Photo by Jason Hornick for Express

Cold-brewed coffee is just hot coffee poured over ice, right? Wrong.

Instead, the cold-brew process swaps piping hot water for room-temperature water, and requires grounds to steep for up to 24 hours.

What results is a batch of coffee — which can be served iced or heated — that’s much less bitter than coffee brewed the traditional way. According to a study conducted by Intertek in 2005, cold-brewed coffee contains about 65 percent less acidity than coffee brewed in hot water, making it a viable alternative for sensitive stomachs.

[See also: How to make cold-brew coffee at home in four steps]

“When you brew with cold water over a longer period of time, you extract the fruity and chocolaty notes as well as the caffeine, but you don’t extract the bitter notes,” says Terry Darcy, co-founder of Confluence Coffee Co., a D.C.-based line of cold-brew coffees.

There are two primary types of the joe: ready-to-drink and concentrated, the latter of which is meant to be diluted with water or milk. At specialty stores across D.C., you can find both kinds bottled locally by the following cold-brew producers.

Confluence Coffee Co.
Longtime friends Terry Darcy and Mike Woitach founded Confluence in D.C. in April with three flavors: original, lemon and mocha. Using beans from Blanchard’s Coffee Roasting Company in Richmond, the two make a ready-to-drink cold brew that’s fruity and chocolaty. Beans are aged with oak chips before being steeped in water for 24 hours, lending the drink a subtle smoky flavor. Confluence is also readying to release a canned version of its joe that’s infused with nitrogen, making it even creamier.

junius Photo by Jason Hornick for Express

Junius Cold Brew Coffee Company
June Blanks’ cold-brew coffee is strong, but that’s because it’s a concentrate and meant to be diluted. “It gives you some flexibility in how you can use it,” Blanks says. “You’re able to make cocktails or bake with it.” The Rising Sun flavor is made using a blend of five coffee bean varieties from Ethiopia, Colombia and beyond. “It gives the coffee an almost milk chocolate-like flavor,” Blanks says.

growl Photo by Jason Hornick for Express

Growl’s double-filter brewing process results in a smoother-than-average cup of joe. Like Junius, Growl sells a concentrated formula that’s meant to be diluted (one 32-ounce bottle can make up to eight cups of coffee), as well as a ready-to-drink variety. If you see a bottle at your grocery store, be sure to grab it: Matthew Snyder, president of Growl, is phasing out production and closing the business.

Other ways to get your buzz:

Why you should be drinking more cold-brew coffee

Where to participate in coffee cuppings in D.C.

Mockingbird Hill serves a $30 cup of coffee, and other pricey cups of joe in D.C.