Jun 19, 2015
Installation Cold Brew: Buzz King
If you look around this site a bit, you might get the impression that I like cold brew coffee. This is the correct impression to have; I do.
I wrote about what cold brew does to you before in my Blue Bottle New Orleans post. TL; DR: it completely ruins you on cold coffee beverages. Cold brewed coffee is a completely different drink from hot coffee made cold. It’s stronger, smoother (in my opinion), and more well-rounded. These days, if I feel like cold caffeine and there’s no true cold brewed coffee available, I go iced tea.
Because of this mild obsession, I always have my eyes open for new entries into the space. I subscribe to Imbibe, an excellent 6-times-yearly magazine covering beverages of all types along the folks who create and serve them. They specialize in cocktails, beer, and coffee so my vice obsessions are covered nicely.
In the last issue, they mentioned a newcomer to the net-available coffee space, Installation out of Los Angeles. According to their site:
Installation Cold Brew is an all natural coffee concentrate brewed and bottled in Los Angeles, California … We use our very own blend of Central American coffees to create a flavor profile with taste notes of rich dark cocoa, almonds, stone fruit and mixed berries
I owed my dad, a fellow cold brew fanatic, a gift so I ordered the 2 x 1 liter package right off my phone. It took about a week to get to me and was well worth the wait. I should mention that it is a little pricy. The 2-pack was $48 shipped, so about $1.50 per ounce. Compare that with Chameleon Cold Brew on Amazon which is about $1 per ounce, so we’re talking 50% more. Is it worth the cost? Read on.
I opened my bottle first and tried it right away, then left it in the fridge overnight. Tasting notes are below with a quick summary for each.
- Vegetables on the nose
- Smoky, hickory smell
- Very little bitterness at first but fades into more
- Strong citrusy flavor; hints at sour but doesn’t quite get there
- Very slight metallic, not in a bad way
- Leaves no bad aftertaste, just mild bitterness
I don’t typically drink cold brew straight as it’s a little too heavy to be refreshing. This one, like a few others I’ve tried, is definitely not a straight drinker. The nose was ok but not great and the citrus notes are too strong to be enjoyable to my palate. What I did like was the very minimal acidity and bitterness, common with quality cold brewed coffee.
Mixed 50/50 With Water
- Much cleaner, citrus backs off quite a bit
- Becomes very mellow, very little bitter comes through at the end
- Mild almond notes are a great compliment
- Much more refreshing
Adding water to the concentrate made a huge difference. All the funny notes I got on the nose went away and it really smoothed out. This is definitely one that can be enjoyed as a mix on ice without milk or cream. Very refreshing.
Mixed With 1tbsp Heavy Cream
- Shocked to say that this doesn’t add much to the drink at first
- Creamy lingering works well with what the coffee itself leaves behind
- Brings out the almond notes a bit
- Gets a bit flatter; still very refreshing but less going on
First, a note about the heavy cream. I drink coffee black at times if it’s a special cup brewed using a pour-over or Aeropress. I always try a cup first before I add cream if I’ve never had the beans before because, sometimes, it’s just right. I’ve moved towards more and more fat content in the dairy I add because more fat means less sugar. I don’t add sugar to my coffee because I don’t like that little bit of sweetness combined with the coffee’s bitterness. I either want a treat (think: coffee ice cream) or no sweet at all. I find that heavy cream, used in moderation, brings out the good flavor in most coffees without ruining it with a hint of sweetness.
Back to the coffee at hand … At first, I felt like I ruined it a bit by adding cream. The notes that made this drink interesting seemed to fall to the back and I was left with an overall flatter flavor. As I kept sipping, through, I came to terms with that because the taste I really liked, the hint of almond, came out with the cream. The notes were still there and the lingering cream aftertaste completely eliminated any bitterness. I also get a bit more of the cocoa that was mentioned in their description.
I have to say that this is one of the best cold brews I’ve ever had, maybe the best. Since I don’t drink this stuff straight, I won’t judge it based on the unmixed concentrate. Mixed with just water or water and cream, this is good enough to pay the premium in my mind. The flavor is excellent and the almond/cocoa mix makes this something I don’t imagine I’ll get tired of anytime soon.
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