Iced Coffee Snobbery

Now that what felt like the longest winter ever seems to have passed, I'm starting to get back into drinking iced coffee. So are a lot of people, it seems; but I've been surprised how many people enjoy iced coffee even though they have absolutely no idea that it's made (or at least should be made) differently than hot coffee.

In fact, a lot of people honestly believe the correct way to brew a cup of iced coffee is to make a pot of hot coffee and then dump ice cubes into it. Aside from melting the ice immediately and severely watering down your drink - this method produces a cup of coffee that is sharply bitter and not pleasant to drink. Even if you brew hot and allow it to chill in the refrigerator, the result is the same. As a coffee snob, I can't allow people to go on thinking this is how it's done.

Last year Yglesias posted some pretty good instructions for brewing iced coffee. In my opinion though, his method can be messy and there's a simpler and better way of making this drink. Read on the see how I do it.

Start with a clean French press and your favorite coffee. For this demonstration I brewed a pot of Phoenix Coffee's Tanzanian Dark - one of my favorites. You can use whatever you'd like, just make sure the beans are ground coarsely.

The ideal amount of coffee grounds is debatable. I use six "scoops" if I'm making a full French press. Not very scientific, I know, but everyone seems to like it a little differently, so I'm not going to claim to know the "right" amount. Once you've put the grounds in, go ahead and fill the press up with cold water from the tap (or whatever source of water you use for coffee).

Stir the coffee grounds into the water and then stick the French press (water, grounds and all) into the refrigerator and leave it there for at least twelve hours.

Once the twelve hours has passed, place the lid on the French press and plunge. At this point some people like to dilute the coffee concentrate with more water. I like it as-is, with ice cubes and a little half-and-half when I'm ready to drink it.

I typically store the iced coffee in empty Vitamin Water or Gatorade bottles because it's really convenient to grab and go. When I'm ready to drink it, I add the ice cubes and the half-and-half and enjoy. Hopefully now you can too.


    On April 18, 2010 Mel said...

    I learned a similar method years ago when I worked for Caribou Coffee.

    I don't use a French Press though. I get some sort of weird pleasure scooping out the grounds from the top after it sits in the pitcher.

    On August 04, 2010 Nick said...

    I will have to try this, after moving to the Netherlands from the US, I can't find iced coffee anywhere!

    On August 12, 2010 Tim said...

    For undiluted coffee, make your ice cubes out of coffee instead of water. That way when they melt, your drink is still tasty.