a lot of people from the Mid-West. So, a lot of people from Indy, Chicago and Wisconsin, and I’d never tried cold brews from those areas before, so it was really cool to see what their cold brew philosophy is and what they did with their cold brew. The one in L.A. coming up will be a lot of people from San Diego, L.A., Washington, Portland and surrounding states. It’s always just a fun collaboration of coffee people and cold brews.
That’s great. We’ll make sure we link to Coffee Fest in L.A. as well, just so people can find out about that. If people want to connect with you, it’s www.coldbrewchick.com and you’re on Instagram and you’re on YouTube with some great videos and of course, last but not least, your podcast.
Tell me about your podcast. If somebody hasn’t listened, sell it to them right now.
The Cold Brew Chick Podcast was designed to highlight either fantastic cold brews or cold brews that are incredibly unique. I started this podcast because when I would go to the coffee shops to do my review and to check them out, I would sometimes be sitting there for an hour or an hour and a half, talking to the owner about their coffee and their journey and cold brew philosophies. I finally had this idea, “Why don’t I record these conversations and then share them? Because there has to be at least one other person out there that would find this as interesting as I do.”
So, that’s how that started and now, this Thursday is going to be fifty-two or fifty-three episodes, which to me it’s kind of crazy that I could come up with fifty-three episodes all on cold brew. But it’s still growing and it’s just really cool to see what people are doing with cold brew. Like I said there’s the emersion style that Mostra does but there’s so much more and right now I think we’re at the point with cold brew that we are beyond just the basic black and even nitro. We are expanding into other realms and other ways that cold brew could be used. For example, cold brew gummy bears are now a thing.
I saw that, and other food items even, correct?
Cold brew marshmallows are going to be coming out in a couple months. There are things you would have never thought would even exist that are happening. It’s crazy. I’m just grateful to be able to share these stories and these journeys and be along for the ride.
Alright, I have a coffee confession for you to end our time together. Are you ready?
I don’t know, am I?
You’re sitting down, so it should be okay. Number one, I’ve never tried a cold brew, ever. Gasp. Go ahead, gasp.
Okay. Nope, no gasping.
What do you think the percentage is of people who are coffee drinkers who have never tried a cold brew? What do you think the percentage is?
Wait, do you have it? Do you know what it is?
I don’t. I don’t actually, but I should. I’ll research it.
I would guess maybe 50%.
Because it’s a newer thing and a lot of people are obviously used to drinking coffee hot?
Yeah, that’s the thing, some people do not like cold coffee like my parents. I’ve tried so hard to get my parents to drink cold brew.
And they won’t go for it?
No, they just love hot coffee and the idea of drinking cold coffee, to them, is weird. So, it’s not even a cold brew thing. It’s just a cold coffee thing.
Yeah, it’s kind of a negative thing, “My coffee’s cold. I don’t want it to be cold.” Okay, so probably 50%, that’s pretty high. I will tell you, in my research for our conversation, I’m just super fascinated and I love learning from you. All of these different aspects, it’s so cool. Okay, so that’s confession number one. Confession number two, I have only tried coffee one time when I was twelve.
Okay, and I guess it didn’t end well?
I don’t know. I was just like, “I don’t think I’m into it.” I’ve never had coffee since then. Isn’t that crazy? The percentage of people like me has got to be super low. I will tell you though, I’m not into hot drinks. I was telling my family this last night at dinner, “I’m interviewing Rachel and I feel so bad. I’m learning all these things and I’ve never even had coffee.” But because I like cold drinks, I might try a cold brew. I might try it. My son’s sixteen, he loves them. I’ve never had them. I think I should try one. At least one.
Ooh, I will help you find the best one for you. We’ll talk.
Are there carbonated cold brews? The nitro sounds a little bit like that.
You don’t like carbonated cold brews? I can tell.
Here’s the thing with carbonation and coffee. I didn’t know this until I tried a carbonated cold brew but carbonation is CO2 gas and when you add CO2 to coffee, it does not end well. It does not have a good effect on coffee.
The flavor profile changes?
