Sure, cold brew has been around for a few summers now, but it remains a buzzword that gets Seattleites riled up come summertime. It might be available year-round at most coffee shops, but there’s no doubt that August’s rising temperatures make an icy glass of cold brew all the more appealing. Though cold brew is now a staple at many a cafe, here are six coffee shops (and one non-coffee shop) mixing up new ways to sip your favorite summer staple.
Most shops use the same beans across the board, whether they end up in a piping hot latte or a refreshing cold brew. But Seattle Coffee Works has a specialty blend meant specifically for the ice-cold variation: Kalt, which has hints of milk chocolate, key lime, and mixed berry. That chocolatey flavor, of course, lends itself perfectly to cold brew, known for its smooth and natural sweetness. Though the downtown location doesn’t have room for the equipment, Ballard and Capitol Hill also offer nitro cold brew—coffee that’s charged with nitrogen for 24 hours to create a lightly-carbonated drink, which further enhances cold brew’s velvety body.
Nestled away in Queen Anne, Craftworks offers a chill atmosphere despite being steps away from KeyArena. One of the first to pick up on a new trend, the shop offers a concoction that combines nitro and tonic water, making the cold brew even more smooth and, of course, fizzy. If your coffee tastes are ahead of the curve, this is your drink.
If it’s cold brew you want, Anchorhead has everything your heart could possibly desire: order it still, infused with nitrogen, mixed with chocolate milk, or even hopped. When Anchorhead saw that other shops were beginning to experiment with hops, they tried their hand at it with dozens of varieties before settling on Citra. Because the hops are steeped cold—just like the coffee—the final product is imbued with floral notes sans the usual hop bitterness. But Anchorhead doesn’t just offer the ultimate manly combination of coffee and beer; there’s also a newcomer named “dreamsicle,” which combines cold brew concentrate, orange juice, coconut syrup, and milk—all shaken over ice and topped with whipped cream and coconut flakes. Grab one and get yourself somewhere tropical, stat!
Capitol Hill’s Analog poured cold brew since before it was a thing. When the shop opened six years ago, its owners decided to be one of the first Seattle coffee shops to have it on tap. Since then, cold brew has exploded and become an essential part of business, with customers buying and refilling growlers. But Analog hasn’t hesitated to keep innovating; the newest addition is a cold brew soda, a carbonated version of cold brew mixed with blueberry lemon simple syrup. And if you can’t part with cold brew come September, there’s no need to fear: The soda will stick around, with rotating seasonal flavors.
Key to cold brew’s mind-boggling amount of caffeine is a long, cold steep. Most coffee shops steep the drink somewhere between 16 and 20 hours, but not Honor Society: Their cold brew soaks for a whopping 48 hours inside two filters. What could be more Seattle than handcrafted coffee? Cannabis, of course. Honor Society also sells bottles of cannabis cold brew, infused with CBD oil. So no, it won’t get you high—that would be THC—but CDB does help with pain and anxiety so you can chill out, even when you’re hopped up on coffee.
Coffee shops often use the full immersion method for cold brew, in which coarse-ground coffee is steeped in water for a long period of time and then filtered. But Mike McConnell, owner of Caffe Vita, went another route after being inspired by his trip to Japan, choosing to instead make slow-drip cold brew, also known as Kyoto-style coffee. Because the coffee never actually steeps in water, the flavor is lighter and even less bitter than your regular cold brew.
Okay, so RGB isn’t technically a coffee shop, but don’t let that fool you. As of last week, the Seattle icon serves floats made with Stumptown’s nitro cold brew and Snoqualmie Ice Cream's vanilla soft serve. And even if floats scream summer, the ice cream treat will be sticking around for the foreseeable future.