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Home » History of Cold Brew Coffee: A Fascinating Global Tale

History of Cold Brew Coffee: A Fascinating Global Tale

Cold brew coffee is a silky, smooth, and sweet way of enjoying coffee with less acidity and greater health benefits. This extraction method might be enjoying a current burst of popularity, but it’s hardly a novel idea. The earliest record of cold brewing was found in Japan over 400 years ago.

Read on as we do a short-and-sweet survey of the history of cold brew coffee.

Cold Brew Coffee History

Cold brew coffee is a beloved caffeinated staple enjoyed in various countries around the world. It is not to be confused with iced coffee, which involves chilling coffee that was brewed hot. When brewing cold brew coffee, the grounds are never exposed to heat, giving it a unique extraction profile and flavour.

Who Invented Cold Brew Coffee?

The first true form of cold brew coffee prepared with cold water was invented in Japan. This country had already established cold brew tea at this time using fresh cold river water. Cold brew coffee skyrocketed in popularity in Kyoto and was later renamed Kyoto-style coffee (1).

Earliest record of cold brew coffee

When Was Cold Brew Invented?

Coffee has a long history that dates back to 700 A.D. The invention of cold brew coffee was first documented in the 1600s. Over hundreds of years, the technique for cold brewing evolved artistically.

The original Kyoto-style cold brew was made by dripping cold water through coffee grounds one drop at a time over the course of hours.

This was done using towering glass brewers, resulting in stunning displays that piqued customer curiosity in coffee shops. Today, the slow-steeped immersion method of making cold coffee is more common. While not as beautiful, it is far more practical.

Cold Brew Coffee History Speculations Off The Record

Where did the Japanese learn about brewing cold brew coffee?

One speculation suggests Dutch traders were involved. The Dutch would transport cold coffee concentrate on ships for use by sailors and traders. It could easily be bottled and sold at ports and didn’t require a heat source to enjoy. Over the years, it spread around the world, popping up in Cuba, Paris, Peru, Seattle, and elsewhere.

For more on the history of cold brew, check out this video from La Marzocco:

Cold Brew Coffee Today

Cold brew coffee is in the midst of a renaissance. Stumptown deserves some of the credit, thanks to the convenience of their widely-available bottled cold brew. But it is millennials who are truly driving the modern cold brew trend. For this generation, cold brew is more of a lifestyle than a caffeine kick, explains Perfect Daily Grind managing editor Tasmin Grant (2).

They’re willing to spend more on it, and see it as an affordable luxury. They’re also more engaged with it, with many appreciating it the way previous generations enjoyed wine and beer.

Millennials also value the convenience and environmental advantages of cold brew coffee – both reasons that this trend is unlikely to disappear any time soon.

Final Thoughts

With a rich history starting in 17th-century Japan, and possibly earlier Dutch influence, cold brew coffee developed a stellar global reputation. It’s more popular today than ever and is easy to make at home. All you need is coarsely ground coffee, cold water, and patience. It is a smooth and naturally sweet way to enjoy great coffee.


Cold brew coffee is special because it is less acidic than coffee brewed with a hot extraction method. This makes it easier to stomach for coffee lovers who are prone to experiencing acid reflux, indigestion, and heartburn. It also has crude polysaccharides to protect the stomach from acidity (3).

No, cold brew is not healthier than regular coffee. They have different benefits. Hot brewed coffee has more antioxidants than cold brew. However, the smoother and sweeter taste of cold brew coffee makes coffee drinkers less likely to add milk, cream, sugar, and other extraneous calories (4). 

Yes, you can use any coffee in a cold brew maker. Whether you prefer a dark or a light roast, we suggest you freshly grind whole coffee beans with a quality burr grinder for the best flavour. Avoid too fine of a grind. Otherwise, the tiny particles will float to the bottom of your cold brew coffee maker and form an unpleasantly muddy sludge

  1. Zingerman’s Coffee Company. (n.d.). Kyoto Cold Brew Coffee. Retrieved February 28, 2023, from https://www.zingermanscoffee.com/2020/07/kyoto-cold-brew-coffee/
  2. Grant, T. (2020, January 16). How Cold Brew Captured The Millennial Market. Retrieved February 28, 2023, from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2020/01/how-cold-brew-captured-the-millennial-market/
  3. Panoff, L. (2019, May 8). 9 Impressive Benefits of Cold-Brew Coffee (Plus How to Make It). Retrieved February 28, 2023, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/cold-brew-coffee-benefits
  4. Bryman, H. (2020, April 15). Research Into Acidity and Antioxidants in Cold Brew vs. Hot Coffee Yields Surprising Results. Retrieved February 28, 2023, from https://dailycoffeenews.com/2020/04/15/research-into-acidity-and-antioxidants-in-cold-brew-vs-hot-coffee-yields-surprising-results/
Dasha Toptygina
I am a writer who delves into all manner of things related to coffee, cats, and characters. I started drinking coffee daily in university and now my entire work, life, and personality all revolve around procuring the perfect brew. I start every morning with yoga, French Press coffee, and some special creative time devoted to working on a magical cat café story... but, more on that later.

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