For those of us who live north of the Mason-Dixon line, these summer months are known as iced-coffee season. Henceforth through mid-September, our afternoon coffee breaks will be taken while sucking on a straw and our at-home coffee routines made more complicated thanks to the additional step of chilling required. So, what’s the best way to ice one’s coffee? We’re so glad you asked.
1. Use an AeroPress: This is one of our favorite ways to make iced coffee — and is a fine way of making hot coffee, too. What’s not to love? It’s cheap (as little as $25 online), fast and easy to use, portable, makes single servings or up to four, looks like a chem-lab tool, and involves plunging. Simply use it like as directed, but when you “plunge” (press down the pump part of the contraption), do so over ice. The flavor of an AeroPress coffee is clean and true, whether poured hot into a mug or over cubes.
2. Cold-brew your coffee: Cold-brewing is the new black. If your local coffee bar doesn’t have one of those apothecary-looking super-slow-drip cold-brew towers, consider getting your java elsewhere. But not everyone is sold on cold-brewing. Brewing hot over ice (i.e., the Japanese way) is said to preserve the delicate flavors of the coffee. Brewing cold, however, is said to reduce acidity, which is preferable when sucking one’s coffee down like a Slurpee to beat the heat. To cold brew at home, mix together fresh-ground coffee and water (a lot, like 1 part coffee to 5 parts water) and steep, sealed, overnight. The next day, strain well through mesh, pour over ice and milk, and enjoy.
3. Add condensed milk: A note on sweetening. Black-coffee drinkers cringe at the very thought of it, yet the vast majority of people (65% of coffee drinkers in this country) take their coffee with cream, milk and/or sugar. And even those who don’t normally sweeten hot coffee will add sugar to iced coffee. They may be on to something. Want to be convinced? Add a spoonful of sweetened condensed milk to your iced coffee. The effects will be similar to Vietnamese-style iced coffee: rich and creamy, like coffee-flavored ice cream.
4. Shake it: If you order iced coffee in Italy, chances are you will end up with a Shakerato. This is a super-sweetened espresso shaken in cocktail shaker with ice. It’s actually not a bad way to chill a cup of joe. Pour a shot of espresso or strong coffee into a shaker with big, dense ice cubes. Add whatever sugar or milk you normally take, and shake. When you strain it into a glass, it comes out rich and foamy. You can serve this “up,” or without ice, so it won’t get watered down if you take your time sipping.
5. Add a twist: Believe it or not, citrus and coffee actually go pretty well together. Hey, if it works for tea, why not coffee? Pour espresso over a couple slices of lime and some ice and you’ve got yourself a Guillermo. Have it black or with a dash of milk — it even works with hot coffee. It’s one way to step up your java game (here are more).
6. Add booze: If you’ve already broken out the shaker and limes, you might as well raid the liquor cabinet while you’re at it. Coffee cocktails have gotten a pretty bad rap thanks to the mocha-flavored Espresso Martini. But it’s possible to add booze to your coffee with panache. Rum and brandy are natural friends of coffee, as are many anise-flavored elixirs. And there are now a number of well-made coffee liqueurs, such as Firelit Spirits Coffee Liqueur, a collaboration between Blue Bottle Coffee and St. George Spirits. Right about now, you’re probably wondering what an Irish Coffee tastes like iced… today is as good a day as any to find out.