4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

At last, a cold-brew coffee with zing and no sting

“We recommend a proportion of two parts coffee to one part water.”

Modern Times Cold Brew on tap
Modern Times Cold Brew on tap

My kids love visiting Starbucks for their cold-coffee sweet treats, but I’ve found myself preferring the bitter side of things as I get older. When a friend praised local roaster Dark Horse Coffee’s cold brew, I picked some up, and talked to sales manager Eli Carter while I was at it.

Dark Horse Coffee

“What cold brew does is effectively make a really smooth and low-acid coffee. Hot-brew coffee can be brighter and more fruity; cold brew has a more mellow flavor. If you brew coffee hot and then pour it over ice, it gets diluted. You lose flavor. We make our cold brew by mixing coarsely ground coffee with cold filtered water. Then we let it sit for 24 hours. Some people brew for 12 or 15 hours, but we find 24 gives the best flavor. We use a blend of Brazilian and Guatemalan coffees. It’s very chocolate- and almond-forward. The result is a concentrate; we recommend a proportion of two parts coffee to one part water.” Dark Horse sells a 32 oz. growler of cold-brew concentrate for $20; if you bring the growler back, you can get it refilled for $15.

Sponsored
Sponsored

I grabbed my growler and then hit a few markets to set up a cold-brew tasting with my husband Patrick. We started with Stumptown ($3.99 for 10.5 oz. at Vons). Patrick: “It smells like coffee beans, but the flavor is citrus fruity — not as mellow as I’d hoped.” And weirdly, it was much redder than the Kona Red cold brew ($3.99 for 12 oz. at Vons), which was more of a murky greenish-brown. “Delightfully low-acid,” I said, “and I love the deep roasty smell. There’s molasses at the core, but the finish is very light — it hits and disappears.” We got another light finish from the Chameleon Organic Cold Brew Espresso ($4.04 for 10 oz. at Whole Foods), but Patrick said, “It’s both sour and bitter at the core. Makes you screw up your face. I can smell a little cocoa, but that’s the only real virtue.”

Lucky Jack Organic Nitro Cold Brew ($4.04 for 10 oz. at Whole Foods) provided a change of pace, fizzing up as we popped the top. “The froth makes it look like a nut-brown ale,” I noted. “And the fizz makes the fruity nose spread throughout my sinus.” We agreed there was a tropical note under the dominant roasty flavor and that the super-long finish was aided by the bubbles on the tongue. Alas, the next two entries were stinkers. Ground Works Organic Cold Brew ($3.04 for 10 oz. at Whole Foods) had a pop top but no fizz, a vegetal smell, and a taste reminiscent of wet wood. And Venice Cold Brew ($4.99 for 12 oz. at Whole Foods) smelled and tasted like cheap diner coffee. “I get orange peel acid, but no fruitiness,” I said. “Kind of a failed cold brew there.”

It was followed by a super success, and a local one at that. Modern Times Cold Brew can be had at Whole Foods in a can ($4.34 for 12 oz.), or on tap ($2.95 for 16 oz.), or in a growler ($7.95 for 32 oz., $5 refills). “Wow, but that smells like blueberries,” said Patrick. “And it tastes like blueberries, too,” I added, “with a chocolate finish. And it’s so well balanced: there’s acid, but it’s just enough to give zing, not sting.”

We finished up with the concentrates and scored another local success with the Dark Horse Cold Brew Concentrate. We both admired the hazelnut note on the nose that seemed to turn into toasted almonds on the tongue, and the slightly bitter chocolate finish. Oddly, we didn’t find any nutty flavors in the Secret Squirrel Organic Cold Brew Concentrate ($9.99 for 16 oz. at Whole Foods), but we did enjoy the unusually round and mellow texture. Good thing, because there wasn’t much in the way of distinct tastes, and just a slight pine note on the nose.

We had high hopes for a classic Trader Joe’s bargain in the concentrate department, but we were disappointed. The regular ($7.99 for 32 oz.) smelled acrid and finished burnt, and while the more expensive French Roast ($9.99) offered a richer flavor, it finished with a lingering taste of stale grounds.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Lake Cuyamaca Upper Basin Full and Fishable

Good Off-Season Local Fishing
Next Article

The $100,000 gamble in Mission Hills

Editor's picks of Reader stories by David Steinman
Modern Times Cold Brew on tap
Modern Times Cold Brew on tap

My kids love visiting Starbucks for their cold-coffee sweet treats, but I’ve found myself preferring the bitter side of things as I get older. When a friend praised local roaster Dark Horse Coffee’s cold brew, I picked some up, and talked to sales manager Eli Carter while I was at it.

