A Q&A with Andrew Gomez, Specialty Coffee Sales and Training Manager, Wilbur Curtis Co.
Q: What are some of the challenges operators face when serving cold brew coffee?
Andrew Gomez: When operators serve cold brew coffee, they’re faced with challenges of time and the inability to really “dial in” a product — to customize a brewing profile and make small changes affecting the beverage flavor. When you’re limited in how you’re able to brew, it limits what you’re able to serve.
Also, consistency has left a lot to be desired. When brewing cold brew, you’re basically making concentrate, and diluting that to a 1:1 or 1:2 ratio, depending on whatever you think tastes good.
Q: You also mentioned the time factor that also affects the ability to serve cold brew.
AG: The biggest ingredient in cold brew is time. Making cold brew the traditional way takes 12 to 24 hours of steep time. It needs to be started toward the end of a shift so it’s ready to sell the next day. If you only make one or two batches and sell more than the day before, you’ll be out of product and have no feasible way of making replacement product in time.
Q: How does the new Curtis Concentrate Brew System address those challenges?
AG: We substitute time for temperature using a small amount of hot water in the brewing process — where the traditional cold brew method is solely with ambient temperature water. Here’s how it works. Coffee is placed into a chamber where a brief hot water “strike” is introduced and mixed with an agitator. This allows the grounds to “bloom” and enhances extraction. Next, we add ambient temperature water. The liquid is then transferred from the chamber into your serving container. The ability to fully evacuate liquid from the entire bed of coffee is something the Curtis Concentrate System does that most cold brew methods can’t.
Q: The system has unique technological features as well.
AG: Our system uses Curtis G4 touchscreen-controlled, digital technology that provides precise control over the entire process. It allows users to adjust a wide variety of customizable parameters to “dial in” the brew to a level not achievable when making cold brew the traditional way.
Also, the recipe created on one Concentrate Brewer can be uploaded to a USB and copied to brewers across units for consistency.
Q: How does the Curtis Concentrate System help operators save time and money?
AG: Using traditional methods, cold brew took 24 hours to make, and even a “fast” cold brew took around 12 hours. The Curtis unit brews batches in under 20 minutes.
Plus, our system uses 40 percent less coffee. Traditional cold brewing typically uses five pounds of coffee; we’re using two and a half to three pounds to achieve the same result, roughly five gallons of finished product. Between the raw materials savings and the insanely short brew time, the Curtis Concentrate Brewer provides operators with true cost-saving benefits.