Keeping cold hot: 3 things every cold brewer should know about food safety

By William “Bill” Murray, President & CEO, National Coffee Association USA


While not a new format by any means, cold brew has shot up in popularity in recent years and is expected to keep growing. About 16% of coffee drinkers reported having had cold brew in the past week, according to the NCA National Coffee Drinking Trends report – up from only 8% in 2016.  What hasn’t kept pace, however, are clear food safety best practices, guidance, and regulations to help keep this massively popular product – and the customers who demand it – safe. It is crucial to stress that cold brew coffee, like traditionally prepared coffee, is generally safe – but changing times and evolving brew methods call for food safety vigilance – despite coffee’s long, safe track record.

That’s why, with help from our team of scientists on the NCA Science Leadership Council (and support from our cold brew partner BUNN), NCA has created the all-new Cold Brew Safety Guide for Retailers along with several other new resources to help coffee retailers safely brew, store, and serve cold brew – one of the hottest drinks in coffee today.

Here are three key things every cold brew retailer should know to help keep their cold brew coffee food-safe:

1. The “danger zone” for cold brew where bacteria can grow is 41-140˚F. 

Brew, store, and serve your cold brew at a temperature of 40˚ F or below to minimize the risk of pathogens like botulism that could cause foodborne illness. Above 140˚F, most toxin-producing bacteria are killed. However, while cold brew doesn’t technically have to be served cold, it may lose some of the smooth taste and flavor your customers have come to expect from cold brew if heated above this temperature. 

2. Retail dispensed cold brew (i.e., made on-premises in a coffee shop) and RTD cold brew are not created equal – and each requires special safety considerations.

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RTD packaged cold brew is cold brew that is manufactured and bottled under aseptic conditions in a manufacturing facility following FDA’s low-acid food regulations (21 CFR Part 113), whereas dispensed cold brew is often prepared and served on-site at a retail location and is regulated by a local health inspector following FDA’s Food Code

Dispensed cold brew is generally prepared at 40-70˚F overnight at a retail location using roasted coffee and filtered water and can be infused with nitrogen to make nitro cold brew. The cold brew can be stored in airtight or covered (non-airtight) containers.

Health inspectors examining a retail dispensed cold brew operation may require a HACCP Plan – see more on HACCP Plans below. 

NCA’s 2018 Cold Brew Toolkit for Industry dives into RTD cold brew safety considerations, while dispensed retail cold brew (and its potential food safety risks) are covered extensively in the just-released NCA Cold Brew Safety Guide for Retailers (2022). Both are available here

 3. You might need a HACCP Plan.

Every retail cold brew operation should determine whether a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) Plan is necessary. This seven-step framework is critical in reducing hazards in food to acceptable levels, and consists of:

  • Hazard analysis.
  • Critical Control Point (CCP) identification.
  • Establishing critical limits.
  • Establishing monitoring procedures.
  • Setting corrective actions.
  • Setting verification procedures.
  • Establishing record-keeping and documentation.

A HACCP Plan is generally not required in retail locations unless the cold brew is brewed, held, and served above 41˚F, or if it is held in a container with an airtight lid for over 48 hours.  NCA offers a model HACCP Plan that our Members can refer to when developing food safety protocols for their own retail cold brew business.  

You can learn more about NCA’s Cold Brew safety resources in our NCA Cold Brew Toolkit, which includes our new Cold Brew Safety Guide for Retailers, our 2018 Toolkit for Industry, a model Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) Plan, answers to frequently asked questions about cold brew and a compliance checklist to ensure you’re ready when the health inspector comes knocking. 

NCA: We serve coffee (and want the cold brew coffee YOU serve to continue its long record of food safety.)

NCA Member Spotlight: Nano-Purification Solutions

Companynano purification solutions
Location: Charlotte, NC
NCA Member Since: 2018
Twitter: @npsi_USA
Facebook: /nanopurificationsystems
Instagram: @nanopurificationsolutionsusa

What does nano-purification solutions do?

Nano is a manufacturer of nitrogen gas generation systems used for coffee packaging, manufacturing, cold brew coffee production and nitro draught service.

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Infographic: What’s Brewing in 2019

Highlights from NCA market research on coffee consumption trends in the US

NCA National Coffee Data Trends (NCDT) Consumer Insights at a Glance

via Dig Insights

For yet another brew-tiful year, Dig Insights has partnered with the NCA to create five new consumer insight reports, to supplement the annual NCDT market tracking research:

  • Single-Cup Brewing
  • Coffee and Gen Z
  • In and Out of Home Coffee Consumption
  • Understanding Attitudes Towards Coffee
  • Cold Brew and Ready-to-Drink

Explore some highlighted insights from each of the mini reports below – and NCA members can check out the on-demand webinar, Single Cup & Consumer Insight Reports, featuring Cheryl Hung, Dig Insights VP.

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Infographic: The Growth of Gourmet Coffee Among Ethnic Consumers

hanging consumer behaviors and perceptions are creating new opportunities for the coffee industry – especially in cold brew and RTD.

