What is Snapchilled Iced Coffee?

Snapchilled coffee in a glass

In the hotter months of the year, many turn to iced coffee, cold brew, or iced espresso drinks to get their caffeine fix and recover from the heat of the day. Cold coffee enthusiasts are always looking for the next new way to make the most of cold coffee, like Kyoto cold brewing towers or hot-bloom or nitro cold brew. As beverage innovators move into warmer months, newer and more complex coffee brewing processes, like snapchilled coffee, make their way to cafes and households across the country, providing unique and interesting ways to enjoy coffee through processes of modern science.

An Alternative Brewing Method

Snapchilled coffee is not a special type of coffee varietal or production process — it is a newer brewing method that is an alternative to the more traditional cold brew or iced coffee techniques. To understand what makes snapchilling unique, however, it helps to understand how coffee is brewed in the first place:

Iced Coffee

Likely the most common type of cold coffee, iced coffee is brewed hot and then diluted and chilled with ice or refrigeration. Coffee is typically brewed stronger and more aggressively to extract larger amounts of flavor but is later diluted with ice, losing some amount of depth and nuance. Iced coffee is accessible and takes very little time, making it a common choice for most coffee enjoyers.

Cold Brew

Conversely to iced coffee, cold brew is coffee that is brewed over a long period of time with cold or room temperature water, extracting large amounts of caffeine and smoother, chocolatey flavors. Since it uses cold water, however, less flavor is extracted overall, and the cold brew must be further diluted with water to achieve a proper balance of flavor, much like iced coffee.

Iced coffee and cold brew also come with a host of other particularities, such as oxidation from chilling time in iced coffee and an incredibly long brew time with cold brew. Snapchilled coffee serves to eliminate many of these concerns and bring the best of both cold coffee processes. It expands upon processes that are already found in coffee brewing, such as hot-blooming coffee before chilling, and enables coffee enthusiasts to brew coffee in a process that is quite unlike any traditional brewing method.

Iced coffee being poured into a jar

Iterating on Old Techniques

Snapchilled coffee requires a special machine to brew, but the snapchilling machine performs a host of coffee brewing processes that are difficult to achieve without modern technology. Snapchilled coffee uses hot water to brew coffee at its initial stages, after which it is chilled within a minute, vastly faster than traditional coffee methods. According to BeverageDaily, the snapchilling machine, invented by Elemental Beverage Company, can cool coffee from 140° F to 40° F in just 60 seconds – Close to a quarter of the time it takes to brew a pour-over flash iced coffee! Though it is certainly a complicated and specialized process, those who value the depth and nuance of a well-brewed coffee will notice the difference.

The primary benefit of snapchilling coffee is the great amount of flavor that can be extracted from the coffee grounds. Though this is sometimes done by blooming grounds before a long cold brew steep, or similar to Japanese flash iced coffee. Using hot water allows for less volatile flavor compounds and oils to be released from the coffee grounds, resulting in a fruity, bright cup that is commonly missed in cold brew methods. This hot brew is immediately followed up by an instant chilling process, canning and sealing the beverage at 38° F in an air-tight, food-safe container. The chilling process of snapchilled coffee avoids the dilution and oxidation that is inherent to iced coffee and cold brewing techniques, ensuring that everything in the beverage is pure, full-flavored coffee.

Experience a Brand New Process

Though snapchilled coffee typically comes in a can, Elemental Beverage Company has plans to release a countertop coffee Snapchiller, enabling individuals and cafes to experience the snapchilled coffee process with a variety of different beans and production processes. Since it uses a hot-brew technique, Snapchilling is likely best suited to light-roasted coffees since they are typically very fruity, bright, and light-bodied. Dark roast coffees will be brighter and juicier as a result of the snapchilling process but still chocolatey and bold. Whether from a can or through experimentation, snapchilled coffee is sure to be a unique and exciting coffee process to follow in the years to come.