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Iced Coffee

Photo Credit: Sina Mizrahi

You may be someone who needs a cup of coffee to start the day, or perhaps you drink a cup as an afternoon pick-me-up, or maybe you just occasionally sip it because it’s a tasty drink. Depending on where you fall on the spectrum of coffee dedication, you may go to greater lengths and expend greater effort to extract all the flavor from the bean.

I’m married to a coffee enthusiast (thank you for your insight and help in picking a winner), whereas I approach coffee more casually (the horrors!). Still, I will venture to say that iced coffee in the summer is really refreshing. Using fresh coarsely ground coffee in a dark roast, I experimented with four methods to see which one yielded the best flavor with relative ease.

Method 1: Cold Brew

Cold brew is a method of steeping coarse ground coffee in cold water for an extended period of time and then straining.

In a medium-sized jar, combine 1 oz (6 Tbsp) coarse ground coffee beans with 1 cup water. Allow to sit for 18–24 hours. Pour through a coffee filter. Dilute with water using a 1:1 ratio (12 cup cold brew to 12 cup water). Add sweetener, milk of your choice, and ice. Enjoy!

Method 2: Cold Brew in a French Press

In the jar of a French press, combine 1 oz (6 Tbsp) coarse ground coffee beans with 112 cups water. Cover and let sit for 18–24 hours. Plunge filter down and pour into a cup. Add sweetener, milk of your choice, and ice. Enjoy!

Method 3: Japanese Pour Over

Place a large carafe over a digital scale and tare to zero. Add 8 oz of ice. Set a dripper cone on top and line with a coffee filter. Set to zero again. Add 1 oz coarsely ground coffee. Set to zero. Pour just enough boiling water to wet the coffee and let it stand for 30 seconds. Resume pouring water until the scale reads 8 oz.

Allow the water to drip completely. Discard ground coffee. Add sweetener and milk of your choice and serve immediately.

Note: Japanese-style iced coffee is iced coffee that’s brewed hot directly onto ice so it chills rapidly. The initial hot water blooms the coffee and extracts all the flavors and then the chill preserves the bright, clean flavor. You definitely taste a difference between this method and the others, especially when enjoyed black. I used Bodum’s Pour Over Coffee Maker, but any pour-over device works.

Method 4: Instant Coffee

Add 1 tsp instant coffee to a coffee cup and pour in 1 cup boiling water. Add sweetener and milk of your choice. Add enough ice to cool and enjoy.

My Verdict

Coffee is so subjective, so there was no clear, undisputable winner, but I would vote for the Japanese pour-over method. It yielded a smooth, flavorful cup and I found it easy and quick to make. The exact directions and accuracy make it foolproof, and I get the same result every time. The only downside is that you need an extra piece of equipment.

The cold brew had the boldest flavor with strong, bitter notes. That method, though it requires advance planning, makes a large batch and can be diluted to suit your palate. The French press was similar to cold brew. Although the French press makes it convenient and less messy to separate the coffee from the beans, the taste wasn’t particularly superior. The instant coffee wasn’t bad, just blander when compared to the freshness and flavor of the freshly ground coffee beans.


(Originally featured in Family Table, Issue 856)

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