If you prefer your coffee cold, you have likely noticed that it's often priced significantly higher than its piping hot counterpart. The reason for this varies by shop, but typically comes down to increased labor, longer preparation times, a higher coffee concentration or a combination of the three.
If you don't mind putting in a little time, you can replicate cold coffee at home while saving money in the process. Below are four different ways you can prepare your own iced coffee at home.
The most popular way to brew iced coffee is by brewing it hot and chilling it overnight. This is the way iced coffee is typically made in coffee shops.
This process gives you the same strong flavor and full acidity of hot coffee without the burned tongue. It also means the prep time is anywhere from 6 to 10 hours, not mere minutes.
To brew this coffee at home, brew your coffee as you normally would -- in an automatic brewer, pour over, French press and so on. But consider upping the dose of ground coffee by 30 to 50 percent to adjust for dilution from melting ice. Alternatively, you can freeze some of the coffee in an ice cube tray and add those instead of regular ice to avoid diluting your coffee.
Once the brew process is finished, move the coffee to a pitcher or carafe and place in the refrigerator, covered, until cool.
If you prefer your coffee sweetened, it's best to add sugar before chilling.
After it has cooled, you can serve it black over ice, with cream and sugar or, my favorite, over ice cream.
If you don't have time to wait, you can make iced coffee in the same amount of time it would normally take to brew a cup or pot.
To do this, you brew a higher concentration coffee, replacing some of the water you would normally use to brew with ice.
In other words, I typically brew with a 1:15 ratio, meaning for every 1 gram of coffee, I use 15 grams of water. For iced pour overs, I replace 1/3 of the water with ice. So if I were brewing with 30 grams of coffee, I would use 450 grams of water. For an iced pour over, however, I would use 300 grams of water and 150 grams of ice.
There are several variations of this style of brewing, which is often referred to as Japanese-style iced coffee. And while it provides the best results with the pour over method of brewing, it works with other brew methods, as well, such as the AeroPress, Clever Dripper or automatic brewers.
The result with the Japanese-style iced coffee is generally a much brighter cup of coffee which could be mistaken for being weak. If done correctly, it should produce a cup of coffee which is comparable in intensity and acidity to one that is slow chilled, but with much brighter tasting notes. This flash chilled style of brewing works best with medium to light roasts, as it tends to highlight floral- and fruity-tasting notes, and sometimes drinks more like a tea than a coffee.
While it's been around for decades, the ease of the brew process and much lower acidity is making cold brew an increasingly popular choice for those who drink their coffee cold. It's also among one of the more expensive menu items at coffee shops around the world, not only due to the long preparation times, but because it's often brewed at much higher concentrations.
A hot-brewed coffee might be made at a 1:15 to 1:25 coffee to water ratio. Cold brew is often brewed at a 1:4 to 1:8 ratio. Even after cutting the concentrate with water, it's a very strong coffee that's costly to make.
Unlike other brew methods, cold brew coffee requires room temperature water. As the name suggests, the coffee is never heated during the brew process. Instead, coarse coffee grounds are added to water and steeped at room temperature or in the refrigerator for anywhere from 12 to 24 hours. (If you steep in the refrigerator, the lower temperature will require a longer steep time.)
CNET's own Brian Bennett explains that you don't need any special equipment to make cold brew at home. As long as you have a way to filter the grounds from the coffee after brewing, you can make it in any pitcher or even a mason jar. That said, the filtering process and cleanup is much easier if you use one of the dedicated brewers, such as the or a .
Cold brew coffee usually tastes more nutty and chocolaty than cold coffee brewed with the other methods. It's also more forgiving when it comes to the beans used, and it's one of the easiest ways to make lots of coffee in one, large batch. You could make one batch on Sunday and have coffee to drink all week, versus having to brew coffee daily.
While not a brew method in and of itself, if you're more of the blended-ice coffee drink kind of person, you can use one of the above brew methods to add coffee to your morning smoothie. Iced coffee pairs very nicely with tons of flavors and ingredients: berries, citrus, caramel, nuts, vanilla, chocolate, cinnamon and, of course, pumpkin.
Not only will this add a jolt to your daily pick-me-up, it can also save you a costly trip to the coffee shop on your way to work.