While US daily coffee consumption remained fairly stable in 2019 (64%), we’re seeing a dynamic shift in what types of beverages we’re drinking. 

The NCA 2019 National Coffee Data Trends (NCDT) showed that Hispanic-Americans, African-Americans, Asian-Americans are driving growth in key segments of the coffee market – including gourmet, ready-to-drink, and cold brew.

Understanding the types of beverages that are growing in popularity among these ethnic groups (and the perceptions behind the behavior) may offer new opportunities for the coffee industry to connect and reach more diverse consumers. 

Get more insights into this key market trend in the infographic below:

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NCA National Coffee Data Trends 2019

Growth Chart

The Behaviors & Perceptions of U.S. Coffee Drinkers

63% of American adults drink coffee daily, according to new market research announced at the 2019 NCA Annual Convention in Atlanta.


The National Coffee Association USA (NCA) offered a first look at the redesigned and rebranded 2019 National Coffee Data Trends (NCDT) today at the 2019 NCA Annual Convention in the Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel in Atlanta, GA. The NCDT report has tracked consumer behaviors and perceptions shaping coffee trends in the US for almost 70 years.

63% of American adults drink coffee daily, according to the NCDT, steady with 2018 consumption.

“Coffee is America’s most beloved beverage – and for good reason,” said William (Bill) Murray, NCA President & CEO. “New consumer values have changed the game for coffee. But the industry is adapting – and thriving – by embracing innovation and transparency.”

From sustainability to wellness, these realigned priorities mean that consumers are paying more attention to what’s in their cup than ever before.

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New Research on the Chemical Composition of Cold Brew

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From antioxidants to acidity, how is cold brew different from hot coffee?


Cold brew is the hottest trend in coffee: The domestic cold brew coffee market grew 580% from 2011 to 2016, according to research from Mintel.

Now, new research from Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University found chemical differences between hot and cold brew coffee, which may have potential health impacts.

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Infographic: 2018 Specialty Coffee Consumption Stats

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Learn more about US coffee consumption trends:  For a limited time only,  we’re taking 25% off all of the NCA 2018 Coffee Snapshot Reports


via Square

The data geeks over at Square and the SCA recently released some interesting statistics about how and when Americans are getting their caffeine fix.

From the iced coffee vs. cold-brew debate to the new alt milk, here’s a breakdown of what Americans are ordering at their local coffee shops each day:

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For RTD Coffee, Cold is Hot

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Generation Z and young millennial consumers are driving RTD market trends

Top industry trends to watch, according to the latest market research.

US cold brew has emerged as a vibrant growth segment for the global coffee market.


Related Resources: RTD & Cold Brew

The NCA Cold Brew Toolkit & FAQ
Science-based guidance for the coffee industry

NCA Coffee Market Snapshot Reports
25% discount extended for a limited time only!

Webinar: What’s Brewing in RTD Coffee
Featuring Mintel


The following post is adapted from the Tea & Coffee Trade Journal Editor’s Blog 

The weather is turning cooler — but RTD coffee does not seem to need hot weather to entice consumers. The appeal is already there and growing.

According to research from the Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD), in 2017 approximately one in five (19%) global new coffee launches was iced, ready-to-drink (RTD), up from 16% in 2015.

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NCA Cold Brew Toolkit: FAQs

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New! NCA Workshop for Coffee Professionals:

The Business & Safety of Cold Brew | Nov. 6 | Sponsored by: Toddy, LLC


What is cold brew coffee?

“At its core, cold brew is a brewing method, not a serving method,” explains Mark Corey, Ph.D., NCA Director of Scientific & Government Affairs.

Dr. Corey led a team of specialized experts to develop the NCA Cold Brew Toolkit, now available to the entire coffee industry. (Read more background about the report and related food safety considerations.)

The Toolkit offers science-based technical guidance and recommended best practices – visit the NCA website for more details.

While working on the report, we received a lot of questions – from consumers and companies alike – about the beverage market’s hottest trend.

Here are some expert-approved answers to common questions about what “cold brew coffee” really means:

NCA Cold Brew Coffee FAQs

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Coffee: Still King of the College Dorm

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New market research takes a closer look at the most popular late-night study aid (and early morning eye-opener) on campus.

By Brian Sudano, Managing Partner, Beverage Marketing Corporation

It’s been a scorcher on the East Coast so far this summer. But September is approaching soon – which means cooler weather and back-to-school season.

College students are a growing demographic: U.S. enrollment for  public or private colleges is estimated to reach nearly 20 million in 2018. And their consumption habits offer some interesting insight into the next generation of trends.

In our recent BMC report, “U.S. College Student Beverage Consumption and Attitudes,” we took a deep dive into college student beverage consumption behavior, which we think is a great way to peer into the crystal ball of the future of the industry. We took an especially close look at student attitudes toward coffee, everyone’s favorite early eye-opener and late-night study aid.

Here’s what we found.

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