In the past, cold brew has taken as long as 24 hours to prepare properly. However, today, some commercial cold brew systems can prepare it in just 45 minutes. 

These machines make it faster, easier, and more profitable to prepare cold coffee as demand for it continues to grow around the world. 

To learn more about how these machines achieve this and why it’s important, we spoke to Randy Anderson, a cold coffee specialist and Vice President of Product Strategy at Cold Percolation, Inc. Read on to find out what he had to say about how fast commercial cold brew systems can help your business. 

 A commercial cold brew system filled with ground coffee.

How long does it take to prepare cold brew using traditional methods? 

Before we discuss how quickly a dedicated commercial cold brew system can prepare coffee, let’s look at how traditional methods line up.

In most cases, cold brew is prepared by steeping coffee in room temperature water for eight to 24 hours. However, this method can be inefficient in terms of extraction, which means more waste and lower profit margins as a result. 

The extended brew time also makes it harder to be flexible and meet changes in demand. In turn, this can affect sales – but a commercial cold brew system can address these issues by massively reducing preparation time.

The user interface on a commercial cold brew system.

Why it’s important to brew cold coffee as quickly as possible

So, we know classic cold brew methods can take much longer than new commercial systems, some of which prepare batches in just 45 minutes. But why is that so important?

Sudden rushes, during warm weather for example, can mean a coffee shop runs out of cold brew in minutes. In situations like these, it’s important to have a way to brew more cold coffee quickly.

A fast commercial cold brew system also allows you to brew different coffees in quick succession. This means that you could offer both a dark and light roast to accommodate different consumer tastes, or offer a natural Ethiopian coffee alongside a washed Colombian to highlight the differences between the two. Furthermore, shorter brew times means that you can more quickly “dial in” a new coffee to get the best from it. 

Food safety is also an important factor. Using a commercial cold brew system significantly reduces the risk of contamination due to its faster brew time – as it isn’t left unsupervised for long periods of time.

A commercial cold brew system being filled with ground coffee.

Do commercial cold brew systems sacrifice quality for speed?

So, we know it’s important to make coffee quickly and why – but does speed come at the cost of quality? This is an important question to ask, as consumers today expect higher quality cold brew than ever before.

One of the most important variables when preparing high-quality cold brew is managing the extraction yield: the percentage of soluble compounds that dissolve into the water during brewing. 

Randy explains more about the ideal yield for cold brew: “How much of the dissolved solids are you extracting from your ground coffee? It should be 18 to 22%, otherwise you are not maximising your yield. More traditional methods yield up to 13 to 14% which is unacceptable.” 

All Hardtank devices guarantee an extraction level of at least 22% thanks to the unique process of recirculating the water through the coffee. This forces it to find smaller and smaller channels with each cycle, which draws out the flavours, caffeine, and oils from the coffee more efficiently. 

Commercial cold brew systems can give you ways to further refine this process. 

“Are there variables that can be changed in the extraction process that help you target different compounds?” Randy asks. “Traditional methods give you one route to go down. The temperature can be adjusted (from 20°C to 40°C), but there is very little control outside of that.” 

Improving extraction also allows you to get the best possible results from your coffee. This means that no matter whether you’re using a light, medium, or dark roast, you can bring out the tasting notes you should expect from that coffee – whether that’s chocolate and toasted nuts or florals and tea-like notes.

“Modern extraction methods affect different variables which can be adjusted to bring out different profiles. These can be more or less mellow, acidic, or full-bodied.”

A commercial cold brew coffee in the middle of the brewing cycle.

Finding the right commercial cold brew system 

As well as allowing you to meet customers’ demand for cold brew more quickly than traditional methods, the right equipment will also guarantee quality, consistency, and efficiency. 

At Hardtank, we manufacture a range of commercial cold brew devices which brew high-quality cold coffee in a fraction of the usual time.

  • Hardtank 20: Our classic model. Produces batches of cold brew in just 45 minutes and stores it in a built-in keg. 
  • Hardtank 1T: Our flagship Hardtank 20, but with an integrated dispenser tap. 
  • Hardtank 2T: Just like the Hardtank 1T, but with two taps built in for streamlined service for your customers. 
  • Baby Hardtank: A compact version of the Hardtank 20 that can fit on a countertop. 

You can learn more about our cutting-edge cold brew technology here, or sign up for our newsletter for regular updates. You can also get in touch with our team to learn more.

Hardtank cold brew coffee maker