To Drink: Iced Coffee

It’s a summertime tradition, to be sure, though for me iced coffee has been a bigger part of the season than usual this year. Has a lot to do with the heat, no doubt. While I was in New York City early June, during that heat wave, I drank a few iced coffees each day trying to beat the heat. Problem is, they go down so much quicker and easier than hot coffee, I was extra-wired that week. But they sure tasted good.

On that same episode of Splendid Table that got me on a burger bent, there was a discussion of iced coffee as well. Here’s the recipe for success that the guest, Peter Giuliano from Counter Culture in Durham, NC, shared that afternoon. His trick is brewing the coffee directly over loads of ice, so it chills immediately and preserves a level of flavor that will be more pronounced in the cold state. I’d never thought about that before, but it does make sense. As we know, cold dulls flavor, which is why a chilled

All ingredients in place

All ingredients in place

soup needs a bit more flavor punch than a hot one might. Since I already use a cone filter to brew my coffee directly into a vacuum pot, it’s an easy enough technique for me to add to my iced coffee ritual.

My secret to ideal summertime iced coffee has long been to not use regular ice cubes in the glass, instead making ice cubes with leftover coffee. Voila, no more diluted ice coffee. Fill a glass with those coffee cubes, pour over a couple tablespoons of sugar syrup, fill near to the top with coffee (I’m usually using yesterday’s leftover coffee) and pour in a generous slug of milk. I love watching that swirling, marbling effect the milk makes…. Sugar? I would never add it to hot coffee, no appeal whatsoever. But for some strange reason iced coffee contradicts my anti-sweet-tooth and cries out for a touch of sugar.

A couple of days ago, I was at a small media event at a Starbucks shop in Seattle touting the launch of their new line of drinks, Vivanno (more on that soon). I diverted the conversation for a bit to the subject of iced coffee. One of the Starbucks reps excitedly began describing the different characteristics that origin-specific coffees will contribute to iced coffees, richness from one part of the world, citrusy character from another.

Geez. And I was just concerned about the technique to produce the best iced coffee, hadn’t considered getting into the geography of my coffee bean choices. But Mr. Giuliano had also mentioned the coffee from Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia as a favorite to ice; he says it has lemony-jasmine notes that play out well when chilled. Obviously, I’ve got some more research to do. Any new revelations, and I’ll be sharing them here.


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