We all know that coffee is the elixir of life – we love the stuff! But coffee drinkers are likely all too aware that coffee is a bit of a loose cannon. By nature, it is very volatile. It takes a long time to extract properties from coffee, so we grind and heat the beans to speed up extraction. However, this makes the coffee volatile and gives us mere minutes to brew and drink the coffee if we want to enjoy it in all its glory.
There is also the issue with sensitive stomachs, not everyone’s stomach approve of coffee.
The solution for many in recent times has been cold brew. There is no heat during cold brew so, the beverage is much more stable. This means we don’t have to drink it straight away – the shelf life of cold brew coffee is around over week, when stored in the fridge. But brewing a cup of cold brew takes a long time.
It seems that we have to choose between quick and convenient, yet volatile hot coffee, or stable coffee that takes a day to brew. At least, this was the case until until quite recently.
Enter vacuum cold brew. This revolutionary way of brewing solves all of the problems associated with cold brewing. So what is vacuum cold brewing? Is it the real deal or is it too good to be true?
What is Vacuum Cold Brew?
Vacuum infusion coffee is a type of cold brew that uses vacuum as the method of extraction.
The process of brewing coffee in a Vacuum
There are two important things that happens during vacuum coffee brewing. Firstly, vacuum helps with the grounds saturation, and secondly, the boiling point of the brew is much lower than regular pressure cold brew.
For this type of cold brew, a vacuum is created at the start of the brewing process, using suction power. This vacuum sucks air out from the chamber containing the coffee grounds. Water then fills the space where the air was. This happens almost simultaneously, and the grounds are saturated as soon as the air is forced out of the chamber.
Lower Boiling Point
Creating a vacuum in this way lowers the boiling point of the water almost to room temperature. At the risk of sounding like a science text book, a lower boiling point increases the kinetic energy (movement) of the coffee particles. This increased energy causes the soluble solids in the coffee to be dissolved much quicker in the water. Hence, the extraction is much quicker. This is also why it is much easier to boil water at high altitude, where there is less air.
What all this means is that cold brew coffee can be brewed in a matter of minutes, not hours or days.
So why is vacuum brewing so exciting?
Advantages of Vacuum Cold Brew
There are a few reasons why brewing in a vacuum is extremely useful:
Coffee Brews Much Faster in a Vacuum
As I just mentioned, extracting in a vacuum speeds up the brewing process drastically. This means that heat doesn’t need to be added to aid in extraction, leading to a quickly brewed, stable yet delicious coffee, with a much longer shelf life.
Vacuum Coffee Shelf Life
We see this in food all the time. If we store food or drink without air it lasts longer. Therefore, when coffee is brewed in a vacuum and no air is added back in until it is consumed, the freshness of the coffee can be preserved for a long time. With regular, canned cold brew, the taste starts to degrade after a few days. Vacuum infusion coffee provide us with a fresh tasting beverage that has truly amazing flavors, weeks after brewing.
Although Vacuum Cold Brewing refers to the brew method only, storing coffee in vacuum is a great idea. It literally stops the oxidation process, since it removes all the oxygen in contact with coffee. By storing coffee in vacuum we can extend the coffee shelf life to months instead of weeks, as with regular cold brew. For storing brewed coffee in vacuum, you don’t need the same pressure as with brewing.
Reduced Risk of Contamination
The fast brewing time also reduces risk of contamination, which is a problem with regular cold brewing. Food spoilage is not normally an issue in standard hot coffee preparation. The quick brewing time doesn’t allow any bacteria to grow. Plus, any microbes that are present are killed during the heating process. However, cold brew is usually extracted over a period of 12-36 hours, at room temperature. This is the ideal environment for bacteria to grow, if the brewer isn’t strict about hygiene.
Brewing quickly, in a vacuum, eradicates this problem.
No need for refrigeration
The risk of contamination associated with classic cold brew makes storage and transportation problematic. Cold brew prepared in the traditional way needs to be stored and transported in one of two ways:
- Using constant refrigeration. This is a very costly process for manufacturers.
- By flash heating the cold brew before storing (in refrigerated conditions). Heating up the cold brew flattens the flavor and defeats a lot of the purpose of cold brewing in the first place.
With vacuum brewing, there is a much lower risk of contamination, so it is unnecessary to treat vacuum coffee in this way. This leads to vacuum brewed coffee being ultimately much cheaper and fresher than its classic counterpart.
Vacuum Cold Brew Coffee on the Market
Though still fairly new, there are a few groundbreaking companies that are developing and using this vacuum technology to provide us with delicious coffee.
RAIN Tech from Bkon
The folks at Bkon are largely responsible for progressing the science with their RAIN vacuum technology. Bkon provide their tech and machinery commercially. Craft coffee roasters, offices or supermarkets are able to brew, stock and sell their vacuum cold brew coffee.
At the moment, the process is expensive and is not available domestically, it is a commercial solution. They are working on a domestic brewing solution which will hopefully be available to us before too long.
However, there are some domestic vacuum coffee makers available now.
Dash Fast Cold Brew Coffee Maker
If you are interested in getting started with vacuum infusion brewing at home, the Dash fast cold brew coffee maker is a great place to begin.
Dash are the first company to bring vacuum coffee brewing technology to the domestic market. The device consists of a simple set up with a BPA free plastic carafe that can store your cold brew for up to 10 days. It is possible to brew 42 ounces of liquid with the dash, which can either be in the form of diluted, ready to drink coffee, or coffee concentrate. Brewing concentrate and then diluting it is a good tip if you are trying to save the pennies because less coffee is used that way.
Gourmia GCM7800 Brewdini – Vacuum Cold Brew Coffee Maker
Vac One Coffee Air Brewer
If you want to experiment with vacuum brewing on a budget, look no further than the Vac One Coffee Air Brewer. This piece of kit retails for under $100 and can brew 1-2 cups of hot or cold coffee in minutes. The vacuum extraction yields a delightfully complex cup. Therefore, brewing using vacuum infusion in this way is also ideal for hot coffee.
The air brewer is incredibly simple: it is made up of a glass carafe and a battery powered bucket, which is where the vacuum brewing takes place. The battery is good for a few hundred cups of coffee and doesn’t need to be charged all that often. The Vac One is not a stand alone brewer, ie. it doesn’t operate using electricity from the mains, so it doesn’t heat water up. You will need a kettle for that. This coffee maker only brews small quantities at a time, so is more suited to lone coffee drinkers. However, all things said, The Vac One Coffee Air Brewer is a fantastic home brewing solution.
If you are interested in making cold brew at home, you can check out our complete review of the best domestic cold brew coffee makers here.
A Final Word on Vacuum Brewing
Though the technology is still fairly young, the method of brewing coffee in a vacuum is incredibly exciting. It could well be the future of coffee.
Outside of coffee even, there are so many other uses for vacuum ‘boiling’. At Bkon, they talk of applying their RAIN tech to all different types of beverages, such as infused waters, spirits, teas, and so on. The vacuum extraction process will produce shelf stable products that will allow manufacturers and distributors to drastically cut storage and transportation costs. It also means that unnatural preservatives will no longer be necessary, and beverages can be brewed using only natural ingredients. This will have a major impact on our general health.
For these reasons, at Coffee Brewing Methods we are psyched to see what happens in the next few years with vacuum tech – it’s going to be awesome!