They say that drinking hot beverages on a hot day actually helps lower your body temperature—has anyone ever tested that theory? All I know is that the 90˚+ temps shown in the forecast mean it’s going to be a brutal week for those of us who live and die by our oven and stovetop burners.
It’s weeks like these that the world’s coffee addicts turn to the iced version, and as someone who’s back on the coffee wagon, I’ll most definitely be joining them. But you absolutely know I’m not fooling around with that watered-down Dunkin’ Donuts stuff when I can be guzzling a far superior iced coffee from the comforts of my back porch.
Iced Coffee Tips and Tricks
- Go New Orleans-style and cold-brew your coffee. As Oliver Schwaner-Albright notes in the New York Times piece that introduced me to the greatest iced coffee method, “Unless you’re familiar with coffee concentrate, New Orleans iced coffee is a puzzling ritual.” It seems so unnecessary at first—why go to the trouble when you can just store brewed coffee in your fridge?—but cold-brew coffee gives you a deeper, more pure flavor without any of the bitterness that comes from drinking hot-brewed coffee that’s been cooled down. Here’s how to make enough iced coffee to last for more than a month.
I use the ratio of 18 cups water to 1 pound coffee grounds (that’s 1 gallon + 2 cups), and as the Times suggests, sometimes I like to use a chicory-coffee blend—Café du Monde‘s house blend, to be exact. If you’ve never had chicory coffee, try a little before committing to the full can. Chicory root has a distinctively sweet and grassy taste, and if it’s not your bag, just make sure to use a dark roast for your concentrate.
Pour the coffee grounds into a large punch bowl or stockpot, then add the water slowly, stirring gently at first to create a sludgy, fully hydrated mixture, then swirling the water down the edges of the bowl to make sure all the grounds are submerged. Let the mixture sit overnight.
In the morning, strain the coffee concentrate through a mesh sieve (not a colander!) into a large bowl, then wait 15 minutes before straining once more—pouring slowly—into a storage/serving container so the fine grounds will sink to the bottom of the bowl. You’ll see the liquid become thick, like wet sand, as you finish pouring.
Coffee concentrate packs a lot of flavor into a little bit of liquid, so it’s a good option for those with limited space in the fridge. If you want to keep higher-octane concentrate on hand, reduce the ratio to 10 cups water per pound. Mix 1/4 cup coffee concentrate with cold, filtered water and a splash of milk for an excellently rich yet soothing coffee.
- Make coffee ice cubes. Take the coffee concentrate you just made and pour it into two ice cube trays (don’t worry, you won’t use up too much of your precious concentrate by doing this). Allow to freeze, then store the coffee ice cubes in a large Tupperware in the freezer.
Use these cubes instead of regular ice cubes to keep your coffee chilled; as they melt, they’ll just turn back into coffee concentrate and nothing’s going to get watered down. Add more cold milk if you want an extra helping of iced coffee.
- Use simple syrup. If the chicory blend doesn’t sweeten your iced coffee up enough and you’d like to add an extra hit of sugar, don’t just reach for the sugar bowl. The granulated stuff doesn’t dissolve well in cold drinks—think of how long it takes to stir a sugar packet into iced tea when you’re out at a restaurant—but the same simple syrup used when mixing cocktails works perfectly in iced coffee and iced tea too.
Add a vanilla bean husk or a few drops of almond extract while the syrup cools down to make a flavored version for your iced coffee, and make a full cup sugar/cup water’s worth to keep in the fridge all summer. Both the coffee concentrate and the simple syrup won’t go bad for at least a month when kept chilled, so you’ll be golden.
RELATED: Want some ideas for meals that don’t involve turning on your oven? I’m on the case with ideas for hot-weather cooking, like toaster-oven lamb chops, chicken involtini, and stove-top mac and cheese.