Cold brew coffee is not just hot coffee that's served cold. A less acidic alternative to an iced Americano, cold brew gets its distinctive flavor from coarsely ground beans steeped in room-temperature or chilled water for up to 24 hours. The result is a concentrated jolt that is less bitter than espresso and can be easily be cut with water or milk to make a mellow drink for warmer days.
Though it used to be that you could only find cold brew at coffee shops — either poured from a pitcher or served on draught — roasters and dedicated companies are now bottling their own cold brews, which can be purchased around the city. Here are five L.A.-crafted ones to get you amped up:
Created by three friends who met while packaging beans in the early days of the late Handsome Coffee Roasters, Outpost isn't a coffee shop or roaster but a company that sells its only product — 12-ounce bottles of cold brew coffee — at nearly 40 locations around L.A. Extra-lightly roasted beans hang out in water for 24 hours, lending Outpost's version an almost tea-like bounce that makes it easy drinking: it lacks any roasty, dark coffee flavors. Buy bottles online through Amazon Fresh, find the owners at the monthly Artists & Fleas vintage vendor fair, or pick up a bottle at one of the many health food markets in L.A. where Outpost is now sold.
Secret Squirrel gets credit for being the only local cold brew we also found readily available in bulk-size concentrate, meaning you get to determine the strength and intensity of your drink. It's also one of the few cold brew companies in the country to roll out a line of bottled, dairy-based drinks, including caffe latte, Vietnamese latte and dark chocolate mocha, which have been available since February. Sold in Whole Foods stores as far away as Hawaii, Secret Squirrel's cold brew has the same chocolate notes as when it started as a farmers market vendor in L.A. in 2012.
Ethical procurement practices like organic and fair trade are the main distinguishing points for Groundwork's line of cold brews, which can be found at local Whole Foods markets and at the 25-year-old roaster's L.A. coffee shops. Each bottled batch is brewed and bottled at Groundwork's roastery in North Hollywood, and the result is a soft, dark-roasted blend that is easy to drink over ice. Groundwork rolled out a concentrated version of its cold brew at the end of March and, according to its website, it's available in 64-ounce growlers.
Balanced and bright, G&B's bottled cold brews are just as popular today as they were when they were first created as take-home gifts during the Grand Central Market stall's pop-ups at SQIRL (circa 2012). Then, as now, the brew is made from whichever beans happen to be owners Kyle Glanville and Charles Babinski's roast du jour. (They've been rotating through selections by George Howell Coffee, Heart Coffee and 49th Parallel, among others.) Babinski's recent Barista of the Year win at the U.S. Coffee Championships helps further validate these hand-bottled cold brews — which are also for sale at G&B's sister store, Go Get 'Em Tiger.
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Lord Windsor Roasters
Each week, the small soda fridge inside Lord Windsor Roasters' coffee shop in Long Beach gets loaded with new bottled selections of its intense, near-concentrate cold brew, which pours thick and quickly forms a thin layer of flavor-packed oil on top. This roaster is one of the few that consistently stocks multiple single-origin options (Guatemala, Ethiopia, Costa Rica and more), each marked with a "drink by" date that is never more than a few weeks away. Buy bottles direct from the shop or at any of the local bars and breweries that sell it (try Phantom Carriage in Carson), then return enough empties to fill up a stamp card and you'll earn a free one.