August 11, 2010

The Best Iced Coffee?

I like coffee, and brew a fair amount in the summertime for drinking it iced. This morning the Wall St. Journal had an article talking about the best iced coffee brewing methods, exploring several options. Net, they didn't seem all that impressed with anything, so I have to ask, why are they touting the article as "Making the Perfect Cup of Iced Coffee" (print edition teaser on the front page) - the actual title is "Why Making Iced Coffee at Home is Such a Grind". It can be a grind if you get bad results, but they do discuss several key topics:

Cold Brew - leaves behind some acid, and a lot of flavors. The lower acid can be a good thing for some drinkers who are sensitive to it, but for the most part, acidity in coffee helps to bring out the flavors and brings a certain amount of crispness and brightness to the cup.

Hot Brew & Dilution - While Hot brewing and subsequent chilling can get you a nice flavor profile, dilution with ice can be an issue. Great flavors overly diluted just means a bad glass of iced coffee.

So while the WSJ tried out a few cold brewers including the Coffee Toddy , the new Bodum Cold Press, and the Hourglass Coffee Maker System, they did not try out an espresso diluted to iced coffee strength.

Here are a couple of tips that I would offer anyone seeking the best iced coffee brew:

  1. Brew a shot to three shots of espresso and then dilute with ice and milk adding sugar when still chilling to get the right blend of flavor, sweetness and strength for your taste.
  2. Choose an all Arabica blend - the "traditional" blends of espresso include Robusta coffee, which while I love that full bodied dark flavor in hot espresso, it comes across as a bit of rank pungency in an iced coffee. So if you are using ground coffee, make sure you find a 100% Arabica blend, preferably a little more full bodied than your usual hot espresso choice, but it needn't be an italian roast to make a good iced espresso. If you are using ESE Pods find a good 100% Arabica blend - I like the Espressione Pods.
  3. Brew into iced cubes in a glass or cup that can handle the heat and cold; I use the larger Bodum Pavina glasses for this. If you can't fit a glass under the brew head, brew into a shot glass or espresso cup and pour over the ice.
  4. Go ahead, brew an extra shot - iced coffee made with an espresso shot is really a great drink, you'll want to have a larger glass than you'd expect.

You can also brew iced coffee through Keurig K-Cup makers on the iced coffee setting in their B-70 model. Check out more information about their recent iced coffee K-cups at our sister site

Cheers - here's to a hot August and a lot of cool coffee this month.

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Posted by Scott Martin at August 11, 2010 8:16 AM
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