Good iced coffee is much more than just the sum of its parts. The right method and the right coffee to use also depend on what you’re going for -- if you want a sweet, smooth, syrupy coffee, try the cold brew method and stick to coffees with darker chocolate and berry notes. (We use the Stumptown House Blend in our Cold Brew stubbies.) If you’re the fruity-floral type, an iced Aeropress of a single-origin Ethiopian coffee will do right by you. But beware: Iced coffees go down smooth and easy, but they pack a potent punch. Sip slowly, or add lots of ice, water, or milk to keep you from flying too close to the sun.
Now, to get down to brass tacks:
1. Don't brew drip coffee as you normally would and then pour it over ice. It will taste watery and bitter, and you’ll lose clarity and sweetness. Instead, try cold brewing. Making true cold brew takes time -- about 16 hours, in fact -- but it’s well worth the effort. The sweet, strong concentrate will last for about two weeks and will sail you through summer's warm, hazy days. We love the Filtron brewer for at-home cold brewing.
2. Use an Aeropress! This is another really great option for brewing iced coffee at home or on the go. It’s not cold brew, mind you, but it makes for a quick and portable, sweet and full-bodied brew that is oh-so-lovely when cooled down. We like the inverted method poured over ice, brewed with an espresso blend like Hair Bender. The ice dilutes the strong brew, and there’s no need to add water -- unless it’s a little too bold for your blood.
3. Make it into a float -- cold brew coffee is a dream with ice cream. Pair it with this Browned Butter Pecan Ice Cream and a dust of Jacobsen Coffee Salt, or top it with Vanilla Bean Coconut Milk ice cream for a dairy-free option.
4. Take it outside, because great coffee is even better with a view. Brew it yourself and pack it in a mason jar for road trips and rooftops. Stumptown also makes stubbies (and cartons with milk, coming soon to the East Coast!) to grab and tuck into coolers and picnic or bike baskets. You'll appreciate this when you’re on the road, face to face with stale gas station swill or heading home after a day in the sun.
5. Just add booze. Cold brew, combined with spirits, makes for a perfect brunch cocktail that's both buzzy and boozy. Start with the Firlock.
1 1/2 ounces Fernet Branca
1/2 ounce simple syrup
5 ounces cold-brewed coffee
Lemon twist, for garnish
Photos by James Ransom