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One early sign of Spring is the newest wave of iced coffee commercials from all the coffee brands. As the temperatures rise, millions of others like me put their coffee habit on freeze – literally.
Unfortunately, iced coffee often doesn’t carry its flavor as well as the hot variety. As a lifelong iced coffee fanatic, I’ve learned a few tricks for brewing, pouring and savoring iced coffee that tastes as good as fresh brewed morning coffee. Some of them are old hat to anyone who works with and around coffee. Others are not quite as well known. Here’s how to keep yourself in iced coffee all summer long.
1. Start with excellent coffee.
Just because you’re drinking it iced doesn’t mean you should sacrifice quality. Brew up a pot of your favorite coffee using fresh ground beans and pure water. That said, some coffees do stand up to icing better than others. Brazilian coffees (and other South American coffees) tend to be brighter and snappier, and make a more refreshing iced coffee. Ethiopian and Sumatran coffees are darker and earthier. While I love my coffee dark and earthy, some people find that an iced Yrgacheffe has a ‘dirty’ taste that’s absent when you drink it hot.
2. Brew it double strength.
Heat carries flavor further. If you’re going to ice your coffee, you’ll want to brew it stronger than normal – and not because the ice cubes will dilute it. The cold deadens some of the flavor. So fill up the filter basket higher than usual – or add a shot of espresso to your brew for more intense coffee flavor.
3. Use coffee ice cubes.
One of the biggest drawbacks to iced coffee is dilution of the coffee flavor when the ice cubes melt. Even worse, because the coffee and the water are different weights, the melted ice cubes will float on top of your coffee. Solve this problem by keeping a tray of coffee ice cubes in the freezer just for brewing coffee. Be aware though, that ice cubes absorb the odors and flavors of other foods in your freezer. Once they’re frozen, use immediately, or store them in an airtight plastic bag.
4. Resist the urge to keep a pitcher of cold coffee in your fridge.
It seems to make sense – brew up a pot of fresh coffee, pour it into a pitcher and refrigerate it so that you can just pour yourself an iced coffee whenever you want. Coffee begins to lose flavor as soon as it’s finished brewing. If you’re used to drinking fresh-ground, fresh-brewed coffee, then coffee that’s sat in the refrigerator for hours is going to taste completely stale and flat. Keep those bright notes alive by brewing fresh for your iced coffee.
5. Flavored coffees ice wonderfully.
If you’re a fan of flavored coffees, you’ll be thrilled to know that most flavored coffees ice up wonderfully. Fruity and chocolatey coffees are the best, but cinnamon and vanilla coffees also make great iced coffee.
6. Put the ice in first.
Don’t add ice to the coffee. Pour the coffee over ice, but before you do, add the sugar and then the cream. The coffee should be the last ingredient into your glass.
6. Skip the whip.
Use fresh milk or cream, but skip the whipped cream unless you’re looking for dessert.