This new coffee innovation is literally cool
EC: Starbucks Introduces Cold-Press Espresso But What Is It?
Photo Courtesy Starbucks
| Credit: Photo Courtesy Starbucks

The newest coffee from Starbucks is cool. Literally. Starting today, the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Seattle will be serving cold-pressed espresso, according to a press release from the coffee company. But what is cold-pressed espresso, and how is it different from a traditional shot of espresso?

As the name suggests, the difference between these two types of espresso comes down to the temperature. A traditional shot of espresso is made by forcing hot water through tightly packed coffee grounds. There's a lot of pressure and heat and steam involved in this process, and result is an shot of coffee that's best enjoyed hot and as soon as possible, otherwise it'll get bitter.

Cold-pressed espresso is made with cold water, using a different type of espresso machine. The one that'll be used at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery features what the company is calling "Aqua Tamp Technology," patent-pending. The coffee beans used in this machine are coarsely ground and relatively loosely packed and use an "ascending flow filtration system that is pressurized by cold water," according to the press release. If you're still a little confused, Starbucks provided this infographic for reference.

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Credit: Illustration Courtesy Starbucks

The difference between these two espresso-brewing methods is similar to the difference between cold brew and iced coffee; though both drinks are ultimately served cold, only cold brew is cold from start to finish. And though both methods can be used to make good espresso, you can taste the difference between the two. Besides the temperature, Starbucks' cold-pressed espresso is apparently sweeter and smoother than a shot of hot espresso, which can be more bitter and acidic.

The downside to making cold-pressed espresso is the wait. You need about an hour of brewing to get a shot of cold-pressed espresso, as compared to only about 25 seconds with a traditional espresso maker. But the result of this longer brewing process is a shot of espresso that's already cold, making it perfect for iced espresso drinks. No longer do you have to worry about hot espresso melting all of the ice in your iced Americano; when you're using cold-pressed espresso, there's no cooling off period for the espresso because the espresso is served cold.

That's why the Starbucks Reserve Roastery is serving up three new cold drinks with this cold-pressed espresso, rather than a hot macchiato or even a PSL. There's the sparkling cold-pressed Americano, which is a shot of cold-pressed espresso topped with sparkling water; the cold-pressed ginger fizz, which features ginger ale, a splash of whiskey barrel-aged vanilla syrup, and a dash of grapefruit bitters; and a cold-pressed Americano "exploration flight." With this third option, "Customers can try three different takes on a classic with a flight of Iced Americano beverages: two made with cold-pressed espresso (one sparkling and one still) alongside a traditional Iced Americano made with hot extracted espresso shots," so they can taste the difference between the two brewing methods.

It should be noted here that though Starbucks has a patent pending on their new cold-press espresso technology, the technique isn't exactly new. Indie, third wave coffee shops have been making cold-press espresso for a while now. Perhaps most notable is La Colombe, which uses cold-press espresso in its draft lattes.

But Starbucks has been trying to find its niche in the artisanal coffee scene and compete with third wave titans like La Colombe, offering Instagram-friendly foods like sushi burritos and even a wild drink with beef jerky and cold brew. And though some of these ventures have been more successful than others, given how popular cold brew coffee has become over the last couple of years, it wouldn't be a huge shock if these cold-pressed espresso machines might eventually make their way across the country, too.

By Maxine Builder and Maxine Builder