Iced Coffee: Three Ways
You might have missed it, but yesterday was the first day of summer. If you were in New Jersey, the 95F weather probably has you pining for February already! Maybe not, but hopefully it’s got you thinking about iced coffee.
Most iced coffee is made by
- Brewing hot coffee;
- Dumping it over ice.
Most of it is terrible.
But it doesn’t have to be that way! For those of you who recognize the terms “Japanese iced coffee” and “cold-brew”, you already know what’s coming. For those of you don’t, you’re in for quite a treat. We’re also adding a third way that we’ve met with a lot of success.
Cold-brew (makes 2-3 cups)
- Take a natural processed coffee with a lot of sweetness (some Brazils, a natural processed Ethiopian) or a lower acidity coffee (Sumatra, Sulawesi, or Haiti);
- Grind 1/4 lb off coffee on a coarse setting (Metal Filter to French Press);
- Place the grounds in a French Press or a large Mason Jar;
- Add 24oz of cold water, gently stir so that all the grounds are soaked, and add the lid;
- Place it in the fridge for 12-48 hours**;
- Remove from the fridge and using a spoon carefully break up the clumps of grounds;
- Once the grounds have settled on the bottom (1-2minutes), press the French Press filter down slowly and pour into a cup or carafe. If you’re using a Mason Jar, rubber band a paper filter to the top and slowly(!) turn over on top of a cup or carafe.
- Dilute the concentrate with water to taste (about 1:1), add ice, and enjoy!!
Try our Eco Cafe Station, Haiti or our Cepco Cooperative, Mexico for an amazing, low-acidity, chocolatey, mouth-coatingly delicious cup of iced coffee! If you want something sweeter, try our Nigusie Farm, Ethiopia or our Rodomunho Farm, Brazil
**The exact time depends on the coffee and the size of the grind. Trial and error will help you zero in, but don’t worry too much. Since you’re not adding heat to it, the reactions that occur in seconds with hot coffee take hours with this cold brew method. It’s a forgiving way to brew coffee.
- Add 7g of ice cubes to a Chemex brewing carafe;
- Select a light and bright Central or East African coffee;
- Measure out 27 grams of your coffee;
- Grind medium-fine to fine (finer than paper filter, but coarser than espresso);
- Place a pre-wetted Chemex filter in a Chemex brewing device and add the grounds to the filter;
- Slowly add 8oz of hot (190F-208F)water to the grounds;
- Let all the hot water pass through the grounds and melt as much of the ice as possible;
- Once all the ice in the Chemex brewing carafe is mostly or entirely melted, compost your filter+spent grounds, pour your iced coffee into a glass with ice, and cool off!
Cold Bath Method (makes 2.5 cups)
When you hot brew coffee, you release delicate aromatics and flavors that make coffee taste delicious. If you like iced coffee, you also know that when the acidity behind some of these volatile aromatics break down, they often turn sour and unpleasant. Thus, cold brew iced coffee: never heat coffee up and you will never get those sour notes. Two problems with cold brew however: (1) you never get those amazing flavors; (2) The greatest enemy of coffee is oxygen. Like oil or fat, (in fact, because coffee is full of oils/fats) coffee goes rancid. Not that it will kill you, it just tastes stale. Cold-brew takes 12-48 hours to brew…that’s also 12-48 hours of exposure to oxygen. This, incidentally, is why hot coffee eventually tastes flat and generic: the staling process speeds up at warm temperatures.
To eliminate the staling process that occurs due to high temperatures and long exposure times, you can immediately cool coffee using the Japanese Brewing Method. By pouring the coffee through a filter onto ice, the coffee is immediately cooled, thus creating the delicate and delicious flavors, while eliminating staling and breakdown that occurs when coffee is held at a high temperature for any significant length of time.
To do this, however, you have to brew over ice, which dilutes your Chemex/pour over recipe. To compensate, you use a finer grind and use less hot water, but the coffee always tastes…different. It doesn’t taste the way it should when you brew it hot and enjoy those few fleeting minutes of perfectly temperatured bliss.
Enter the Cold Bath Method.
1. Prepare a Chemex as you would for a normal Chemex. Let’s say 36 grams of coffee for a 20 oz brew. Grind your coffee and add to a filter in the Chemex.
2. Set the Chemex in an ice bucket or metal/ceramic bowl and add ice around it to cover the bottom carafe.
3. Begin to slowly add water to create an ice bath. **Remember** your Chemex is full of air. If you overfill the ice bucket with water, your Chemex will float (and tip over)! Getting the right amount of water depends on the size of your bucket and Chemex and takes some practice.
4. Brew just like you would for brewing a Chemex.
5. When the brew is done, immediately pour the now cold coffee over ice into cups and serve! If you did it right, the ice in your cups will hardly melt because the coffee is already cooled. Our experience has indicated that the coffee will taste exactly the way it tastes when hot brewed…except that it’s cold (and extremely stable! You can enjoy it, if kept cold, for quite sometime after its brewed before staling or break down occurs).