Cold brew coffee - high pressure process

Boost Cold Brew Longevity with High-Pressure Tech

Keeping Cold Brew Safe with a Blast of Pressure

Do you obsess over every perfect sip of cold brew? Have you puzzled over that expensive bag of grounds lasting half as long as you expected? We feel your pain. Even when kept chilled, harmful bugs can creep into your precious batch. Before you know it, your cold brew turns and loses its edge. But what if we told you there's a slick new trick to keep cold brew fresh for months? High-pressure processing, or HPP, uses extreme pressure — we're talking the pressure found deep underwater — to zap away bacteria and other nasties. The best part? It locks in flavor and aroma without changing your beloved beans one bit.

In this post, we'll fill you in on the first study, by Spanish researchers, focused solely on how HPP works its magic on cold brew. Get the inside scoop on how just 3 minutes under pressure can protect your next glass or growler fill. We promise, your tastebuds — not to mention your wallet.

Why Cold Brew Turns Quickly

Before we dive into the power of pressure, let's chat about why cold brew seems to spoil faster than hot coffee. Iced or cold espresso drinks packed with milk and flavorings can disguise the taste of coffee gone bad. But with a subtle, lightly sweetened cold brew, even a hint of staleness stands out. The cold brew process itself invites contamination. Extended steeping times, especially at room temperature, give bacteria multiple chances to take hold. Once chilled, flavors develop quickly for maximum taste. Yet even in the fridge, lurking microbes can multiply. Within two months, you may notice flat or funky flavors. By three months, visible mold takes over. Talk about a morning buzzkill!

Keeping Cold Brew Safe, Not Sorry

Cold brew is a popular beverage that is enjoyed by many individuals across the world. However, preserving its quality can be a challenge. To overcome this issue, the industry has turned to high-pressure processing (HPP) - a cutting-edge, non-thermal treatment that seals in safety without compromising quality. HPP applies an incredible pressure of 87,000 pounds per square inch on the food or beverage. This pressure is almost six times stronger than the deepest ocean trench and ensures that bacterial cells and enzymes are ruptured beyond repair. As a result, the product becomes safe to consume without any negative impact on its taste or quality.

What makes HPP even more remarkable is that it does not affect the taste or quality of low-acid drinks like cold brew. This means that the coffee retains its smooth, rich flavor that many people love without undergoing any changes during the preservation process. In a nutshell, HPP is an innovative technique that helps to maintain the quality of cold brew while ensuring its safety for consumption.

HPP Cold Brew Study Details

For the first-ever cold brew study, researchers tested regular and HPP-treated batches from the same coffee grains. Half of each group was stored at just above freezing while the rest sat at room temperature.

Over 90 days they measured:

  • Survival of pathogens like E. coli and salmonella
  • Changes in acidity, antioxidants, and other quality markers 

The HPP conditions matched what’s used commercially:

  • 600 MPa of pressure (for comparison, the deepest diving whales handle up to 80 MPa)
  • 3 minutes
  • 16-36°F temperature
6-Log Death Sentence for Bugs  

Right off the bat, HPP achieved well over 99.9999% elimination of all three pathogens in cold brew. No trace survived the hyperbaric hit, even after 3 months! Meanwhile, E. coli, listeria, and salmonella persisted for weeks in untreated batches. Refrigeration only slowed the decline. HPP transforms traditionally risky cold brew into a veritable safety net. And the benefits don’t end with sanitation...

Preserving Cold Brew Quality with Pressure  

Let’s face it — what’s the point of keeping cold brew safe if the taste turns blah? Thankfully HPP’s crushing force selectively destroys only fragile cells, leaving flavor, nutrition, and shelf-life intact.

From the very first pressure-treated samples to the last at 90 days, zero significant dips emerged across quality measures. That included:

  • Solids
  • Acidity 
  • Color
  • Antioxidants
  • Overall visual and sensory profiles

Storage temperature, however, did impact some markers. After 2 months at room temperature:

  • pH dropped in both regular and HPP cold brew
  • Acidity and color variation increased 
  • But HPP batches changed less overall

Despite slight shifts over time, all cold brew remained within accepted flavor thresholds.

Added Insurance for Food Safety

With demand for cold brew still rising, HPP offers coffee companies an almost fool-proof processing backup. Protecting against rare outbreak risks proves essential in the world of food and beverage. In fact, from 2018-2019 Canadian researchers detected concerning aerobic microbes in 1 in 4 commercial cold brew samples. No actual pathogens turned up at that time. Even so, why leave safety to chance when HPP nips any hazard in the bud?

Satisfying Cold Brew Cravings Long-Term

No one welcomes a shortened shelf-life cutting precious cold brew enjoyment short. With HPP in their arsenal, coffee shops could confidently offer larger-format cold brew options. We’re talking ultra-refreshing growler fills and ready-to-drink (RTD) multipacks with staying power. So next time the fridge light reveals that stubborn half-full mug, don’t despair. Now you can brew, and more importantly drink, easily knowing each batch stays safe and scrumptious for seasons on end. Simply seek out HPP-treated offerings whenever possible. Your tastebuds will thank you the next day...and 90 days later.



Using extreme water pressure (HPP) to treat cold brew coffee killed pathogens like E. coli and preserved quality better than untreated coffee stored over 90 days. HPP provides a way to improve safety and shelf-life without high heat.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is high-pressure processing (HPP)?

A: HPP uses extreme water pressure, up to 87,000 PSI, instead of heat to kill bacteria, viruses, molds, and other pathogens in foods and beverages.

Q: How was HPP used on cold brew coffee in the study?  

A: The cold brew underwent 600 MPa pressure (87,000 PSI) for 3 minutes at 16-36°F.

Q: What happened to pathogens in untreated vs. HPP cold brew coffee?

A: HPP eliminated E. coli, Listeria, and Salmonella. In untreated coffee, they declined over 90 days but survived for weeks.  

Q: How did HPP impact the quality and flavor of cold brew coffee?

A: No significant negative changes occurred. Acidity, antioxidants, appearance, and taste remained stable while HPP still ensured safety.

Q: What changes did they observe in untreated cold brew over time? 

A: After 60+ days at room temperature, untreated coffee had slightly more acidity, color change, and antioxidant increase compared to HPP coffee. But all stayed within quality thresholds.

Q: Why is HPP useful for cold brew coffee production?

A: It gives near complete pathogen kill without altering the product's sensory qualities. This allows reliable scaling to larger formats and enhanced food safety.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.