Dark Horse Coffee

“What cold brew does is effectively make a really smooth and low-acid coffee. Hot-brew coffee can be brighter and more fruity; cold brew has a more mellow flavor. If you brew coffee hot and then pour it over ice, it gets diluted. You lose flavor. We make our cold brew by mixing coarsely ground coffee with cold filtered water. Then we let it sit for 24 hours. Some people brew for 12 or 15 hours, but we find 24 gives the best flavor. We use a blend of Brazilian and Guatemalan coffees. It’s very chocolate- and almond-forward. The result is a concentrate; we recommend a proportion of two parts coffee to one part water.” Dark Horse sells a 32 oz. growler of cold-brew concentrate for $20; if you bring the growler back, you can get it refilled for $15.

Sponsored
Sponsored

I grabbed my growler and then hit a few markets to set up a cold-brew tasting with my husband Patrick. We started with Stumptown ($3.99 for 10.5 oz. at Vons). Patrick: “It smells like coffee beans, but the flavor is citrus fruity — not as mellow as I’d hoped.” And weirdly, it was much redder than the Kona Red cold brew ($3.99 for 12 oz. at Vons), which was more of a murky greenish-brown. “Delightfully low-acid,” I said, “and I love the deep roasty smell. There’s molasses at the core, but the finish is very light — it hits and disappears.” We got another light finish from the Chameleon Organic Cold Brew Espresso ($4.04 for 10 oz. at Whole Foods), but Patrick said, “It’s both sour and bitter at the core. Makes you screw up your face. I can smell a little cocoa, but that’s the only real virtue.”

Lucky Jack Organic Nitro Cold Brew ($4.04 for 10 oz. at Whole Foods) provided a change of pace, fizzing up as we popped the top. “The froth makes it look like a nut-brown ale,” I noted. “And the fizz makes the fruity nose spread throughout my sinus.” We agreed there was a tropical note under the dominant roasty flavor and that the super-long finish was aided by the bubbles on the tongue. Alas, the next two entries were stinkers. Ground Works Organic Cold Brew ($3.04 for 10 oz. at Whole Foods) had a pop top but no fizz, a vegetal smell, and a taste reminiscent of wet wood. And Venice Cold Brew ($4.99 for 12 oz. at Whole Foods) smelled and tasted like cheap diner coffee. “I get orange peel acid, but no fruitiness,” I said. “Kind of a failed cold brew there.”

It was followed by a super success, and a local one at that. Modern Times Cold Brew can be had at Whole Foods in a can ($4.34 for 12 oz.), or on tap ($2.95 for 16 oz.), or in a growler ($7.95 for 32 oz., $5 refills). “Wow, but that smells like blueberries,” said Patrick. “And it tastes like blueberries, too,” I added, “with a chocolate finish. And it’s so well balanced: there’s acid, but it’s just enough to give zing, not sting.”

We finished up with the concentrates and scored another local success with the Dark Horse Cold Brew Concentrate. We both admired the hazelnut note on the nose that seemed to turn into toasted almonds on the tongue, and the slightly bitter chocolate finish. Oddly, we didn’t find any nutty flavors in the Secret Squirrel Organic Cold Brew Concentrate ($9.99 for 16 oz. at Whole Foods), but we did enjoy the unusually round and mellow texture. Good thing, because there wasn’t much in the way of distinct tastes, and just a slight pine note on the nose.

We had high hopes for a classic Trader Joe’s bargain in the concentrate department, but we were disappointed. The regular ($7.99 for 32 oz.) smelled acrid and finished burnt, and while the more expensive French Roast ($9.99) offered a richer flavor, it finished with a lingering taste of stale grounds.

Comments
Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Anti-Trump, pro-pal

What planet do these people live on?
Next Article

Year of the Rabbit, Iceplant brightens freeway embankments

“moon illusion” is purely psychological
Comments
Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories Fishing Report — What’s getting hooked from ship and shore From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town The Gonzo Report — Making the musical scene, or at least reporting from it Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Theater — On stage in San Diego this week Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close