Summer Hot, Coffee Cold

Advice for enjoying the best iced coffee this summer

With summer coming we’ll all be spending time at more third places — places where we hang out and socialize other than home or work. But between our trips to the ice cream parlor, the neighborhood pool and the park, the classic third place — the neighborhood coffee shop — won’t be forgotten. Iced coffee, in its various forms, keeps us loyal throughout the warmer months. For this year’s Hot Issue, we’ve put together a guide to summer coffee enjoyment, including directions on how to make your own iced coffee and what to avoid when you’re out and about.

While it’s probably worth the $4 it costs at a coffee shop to get your orange mocha Frappuccino when the craving strikes, plain iced coffee often tastes better homemade. A handful of local shops consistently get it right, but generally it’s a gamble.

Obviously, you can’t expect any flavor from hot coffee poured over ice. The ice melts, and you end up with lukewarm, watered-down coffee. So what do you do? Make a pot of coffee and put it in the refrigerator to use later for iced coffee? No. The coffee will go stale by the time it’s cool enough to use, and you still get excessive ice-melt in the cup. To get around this, all you need to do is brew your coffee doublestrength by using half as much water as normal. Less liquid will cool faster. You could also add the remaining volume of water in the form of ice, therefore cooling the coffee quickly while attaining proper strength.

It is important to remember, though, that a cold beverage will have less flavor than a hot beverage of the same concentration (example: warm beer=skunky, cold beer=refreshing). Because of this, it is important to use only dark roast coffees such as French roast or espresso blends. This is why a good iced coffee tastes good and drinking your hot coffee after it has cooled too much is gross — the iced coffee is stronger.

Follow this simple formula: For 48 ounces of iced coffee, use 24 ounces of water and enough ground coffee for 48 ounces (at least 16 tablespoons). After brewing, add 12 ounces of ice and stir. You will then have 36 ounces of strong, cool coffee. The refrigerator cools the coffee further, and the ice used in each cup makes up for the 12 ounces of liquid not yet accounted for. The result is a potent, brisk iced-coffee that wouldn’t piss you off if you bought it in a coffee shop.

Of course, there is an even better tasting and fail-safe method: cold-brewing. Stir the coffee grounds into cold water and let it brew overnight. In the morning, strain it using some kind of colander/coffee filter apparatus and prepare to drink the best iced coffee you’ve ever had.

Then again, for $2 you can have someone else make it for you while sitting in an air-conditioned coffee shop mooching free Internet. We’ll see you there.

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