Iced coffee has long been a simple solution to getting a caffeine fix on a hot day. But for a while, it often meant simply pouring hot coffee over ice — resulting in a watery and bitter concoction. Recently, though, many cafes are getting creative with cold brew techniques — infusing this specific method with everything from hops to nitrogen, while experimenting with a range of brewing practices.
303 Magazine ventured from the RiNo Art District all the way to the University neighborhood, tasting cold coffee creations to provide you with the best options for something cool and caffeinated to enjoy on a hot summer day. Read on to get the low down on the most delicious and surprisingly innovative cold brews in town. In all likelihood, it’ll make you think twice the next time you go for something iced.
Metropolis Coffee – Kyoto Cold Brew
Where: Kyoto Cold Brew available at 1 S Broadway St. and 1661 Central St.
Neighborhood: Baker and LoHi
Metropolis Coffee went a completely new direction with its cold brew via the use of a Japanese slow drip system called a Kyoto tower. This contraption, which looks like something from a mad scientist’s lab, uses 3 liters of ice water and 300 grams of coffee for one batch. Then the cold brew is made as the water drips once every 2 or 3 seconds into the coffee grounds, slowly saturating it. The whole process takes around 12 to 15 hours and produces a cold brew coffee that isn’t a concentrate so no water needs to be added.
Barista Tom Segal explained that it’s a great drink on its own because it is a gentler extraction than the typical toddy method, where the coffee is fully immersed in the cold water. It draws less oils out and yields a sweeter result. Customers love not only this sweet and refreshing iced coffee but the set up as well. Often employees are frequently asked, “Do you actually use that thing?”
They sure do and the result is delicious.
Amethyst Coffee Co.- Multiple Roasts
Where: 1111 S Broadway St, Suite 101, Denver
Neighborhood: Golden Triangle
When: Sunday – Saturday, 7 a.m. – 4 p.m.
One of the exciting aspects of coffee is the opportunity to try the different roasts available. However, very rarely are these varied options all available as cold brews. At Amethyst Coffee Co., though, Owner Elle Taylor tries to provide as much variety as possible. Not only does Amethyst have single serving portions of various kinds of espresso so the baristas can make any espresso drink with any particular coffee roast, but it keeps multiple roasts hand as cold brew and rotates them as frequently as possible.
According to Taylor, Amethyst always has a traditional smooth and chocolaty option as well as a brighter or fruitier choice so customers can choose between two different styles at the very least. The shop usually has a cold brew cobbler as well which is Taylor’s play on a sherry cobbler, a drink typically made with sherry, simple syrup and a fruit garnish. At Amethyst, the sherry is substituted for cold brew concentrate, making for a sweet, fruity drink that is perfect to relax with on a particularly warm summer day. Also often available are cold brew shots which provide maximum caffeine at a minimum size for those customers running short on time.
Novo Coffee – Nitro-Infused Cold Brew
Where: Multiple Locations
Any self-respecting Denver coffee nut is familiar with Novo Coffee. Coffee from this local roaster can be found all over the Front Range, making it one of the few house-hold names for local coffees. But in addition to its wholesale, one of its most popular contributions to the Mile High coffee scene is its nitrogen-infused cold brew. For those unfamiliar with this technique, the cold brew coffee is served through a beer tap and infused with nitrogen which creates a creamy texture, comparable to that of a Guinness or any similar stout beer.
The nitrogen infused is just something extra added to a high quality coffee foundation. As Novo president and co-founder, Jake Brodsky, explained, “It’s not going to taste good unless there’s a good product… Starting with the right raw product is the first step.” Brodsky’s commitment to an impressive raw product takes him all over the world to visit the sources for Novo coffee. This commitment shines through every beverage made with their coffee, including its cold brew. As a result, Novo is a consistent spot for iced coffee junkies looking for what they know and love.
Corvus Coffee Roasters- Hopped Cold Brew
Where: 1740 S Broadway St, Denver
Neighborhood: Platt Park
When: Sunday – Saturday, 6:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
As one of the Denver cafes that led the cold brew revolution, Corvus has taken the comparison of nitro iced coffee to stout beers even further by creating hopped cold brew coffee that is made with actual dry hops. The comparison to beer ends there, as it is still a non-alcoholic drink, but the hops add a lovely citrusy-floral flavor that adds a new dimension to the single-origin cold brew (which is also available on its own).
Despite this innovation, Domenic Etre, Corvus Coffee’s director of new business, explains that they “try to keep everything as simple as possible; we don’t want to add any artificial ingredients.” That’s why its single origin is simply coffee and water, and hops are only added to the brew for the hopped cold brew. Corvus’ cold brew has become so popular that it is bottled and available in both Whole Foods and Safeway, and there’s also the option to have cold brew kegs installed in offices for truly committed fans.
As a continuation of its innovate practices, Corvus is looking to create a limited-edition whiskey cold brew made from coffee beans that will sit in whiskey barrels before being roasted, adding an oaky dimension to the flavor. The shop is currently experimenting with this method, and provided an exclusive first look to 303 Magazine, described by Brittany Werges here.
Bonus Choice: Boxcar Coffee Roasters
Where: The Source, 3350 Brighton Blvd, Denver
When: Sunday – Wednesday, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m., Thursday – Saturday, 8 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Technically, the iced coffee available at Boxcar Coffee Roasters, located in The Source in the RiNo district, isn’t a cold brew. The shop’s BottleRocket Iced Coffee is notable not only because of its superior taste, but also because of its unique brewing method. This coffee is brewed hot to maintain the familiar acidity and then quickly cooled as it is pumped through cold nitrogen tanks. The intention, says Production Lead Josh Hillman, is to minimize the amount of oxidation that occurs which can warp the flavor.
Despite it not being a cold brew, the unique process, though, is what garnered an inclusion on this list. Also, the flavor is excellent and maintains the acidity typical of hot coffee as well as a smooth chocolate finish of cold brew. Boxcar has capitalized on its success and hand-bottled this coffee, allowing it to be sold in restaurants or markets as well as easily taken to go by customers.
If customers are looking for Boxcar’s coffee roasts as typical cold brew, however, they can still get some at Steam Espresso Bar on South Pearl Street in Denver. This shop makes a simple and refreshing cold brew coffee that tastes smooth and chocolaty while still being satisfyingly strong.