We’ve come a long way from “iced coffee” simply meaning the three-day-old joe you stashed in the fridge, forgotten. Same goes for cafés, for whom the stuff used to be an afterthought. Remember when drive-throughs could get away with selling you one part coffee, nine parts ice?
Those days are gone, and thank goodness. Consumers are bananas for iced coffee, and purists run amok. It’s a simple pleasure, really, just coffee beans, ground and steeped in room-temperature water, usually for between six and 20 hours. Diluted with more water or milk, it’s a concentrate that stashes well in the fridge. Those who love it tend to like its smoothness; hot water brings out the acidity in coffee beans. But as is true of most things with obsessives, there are a million variations on the classic.
Some Japanese-style coffee is actually hot coffee brewed right on to ice cubes, retaining its acidity, whereas Kyoto-style coffee refers to a super-precise slow-drip contraption that looks like a sculpture. Nitro cold brew, which you can make on your own or buy in a beer can, refers to coffee infused with nitrogen, so it’s fizzy. Vietnamese iced coffee almost always involves sweetened condensed milk, and it’s amazing: a one-stop shop for those who take cream and sugar. The Greek Frappé involves shaking strong European instant coffee with sugar and ice. German Eiskaffee up the ante with cold coffee, ice cream, whipped cream and German chocolate. With a world of good options available, here’s how we’re loving our iced coffee right now.
1. The Gear
Although yes, you could make iced coffee with about a 1 to four or five ratio of ground beans to room-temperature water in a big container and then strain it many hours later, there are easier, less messy ways to do this. Consider a stylish cold-brew coffee jug you could just stash in the fridge as it strains itself. Or an automatic cold-brew maker, which uses a unique spin technology to get you the good stuff in 25 minutes! We’ve even got some tiny, travel-friendly options, for those who can’t live without cold brew on the road.
2. The Beans and Syrups
We’ll admit it: Our site is run by joe obsessives. So while you’re picking out the perfect cold brew brewing, consider stocking up on beans and syrups! There’s no need to drive to a place that makes large-batch iced coffee, waters it down, and charges you $5. We’ve got the vanilla syrup you crave and excellent beans. You can stash the cash in savings.
3. The Vessel
You’ve done all this work. (Or not; maybe you’ve just waited overnight!) But don’t serve that gorgeous cold brew in a giant jar missing its lid, or a tiny glass into which you can’t even fit the ice cubes. Our Double Wall Glass Tumblers keep hot coffee hot and cold coffee cold, so you can use them for your caffeine fix in any season.
4. The Variations
Here’s where it gets fun. Take inspiration from the ideas above, and expand your chilly cold brew horizons. Go for a Thai-inspired iced coffee redolent of crushed cardamom pods. Or make a truly fabulous vanilla bean iced coffee (yes, you can!) for brunch with the in-laws you need to impress. We have our own super-simple frappe, which requires only a good blender. And in Italy and America alike, they’re making affogatos, pouring espresso right over vanilla ice cream, a riff on the classic we can get behind any time of day.
5. For Later
You got your cold-brew just perfect. You make it daily. Every day is beautiful. But one day the cat gets sick/ you have a headache/ everything goes awry. And the next day you wake up with no iced coffee in the house. Zero. Thank goodness you thought ahead, filled our King Cube tray with giant iced coffee cubes and popped them in resealable bags, and they’re ready to roll. You are one lazy sunbeam away from proper iced coffee in a flash. Ahhh.
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