Why Is Cold Brew Coffee Trendy?

As a vivid cold brew coffee drinker, you always notice when other people around you consume a cold brew. You’ve maybe even reached a point where it’s a daily sight. Six months ago, your traditional and rigid friend mocked you for drinking ‘that.’ Today, that same friend shares pictures on Instagram and hailing cold brew coffee.

Out of the public eye, that same friend texts you: ”Hey, do you have a recipe for cold brew coffee?”. But have you asked yourself how did that happen?! How did cold brew coffee take the world by a storm? In this article, we’ll cover precisely that and how it changed the coffee business. 

What Is Cold Crew Coffee?

It’s important to first get to know the subject we’re discussing. Cold brew coffee became a worldwide trend in the last decade. But contrary to many beliefs cold brew coffee is not a product of the XXI century. Instead, it dates back to the 1600-1700s. There’s an agreement that coffee was brought in by Dutch (and potentially Portuguese) traders in the port of Nagasaki, Japan. 

Maciej Kasperowicz states in an article that cold brew coffee was actually invented in the 1640s by the Japanese. The technique to use towers (to you, they’ll be known as cold brew towers) actually is borrowed from brewing cold tea.

But let’s answer the question: What is cold brew coffee? It is coffee brewed slowly by brewing the coffee at low temperatures. Today you’ll most likely find people advising you to put your cold brew coffee in the fridge for a period of up to 24 hours. But that’s not the only way to prepare your cold brew coffee. You may also purchase a Kyto-style tower for brewing coffee. This method uses ice that melts at room temperature. In this manner, it brews your coffee slowly.

Why Is Cold Brew Coffee Popular?

How did this old technique of brewing coffee get to be so trendy?! In fact, it’s so popular that it’s disrupting the coffee business (more about that below). When I say popular, I mean: it’s a liked and enjoyed product by many. This automatically makes it accepted worldwide and obviously practiced by a lot of people. 

I like to follow my gut whenever I face a dilemma. But that’s not a scientific approach, and it defeats the purpose of the article. That’s why I’ll explain it using psychology. 

Dr. Jonah Berger wrote in his book called Contagious: Why things Catch On, how things become trendy. He explains it through the acronym STEPPS. This stands for:

  • Social currency 
  • Triggers
  • Emotion
  • Public
  • Practical value and 
  • Stories.

Let’s dissect these terms and see what do they mean. 

Social currency is basically when something makes us look better. The trigger is the moment when something draws a distant memory when you smell or see it. Emotion is self-explanatory. But let me add this: people always buy with emotions first! The public is the moment when you want something purely because you see others having it. Practical value is the user-friendliness of the product. Last but not least important is stories. Just like Emotion, it’s easy to understand. A good story makes a product whole. It connects what seems unrelated and gives it context: and we love it!

Enough with the theory. Let’s see how this applies to cold brew coffee. Initially, cold brew coffee seemed like an exclusive beverage. Fewer people were drinking it, and this raised its social currency. That’s how the market works, so this is nothing new. Whenever you drink a cold brew, it automatically triggers an emotion subconsciously. That’s the moment when you’re drinking your cold brew on your comfortable sofa, and your thoughts put you in an airplane. That airplane lands you in Phuket, Thailand, on a beach house where you’re working from home. This example is a combined effort of a trigger and an emotion.

So how did you start drinking cold brew? In my case, I saw a friend drinking it. Since I am a coffee aficionado, I googled it, and a couple of years later, I am writing this. This right here is the Public. But my absolute favorite when it comes to cold brew is Practical value. It’s all the things that we love about it. Practical values are facts like: it’s less acidic, we prepare it just the way we like it, it improves your brain activity, it can help with your health (1,2,3) and lose weight. This list can go on, but you get the point: there are many practical values about our beloved cold brew. 

How often do you drink your cold brew and talk with someone? In my case, it’s all the time! That’s why some of the best stories I’ve heard (and recall them) were brought to me during a coffee.

And there you have it: cold brew coffee covers all of the terms that are part of the STEPPS Dr. Berger explained in his book. But that’s not the only way to perceive this. The most influential industrial designer to ever live was Raymond Loewy. His best-known design is the Coca-Cola bottle. But he has also designed locomotives, cars, toothbrushes, and other random but frequently used products. 

He also coined a term called MAYA. This stands for most advanced yet acceptable. MAYA practically means something optimally familiar to us. Our beloved cold brew coffee is exactly that. It’s new but old at the same time. In its essence is coffee, and we know how coffee tastes. But the method of preparation is new, so it’s simultaneously new. This makes it a great example of MAYA.

How Did Cold Brew Change The Coffee Business?

I mentioned previously in the article that we’ll cover how cold brew affected the coffee business. I’ll start with some numbers.

  • First, let me start by covering the growing consumption of gourmet coffee beverages (GCB – and cold brew coffee is GCB) between 2008 and 2016. Here is the fact: 18-24-year-olds have increased their consumption from 13% to 36%, while 25-39-year-olds from 19% to the staggering 41%. 
  • The following stats were pulled from STATISTA:
    • An average increase of 7% per year of the market in the period from 2012 to 2019.
    • The expected growth of the coffee market in the period between 2020 and 2025 is 10,6%.
    • Volume growth per KG is a 2% increase on average from 2012 to 2019.
    • The USA is the biggest consumer with a revenue of $ 67,633 million.
  • In the USA, only Ready-to-drink coffees have grown by 12% from 2014 to 2016, resulting in a market worth $2.5 billion.
  • The Grand View Research published the following stats:
    • The Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR is a figure that can give you an idea of how fast an investment can grow) is projected at 25.1% from 2019 to 2025. 
    • The market size of cold brew coffee is $ 522.9 million, while it’s forecasted that in 2025 it will be $ 1.6 billion.
    • Market size growth from 2015 to 2020 is 375%, while if the 2025 forecast is correct: from 2015 to 2025, it could be 1382%. 

We know that cold brew coffee is awesome, but these numbers are crazy. This, however, justifies why some big names in the food & beverage industry (such as Nestlé, Coca-cola, Illycaffè, Starbucks, and others) have decided to add cold brew coffee to their line of products. In fact, Starbucks added cold brew coffee as part of their offer back in March 2015 and added the Nitro Cold Brew with Salted Honey Cold Foam, most recently in March 2020


With one word, we can say cold brew coffee is simply AWESOME. That’s why it became so trendy! But as psychology suggests, this is not just my subjective opinion. Instead, there’s scientific proof of why cold brew coffee is and how it became trendy in such a short period. On top of that, the mind-boggling numbers give a wider context. This further explains why we’re going to continue hearing about new cold brew coffee brands entering the market.