Longer days, sunshine, higher temperatures… it’s time to talk about cold coffee! Here’s our quick guide to getting iced coffee onto your kitchen menu.
There are two basic ways to achieve your beverage: Iced Coffee, where you’re essentially just adapting your usual hot coffee recipe to accommodate ice, and Cold Brew where you slowly brew a concentrate with cold or room temperature water over many hours. Each has its own advantages.
Often referred to as “Japanese-style” iced coffee, making a drip or manual pourover directly over ice cubes is fast, easy, and more likely to preserve the unique flavor characteristics of your beans.
First increase your dose of ground coffee upwards by about 1/4 extra grounds (when in doubt, err on the side of too strong). Then simply brew as you normally would in your drip coffeemaker, Chemex, Hario V60, Kalita Wave, Beehive dripper, even your trusty Aeropress—but filling your receptacle with a lot of (preferably large) cubes of ice. Decant again into a serving pitcher or your glass with fresh cubes.
This is super simple and delivers instant gratification. Try it!
Cold Brew — and a Confession
Cold brew took the coffee bar world by storm and quickly became a sensation in bottles and cans on US grocery shelves. Definitely one of the biggest trends in specialty coffee over the last decade. But we’ll let you in on a little secret…
Coffeebars prefer cold brew to iced coffee as it’s easier to make in large batches, easier to hold and keep ready in concentrate form, and (the biggest reason) it’s incredibly forgiving of less-than-fresh beans. You can make a remarkably nice cold brew from beans that are several weeks past their freshness window. This one-neat-trick has helped fancy coffee bars better manage inventory and find a home for the beans they couldn’t sell or ordered too much of. That’s right, your fancy coffee bar’s premium cold brew is actually kind of their leftovers.
So why would you choose the cold brew option in your own kitchen? Well, cold brew tends to have really good body and sweetness, lending it a smooth sipping character that many prefer. And once you’ve made a concentrate, you can have several days worth of cold coffee ready to go with just a trip to the fridge. Not to mention, even if you’ve got your boutique coffee subscription service precisely dialed-in for your consumption habits, you still often end up with a bag of beans you don’t get through fast enough. Those beans will make great cold brew!
How to make Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate
There are many contraptions you can use to increase the ease, improve the clarity, and reduce the messiness of making cold brew concentrate, or you can use the simple cheesecloth-in-a-mason-jar method made popular by the New York Times, or just do it all in a large French press. Regardless of your weapon of choice, there are a few brewing basics that are universal…
- Coffee ground to a medium-coarse grind
- a 1:7 coffee-to-water ratio is a good place to start—1 gram of coffee for every 7ml of water, which is just over twice as much (~2.5x) coffee as you’d use for typical brewing
- cold or room temperature filtered water
- steep for around 12-18 hours at room temperature or 18-24 hours if in the fridge.
Dilute to taste and keep the concentrate in the fridge for enjoying over the next several days.
Whether you choose the quick iced coffee path or the slow poke cold brew, starting with expertly roasted beans with balanced, high dynamic range flavor and good body makes all the difference. We humbly suggest picking up a bag of our fresh and favorite!