After trying it cold, hot and every which way, we think that Sleepy Owl Cold Brew Packets are enjoyable but priced too high for coffee we brew ourselves. We found the cold brew in itself, caused fewer acidity symptoms in our testers, making it a welcome – but not quite scientifically proven as better – way to consume coffee.
Sleepy Owl is a cold brew only coffee company that sells cold brew packs and now bottles direct to consumer (D2C) or via Amazon or many offline retailers. Founded in 2016 in New Delhi by 👨🏻👨🏻👨🏻, Sleepy Owl caught our eye on Instagram with ads that had this. We ordered a few coffee brew packs – each priced at ₹100 per pack. Each pack brews ~3 cups of coffee with fairly straightforward instructions on the cover for what to do next. Steep the coffee sachet in 500 ml of water for between 12-24 hours. Store in the fridge and the brew will last a week. Simple.
How We Tested
We had three testers, all regular coffee drinkers. Between us, we truly enjoy everything from filter coffee to percolators and Nespresso machines. We also have a specific order at the coffee kiosks near work, avoid Starbucks, coffee on planes and have traumatic memories of flat, watery swill typical to some workplaces. That said, we have mixed Nescafe with hot water to stay up late nights and keep Bru at home just in case. We also drink tea. But most importantly, some of us have acidity – with a good dose of annoying heartburn that appears aggravated after a cup of filter coffee in the morning – an important detail because we are discussing cold brew.
The Cold Brew Coffee Deal
A lot has been said and read about cold brew. Here are a few recurrent themes:
- What’s the difference between iced coffee and cold brew? Coffee can be brewed at hot or cold/normal temperatures. Iced coffee is made with coffee that is brewed hot, to which folks usually add ice, milk and a whole host of other toppings as preferences go Cold brew involves steeping ground coffee at room temperature for an extended duration of time usually 12-24 hours. Post this steeping time; the coffee can be had chilled or hot with a similar assortment of fixes as iced coffee.
- Does it really cause lesser acidity in the human body than regular hot brewed coffee? The short answer is yes, it feels like it does. The longer answer involves breaking down the definition of acidity into pH levels and the presence of acidic compounds. From this study, we know that cold brew coffee was found to have lesser acidic compounds and antioxidants than hot brews, whereas their pH levels remained comparable between the two. That said, the link between any of these factors in cold brew and gastrointestinal symptoms has not been studied or documented scientifically just yet. Cold brew vendors and aficionados believe that cold brews are less acidic and more comfortable to drink for coffee consumers.
- What other widely held beliefs exist about cold brew? Well, some folks believe it smoother – and has more or less caffeine depending on who is answering. These are tricky factors to nail down, as there are so many variables involved. Caffeine content depends on factors like the brewing temperature, steeping time, and dilution. Smoothness, really depends upon the bean, grinding and dare I say your personal preferences. So there is no right brief answer here. Lots of discovery about cold brew remains.
What We Like About Sleepy Owl Cold Brew
- Packaging: Sleepy Owl brew packs come in simple, pleasant packaging – Very clean, peak D2C. Each sachet is ensconced in a sealed packet which when opened lets out the wonderful aroma of ground coffee. There were notes – and yes, we at Bentobox are partial towards notes – with a few highlights about the brand, the coffee and some.
- The Coffee: The coffee itself is quite enjoyable. We had it multiple ways – cold, hot, with and without milk, ice, and with equal parts, milk, and water. I personally preferred a tall glass version of the cold brew with ice and a dash of milk. By itself, I found the brew a wee bitter – perhaps influenced by my steeping time. I let it rest for a full 24 hours – the outer bound of the time limit recommended.
- Acidity: Now this is in no way empirical evidence, and neither can be it quantified – but I found the post-coffee consumption symptoms of acidity – namely heartburn – significantly reduced when I had the cold brew in its …cold iterations. So I cannot say if it is definitively, the cold brew, it could just be temperature. But it was an interesting observation because I do not usually take my coffee cold 🤷🏽 Who knew. Also, Sleepy Owl has 80 mg caffeine per 100 ml. Had to scour their tweets to find this tid-bit, should be on the pack!
What We Do Not Like About Sleepy Owl Cold Brew
- Waiting Time: We have an issue not so much with Sleepy Owl specifically, but more with the nature of making cold brew in itself. Steeping time of 12-24 hours requires you to make batches of brew beforehand and keep it around. If you run out, you cannot quickly brew another batch and keep going. If you prefer your coffee be of the instant gratification sort, where freshly ground beans transform into fresh brew in minutes – cold brew may not be for you.
- Pricing: With Sleepy Owl, we cannot pin down what exactly we are paying for: Is it the sachet? Is it the coffee?
- Let us take a look at the numbers. One pack of cold brew = 3 cups = ₹100 = ₹33.3 per cup.
- On average, 250 gms of ground coffee gives you ~35 cups (industry standard says ~7 gms of coffee per cup).
- If we take the cold brew blend from the other well-known coffee brand in India – Blue Tokai, we have 250 gms for ₹400 = ~ ₹11 per cup.
- In both cases, we the end consumer do the brewing/steeping and add the fixings. So why the 200% markup? The price is probably the biggest hurdle to get over with Sleepy Owl as a consumer. Coffee is an everyday thing, and we are used to everyday prices or at least paying a premium for something – the bean, the ambiance of a coffee shop, etc. So unless cold brew is a novelty product for special occasions or the cold brew parties that news outlets claim to happen in Bangalore, this pricing jump makes me a reluctant if a favorably inclined consumer.
- Disposal: This is not so much a downside but a call out for those of us who do waste segregation – there is a little work here post steeping the sachet. You will have to tear open the sachet and dispose of the coffee grounds with the wet waste and dump the wrapper in with the recyclables such as paper and plastic. I do not know the exact composition of the sachet – I asked Sleepy Owl and they told me the sachet was bio-degradable, which is good to know and appreciated – but does not tell me much more about its half-life.