Story & pictures by Ken Taylor
Iced Coffee Made Easy (and Fun)
I find that many coffee lovers don’t realize how fun and easy iced coffee can be. There are so many different ways it can be done. If you do a Google search and start clicking on links, you’ll probably find different instructions at each website you visit. That can be intimidating because then how do you know which one is right?
That’s why instead of instructions, I’m going to give you a guiding principle. In fact, I’ll break it down into one “Don’t” and one “Do” that can guide all of your iced coffee-making endeavors:
Don’t: just make hot coffee the way you normally do and then add ice. This will make iced coffee, no doubt, but it will be diluted and watery.
Do: however you brew, whatever ratio of coffee grounds to water you normally use, double the amount of grounds.
Don’t do the “Don’t.” Do do the “Do.” Everything else is just details. To help you get started, I’ll give you an idea of what some of those details might look like.
There are two most basic ways you might go about making iced coffee. The first would be to make the coffee hot first. Using this method, you would just brew it like you normally brew your hot coffee, but double the amount of grounds that you use. This can be done with just about any kind of brewing method: drip machine, pour-over, French press. (Just don’t try it with espresso, it’s already super concentrated! You could damage your equipment trying to pack in that much coffee.) After you’ve brewed the coffee, just add an equal volume of ice. You can measure it by weight if you have a scale. Otherwise, just eyeball it. Add ice until it looks like the volume has doubled.
The other method is called cold brew. It’s called that because you don’t use hot water at all. Using coarsely-ground coffee (again, twice the amount you would normally use), let it steep in cold or room-temperature water for at least 12 hours, but no more than 24. Then you just need a way to separate the grounds from the brew. The easiest way is to use a French press and press it just like you would normally do for a hot brew. You could also pour it through a paper filter, or purchase any of the various kits that are designed for making cold brew (such as the Toddy). Anything that lets water through and keeps grounds out will do.
Pick a method, try it out, and then just keep refining to suit your personal tastes. This is where it really becomes fun because the more you do it, the closer you’ll get to producing exactly what you like.
And if you really want to get adventurous, try changing up the old sugar and cream routine. Personally, I like experimenting with simple syrups and cocktail bitters. My favorite concoction that I’ve ever made was a Burundi Kirema coffee by Cafeciteaux, made iced using the pour-over method, with a peach simple syrup. It was every bit as delicious and refreshing as a great peach iced tea.
Another recipe I created recently, after lots of trial and error, is something I’ve named the “Sassy Momma.” It’s cold brew with a sassafras-cardamom syrup, El Guapo’s chicory-pecan bitters, and cream. There’s lots of great places here in Baton Rouge to shop for syrups, spices, and bitters. A little browsing at Calandro’s, Rouse’s, or Red Stick Spice is sure to give you lots of inspiration.
So, what are you waiting for?
Spring is here. It’s pretty much summer already. Start your iced coffee adventure!