Yeah. So, once upon a time there were cold brew sodas on the market and I tried them very early on and I hated them. To me they were disgusting. I did not like them at all and they’re gone now. They’re off the shelves. So, there hasn’t been any cold brew soda for a while but very slowly I’ve seen and more shops offer different creations. So, one that I’ve seen is cold brew and cherry Coke and then they add a little sarsaparilla. It’s like when you put it that way, that sounds pretty good. I would try that.
That’s like adding a bunch of creamer to your coffee. People are like, “What are you doing? What are you doing to the coffee? You’re killing it.”
Yeah, it’s a little out there but I’m down to experiment and try it and I think that’s where they’re going to go. It’s more in the craft or almost mocktail creation arena. We might see a day where canned cold brew sodas come back but it’s just very tricky because again, that CO2 is not the best partner for cold brew.
I will sooth your soul in the fact that I don’t drink beer or wine either. It’s not a moral reason or something, I just never got into it. So, it’s not like I’m anti-coffee, I’m just pretty focused on Diet Dr. Pepper. I should make a dietdrpepperguy.com podcast. I don’t think they would let me.
Well, I mean, you never know. There are places in Asia and they always do really funky and fun sodas. I know they’re coming out with a coffee Coke. So, maybe they’re going to come out with a coffee Diet Dr. Pepper.
Well, I will tell you that the other day I interviewed a gal named Lindsey Elmore, she calls herself “The Pharmacist” and she is a pharmacist but she’s been completely consumed and focused just as much as you are about cold brew, with essential oils. It’s an obsession with essential oils and she actually did get me to buy some oils. So, you have that going for you. You’ve talked me into it. I’m going to try a cold brew.
Now I feel like the pressure is on me. I’ve got to find you the right one to make you like it. Oh, shoot.
I actually am going to San Diego for three days in the month of July. So, if you tell me, maybe I could try the single Brazilian coconut.
One Brazilian Coconut? Oh, I like this challenge. I’m going to do it. I’m going to find the best cold brew for you that’s going to make you fall in love. It’s going to happen.
Alright, I’ll drink it and then I’ll tell people at the end of this episode, what I thought of it.
Yes! Yes, I’m excited.
Rachel, I am inspired. One of the reasons I’m inspired by you is because this is a great example of how people can find their passion in anything. You’re going to be a dietician but this is part of your life and part of your passion. One of the things I love to do is help people find their passion and help them learn that it can be anything. You found your passion in cold brew. That sounds ridiculous to me, but when I talk to you, I’m thinking, “Yes! You are awesome. This is part of your purpose in life. This is part of your meaning.” You’re leading the charge in not only providing education but really more than education, you’re providing community. You’re helping people get connected to one another. You’re benefiting from the community of cold brew. Other people are benefiting from the community of cold brew and I think that’s really inspiring. So, as people that are listening that are thinking, “Well, what am I interested in?” “Oh, I’m interested in this particular type of flower,” or “This particular type of beer,” or “This particular thing in life,” if you’re interested in it, there are tons of other people that are interested in it and that’s a great way to create community and connection and life change and you’re doing that. So, I admire that. Great job.
Oh, thank you, David. Aww.
Okay, so we’ll promote you everywhere; www.coldbrewchick.com. Everybody’s got to go there and if you can’t remember that, like my producer, Kristin. I’m going to call her out right now, she kept calling you Cold Brew Gal and I’m Googling you and I’m thinking, “I don’t see a Cold Brew Gal. I see a Cold Brew Chick.” She goes, “Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s Cold Brew Chick.”
That’s funny because that was one of the names I was thinking about. When I was creating the name, I was very against Cold Brew Chick because I was convinced that people were going to hear “chick” and think of baby chickens. I was like, “I don’t want to be associated with baby chickens.” And so, I was like, “I can’t be Cold Brew Chick,” but then nothing else fit and Cold Brew Queen was taken, “I guess it’s Cold Brew Chick.”
I’m envisioning the cold brew process and you throw in coconuts; you just throw in baby chicks to spice up the brew.
That is one cold brew I would not drink.
“I’ve got a feather in my mouth.” Alright, Rachel, thanks so much for being with us.
Thanks for having me.