Upgrade Your Comfort Beverages: Making Iced Coffee That Doesn’t Suck
It’s been awhile since we’ve had a Home Economics lesson, and because the weather around San Francisco has been “hella nice” as they say (no one says that), I find myself switching from oppressive, scalding hot coffee to it’s kinder, gentler iced coffee cousin. Blue Bottle is great and they make the best goddamned New Orleans-style iced coffee I’ve ever had (Now available in Brooklyn as well) but like everything else that is delicious in this world, that $2 for a paper cup of ice cubes, caffeine and cream starts to add up. Lucky for you, I’ve been perfecting my at-home iced coffee brewing method (mostly by searching the internet) so that you don’t have to mess around with all this stuff and you can get straight to enjoying the sun while pleasantly caffeinated and cool as a cucumber.
First, you’ll want to avoid the cardinal sin of iced coffee: Do NOT just put the old coffee from this morning in the fridge and call it iced coffee in the afternoon. I think I’ve said this before, but that’s just disgusting. It’s not a slice of pizza and you’re not in a frat house. It’s coffee and you’re a grownup.
Second, you’ll need the following:
– A shitload of ground coffee (apparently you want medium-coarse grind, is pretty standard for regular coffee brewing)
– 2 containers to brew in (Big pitchers or something, use your head.)
– some kind of straining device (Regular coffee filters will do in a pinch)
– Some water (coffee nerds will tell you to only use filtered water, but we can’t all be drinking Evian all the time.)
– A couple hours to let it sit in the fridge. (Let it sit overnight if you really want a buzz in the morning.)
Alright, so now you’re ready to go. I’m not going to bother telling you how much coffee you should or shouldn’t make, but as a rule of thumb you’ll want to mix 4 parts water with 1 part coffee grounds. Unlike regular coffee brewing, you don’t filter out the grounds until the almost the last step. Instead just mix the coffee and water, put a lid on that sucker and let it chill out in the fridge for at least a couple hours. Longer brewing is going to get you some more caffeine, so if you can stand to wait, do it overnight.
Now don’t get too excited once you’ve brewed the coffee, you don’t want to take a big gulp off coffee grounds unless you’re totally hardcore and you like everything unfiltered. (Actually, I think you’re just being difficult.) Anyway, it shouldn’t take a genius to figure out that you’re gonna need that second container/pitcher thing now, so pour whatever you’ve been brewing in the fridge through whatever filter device you have set up. Like I said, you could go with a mesh strainer or cheesecloth if you have that, but no one I know keeps cheesecloth around so I just use the re-usable metal-screen coffee filter from my regular coffee pot. I suppose you could even use an old t-shirt. You’re broke, do what you gotta do.
Once you’ve gotten everything all clean and filtered, that’s pretty much it. Congratulations! You’ve successfully made it to the same skill level as a barista in West Stamford, Connecticut. You win!
Oh, but I should also mention that, depending on how much water you used, your iced coffee could be way stronger than usual. If you want to go Vietnamese-style you could add condensed milk to cut it a little bit, but since you don’t live with your grandmother I’m will to bet you don’t have any condensed milk lying around. Cream or Half-and-half will make you a nice New Orleans-style iced coffee, but you don’t have to get all fancy on it. Just mix whatever milk or milk substitute floats your boat. The key is that it’s something you actually want to drink.
PRO-TIP: For added authenticity, swipe a cold beverage to-go cup from a coffee shop (don’t forget the straw), because it doesn’t really count if you can’t store it conveniently in the cupholders of your minivan.