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Taste Test Thursday: Cold Brews

All the cold brews under one roof. (photography by Carol Shih)
All the cold brews under one roof. (photography by Carol Shih)

There’s nothing worse in life than ordering an iced coffee and watching the barista pour hot coffee over ice.

Nothing. Worse.

The coffee just becomes watery and, basically, you’ve spent $3-$4 on bittery cold water. Your wallet hates you for it. In fact, it wants to break up with you.

That’s why cold brews are the bombshell. The coffee beans are soaked in [room temp or chilled] water for a long time, steeped, and then transforms into a perfect summer drink. For this week’s fun, we’ve chosen six different cold brews from local coffee shops in Dallas: Weekend Coffee; Mudsmith; Ascension; Pearl Cup; Hospitality Sweet; and the newest one, Sip Stir Cafe.

We ordered all our cold brews without ice, and then we let them settle inside our office fridge so we could drink them all at the same temperature. Jump if you want to find out the results of our taste test.

The set up
The set up

THE ICED COFFEES

A. Weekend Coffee
B. Mudsmith
C. Ascension
D. The Pearl Cup (Henderson location)
E. The Hospitality Sweet (downtown location)
F. Sip Stir Cafe

THE TASTE TESTERS

Zac Crain, Tim Rogers, Bradford Pearson, Christine Perez, Todd Johnson, Ricky Ferrer, and Ryan Conner. All of them are hotshots.

WHAT THEY SAID

A. Weekend Coffee

Taster 1 – nutty and a little sweet; soft finish
Taster 2 – Bittersweet. Actually tasted like coffee I’d drink.
Taster 3 – Chocolate tones, a litterl bitter but in a good way
Taster 4 – Acidic with a little flavor reward at the end
Taster 5 – metallic
Taster 6 – strongest
Taster 7 – too bitter

B. Mudsmith

Taster 1 – citrus on the palate; clean and easy to drink
Taster 2 – Tastes like old tea
Taster 3 – Smooth, but I like a littler more bite
Taster 4 – Smoother than A
Taster 5 – Acceptable
Taster 6 – Thin, fruity
Taster 7 – Smooth, but a little weak

C. Ascension

Taster 1 – Tight and bitter; overroasted finish
Taster 2 – Tastes like sweeter old tea
Taster 3 – Okay, not THAT much bite.
Taster 4 – Fruity
Taster 5 – I like. More, please
Taster 6 – good flavor
Taster 7 – good flavor

D. The Pearl Cup (Henderson location)

Taster 1 – Makes my face hurt; burnt butterscotch; too harsh
Taster 2 – Ugh
Taster 3 – Ew. Tastes like my morning Folgers the day after
Taster 4 – Very sour in flavor, thinner
Taster 5 – Bad!!!
Taster 6 – Metallic
Taster 7 – Do not enjoy the taste

E. The Hospitality Sweet (downtown location)

Taster 1 – Like swamp water – turgid and dirty – but not even as interesting as swamp water (1st place for best comment)
Taster 2 – Tastes like feet. (2nd place for best comment)
Taster 3 – Okay, can’t drink that.
Taster 4 – Ever more sour than D
Taster 5 – Horrible
Taster 6 – Bitter
Taster 7 – UGH

F. Sip Stir Cafe

Taster 1 – Flat and one note; and that note is burnt beans.
Taster 2 – Tastes like pencil shavings
Taster 3 – No.
Taster 4 – Very thin in flavor
Taster 5 – Bitter
Taster 6 – Licorice, strong
Taster 7 – Yum, interesting flavor

Ascension's cold brew.
Ascension’s cold brew.

THE RESULTS

A. Weekend Coffee- 2 votes
B. Mudsmith – 1 vote
C. Ascension – 3 votes
D. The Pearl Cup  – 0 votes
E. The Hospitality Sweet – 0 votes
F. Sip Stir Cafe – 1 vote

CONCLUSION

Ascension’s cold brew won the majority. Everyone generally agreed that Hospitality Sweet’s cold brew was the funkiest-tasting, but that may have been because it also tasted the most concentrated. The downtown coffee spot usually fills up their cold brews with five parts water and ice + 1 part coffee, but we just had the coffee straight-up. No ice.

We wanted to keep everything on equal ground, but, of course… not everything can be perfectly equal. (If we’d diluted the Hospitality Sweet’s cold brew, we’d have to dilute the others, too.)

So we kept it simple. No dilutions, no extra ice. Just coffee. Pearl Cup’s cold brew from the Henderson location was also just as bad, but definitely more naturally diluted than Hospitality Sweet’s.

Most of the voters favored Weekend, Mudsmith, and Ascension, but Ascension took the cake this time. No wonder Matt Shelley likes to buy Ascension’s six-pack cold brews by the bottle. He says it’s worth it.