Cold coffee, with or without ice in it.

Recipe:

Simple syrup is better than sugar as a sweetener for iced coffee (or anything else cold, like iced tea), since cold liquids do not disolve sugar very well.

While you can procure this tasty and refreshing beverage at practically any coffee shop, I have not been able to find any pre-packaged renditions that do not contain some sort of milky stuff and much sweetness. Oddly enough, $tarbucks does not sell iced coffee, at least not in my bit of the world. They will make you an iced Americano (espresso + water), but it's just not the same.

You will occasionally find blended drinks being called iced coffee (e.g. espresso + ice + milk + sugar, run through the ol' Osterizer); some include alcohol or other flavorings. However, "true" iced coffee is just cold coffee.

Surprisingly, iced coffee is obviously a beverage that has significant cultural variation. In Australia an iced coffee (or ice coffee, both are used) is a cold milky coffee drink served in a tall glass (often a milkshake glass).

In relation to coffee it's more like a caffe latte, as the liquid is primarily milk rather than water. Interestingly, iced coffee's popularity pre-dates the widespread drinking of caffe latte here by at least 20 years.

Ours is a lot more appealing than the (I presume) US version which is merely chilled coffee.

Recipe, Australian style:

  • Put 1-2 scoops of vanilla ice cream into a tall glass.
  • Make a shot (or double shot) of espresso coffee.
  • Pour the shot over the ice cream, which will melt some of it.
  • Fill the rest of the glass with milk.
  • Add 2 ice cubes, stir.
  • Optional toppings include whipped cream, and a dusting of cocoa powder.
  • Drink with a straw, or from the glass if you want a milk mustache.

The ice cubes are necessary for sufficient cooling, due to the heat of the espresso. You can make it with chilled espresso coffee, but you'll have to either wait longer for the ice cream to melt or just eat the ice cream while it's solid. If you ask me it's not as nice that way.

If you really don't like sweet coffee you can omit the ice cream, in which case chilling the coffee first is essential.

In the mid 1990s (and possibly still), the Nestle company sold what were essentially cocktail shakers under the Nescafe instant coffee brand. The (bad) idea was that you could make iced coffee by simply adding all the ingredients into the device and shaking sufficiently. Even ignoring its inherent evil, it isn't easy to get instant coffee to dissolve in cold milk.

Australian flavored milk brand Big M has an "Ice Coffee" flavor, which has been available since the 1970s and is one of their 4 staple flavors (the others being Chocolate, Strawberry and Banana). Since it's marketed to kids, it does not contain any caffeine, rendering it essentially useless.

Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee

Have you ever had a coffee, iced or otherwise, that made your eyes roll back in pleasure? That made you realize that maybe all the fancy coffee tasting snobs aren't just blowing hot air with their talk of flavor profiles, fruitiness, nuttiness, smokiness, and other strings of nouns made out of adjectives? It's a eureka moment, and I had one the first time I made cold-brewed iced coffee — and not just because that turned out to be ridiculously easy.

The first time I knowingly drank cold brew was at the Blue Bottle branch in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, just last summer. I'm sure I'd had it before then, without knowing what made certain iced coffees better than others, but that particular New Orleans style iced coffee pretty much blew my fool mind. It was subtle, smooth, sweet... see, there I go with the adjectives myself. Was it the chicory that made it magic? I'll probably never know). But later that summer, I Googled for "cold brew coffee" or a similar search string, and learned how to make the stuff myself. Here's more or less how:

Ingredients and Equipment

  • 2/3 cup whole coffee beans
  • coffee grinder
  • 2 quart-size Mason jars and at least one suitably-sized lid
  • water
  • paper coffee filter and funnel or other way of holding said filter in place

What You Do

  1. Grind the coffee. There is considerable debate as to how finely the coffee should be ground; since I don't have a fancy burr grinder I tend to have a pretty wide range of ground sizes anyway but I do tend to let the grinder go a little longer than I would if using a French press because I know I'm going to be using a paper filter later.
  2. Put ground coffee in one of the Mason jars. Add cold water until the jar is nearly full, but leave a little room for the beans to expand as they moisten. (The first cold brew recipe I learned called for 1 1/2 cups water to 1/3 cups beans, but when I used a little more than 3 cups on 2/3 cups beans the results were still delicious, so I wouldn't stress the exact measurements too very much — I get even more touchy-feely later on, you'll see.)
  3. Put the lid on the jar, give it a turn to mix everything together, and let it sit at room temperature overnight (at least 8 hours).
  4. Strain the coffee-water mixture through a paper filter held in a funnel or similar, placed on top of the other jar. This can take a while, especially if your beans are super-finely ground, so be patient. If you don't get all the grounds out of the jar on the first try, feel free to rinse it with some more cold water and strain again (cold brew is pretty strong and is sometimes served diluted with equal parts water or milk, so a little extra water here is fine). I usually end up with a little less than a quart of cold brew after all the rinsing and straining is done.
  5. Serve cold brew over ice, diluted with milk or water to the strength of your choice (although I prefer half and half in regular coffee, I find it almost too rich in cold brew — drowns out flavors and all that). If desired, sweeten with simple syrup.

And that's it! Really.

Now cold-brewing tea, that's a story for another day.

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Cross-posted to my li'l food blog but originally written for right here, oh yes.

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