Cold-drip brew steeps into the mainstream

Japanese influence: Andrew Carter prepares cold-drip brews at Bean Drinking.
Japanese influence: Andrew Carter prepares cold-drip brews at Bean Drinking. Photo: Tamara Dean

For coffee connoisseurs, the thought that their caffeine hit will take anything between three and 24 hours to brew is a bit of a mind jolt.

That's about how long it takes to produce a cup of salvation using the cold-drip method, the coffeehouse equivalent of a seriously caffeinated high school science lab experiment. Cold-drip, pour-over, AeroPress, plunger, siphon - the lexicon used by coffee drinkers is ever expanding.

Bean Drinking, an award-winning Crows Nest-based micro-roaster and espresso bar, is among the scientists popularising the new brewing techniques across Sydney.

Chief barista Andrew Carter said the cold-drip method was a delicate three-hour operation , although others stretch out the brewing time to more than 24 hours.

It is a Japanese-styled iced-coffee that first began appearing in Australia three years ago.

Everyone thinks the history of coffee is wrapped around an Italian espresso machine. However, Japan has a coffee culture that goes back to the 1600s - and many hip coffee houses are turning to Japan and South Korea for inspiration.

The coffee is brewed in three chambers vertically arranged in a tower to deliver the end product. Some Japanese towers can be 1.5 metres tall.

Mr Carter said they poured room-temperature water into the top chamber each day. The water drips slowly on to lightly roasted coffee grounds in the middle chamber. The coffee filters to the bottom where an almost viscous, light-bodied and sweet-tasting brew collects. It is dominated by floral notes and has a chocolate aftertaste.

Euroespresso owner Marcello Nadile, an Annandale-based businessman, and his wife Vera have been retailing and roasting coffee for nearly 25 years.

He is philosophical about the new wave of brewing. ''No one process is the ultimate,'' said Mr Nadile, who specialises in an Italian approach to coffee making. ''I had a young chap come in the other day who visits regularly. He makes a great coffee, but I was shocked to find out he doesn't drink it. I only became aware of cold-drip six months ago. People are putting valuable effort into it. Overall there is a greater acceptance of drinking coffee in its true form.

''However, it will never take over from espresso. For espressos are perfect for people going out to work. Give me a coffee, hurry up and let's go.''