Cold brew coffee...
is a drink you won't find in my hand. Now, before you cold brew fans get all fired up, let me just say two things. One, this is my opinion, and I'll explain it to you. Two, I'm not trying to convince you not to like it, I'm just presenting my thoughts on the matter. The fact is, I'm in the minority of folks who hold this belief. Cold brew, especially RTD (ready-to-drink) canned cold brew has had a stellar couple years. The masses have spoken, and they want their cold brew.
For me cold brew was a gateway drug. It was easily manipulated to my taste preferences, it didn't have the bitterness, or acidity that I associated with hot coffee. Which at the time I didn't like, and I don't think I'm alone. Coffee is an acquired taste for most, and cold brew bridges that gap. Thats good for the specialty coffee industry, because its a nice mild introduction. Not the face punch of a single origin espresso.
The reason I don't like cold brew is due to the brewing method, immersion. Immersion brewing is basically putting grounds in water for a certain period of time, and it's usually a twelve to twenty-four hour endeavor when it comes to cold brew. During this time, the coffee flavors are extracted slowly, acidity is diminished, and nearly all unique flavors of the origin are nearly erased. I'm not the only one who thinks this. Coffee industry veteran George Howell said, "It's not a terroir product, despite what other people are saying, it creates a much more generic flavor that tends to overwhelm the subtleties of terroir."
Another issue with the brewing process is at no point does hot water touch the coffee. Without hot water aiding in the extraction many of the more complex flavors don't come out. Which begs the question, is the coffee even reaching its full flavor potential? Why use some of your high quality coffees to make cold brew? It's no mystery most cafes don't use their higher quality coffees to make cold brew. In fact its pretty common practice to put beans that are past crop or didn't meet the quality assurance standards into it. The lack of a perfect roast or coffee that is a bit old is buried under the minimization of complexity in the brewing process.
I'm not saying that you shouldn't drink cold brew coffee though. If you like it, have at it. If you want to try a different method I'd recommend Japanese iced coffee, otherwise known as Flash Brew. Basically, its a standard pour over made over ice. So it contains all of the nuanced flavors you'd expect in a pour over, but its cold and delicious. Iced coffee prepared in this way is becoming more and more common, but if no one near you makes them check out this Damn Fine Tutorial on how to do it and let me know what you think.