August 17, 2011

Iced Coffee: Methods Compared

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A recent article in the local newspaper made me examine my own methods of brewing iced coffee. While many coffee shops use the cold brew method of making a concentrate, I feel like it lacks body and the back end of the flavor profile, overwhelming the experience with caramel and chocolate flavors that just don't make the the bright, sharp velvety experience that I want. I happen to agree with George Howell who says, "Cold brewing ruins the coffee."

I like two methods:

Iced Espresso (Americano) - brew your favorite shot of espresso into a glass of ice cubes, add sugar, a plash of milk and stir. I use a Nespresso Pixie a lot of the time, but also use a standard pump espresso brewer to brew up coffees I find from local roasters. I also tend to use two shots; one just isn't enough.

Drip Coffee Brewed and Cooled - Brew a pot, pour your giant size mug, and shut off the carafe for iced coffee later. The important thing is to shut off the brewer quickly so the coffee doesn't cook on the hot plate. If you've got room, pour your first cup and then plunge the carafe into the refrigerator. I tend to go back to the pot throughout the day for iced coffee refreshment. With the coffee cooled, it won't get as diluted when you add ice. Sip and enjoy.

Arabica and not Robusta - I like a little Robusta in my espresso, more body, and a "Classic flavor" It can be overdone and it's a personal taste that's not for everyone. I DO NOT like iced espresso with Robusta in it as the burnt rubber flavors somehow scream through the iced coffee flavors and ruin an otherwise good cup. I would recommend a medium dark roast with a good amount of acidity and late coffee flavor in the profile. Too light a roast and you'll lose the coffee flavor to the ice and milk, and too little acidity and you'll lose the coffee balance that rounds out the flavors.

See the Bodum Pavina glasses for a great iced coffee experience with no sweating on the glass.

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Posted by Scott Martin at August 17, 2011 8:16 AM
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