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The Best Way to Make Iced Coffee

Forget cold brew and forget pouring your coffee over ice. The best iced coffee is brewed hot and concentrated with an Aeropress, slowly cooled down, then served like a cocktail.

First, let me answer a few questions:

Why do you hate cold brew?
I don’t hate it, in fact I even drink it from time to time. It is just this method is better. Cold brew takes more beans, takes much longer to brew (12 hours!), and is messier to clean up. I always have to strain mine because I don’t like sludge. The taste is a bit off, too. Brewing coffee with hot water releases oils and compounds that you won’t get by brewing it at lower temperatures. This means that cold-brewed coffee is missing part of its essential flavor profile. Why would you settle for that when you can have better?

Why can’t I just pour my hot coffee over ice or brew my V60 over ice?
Well, you can. I won’t stop you. I probably won’t drink the result, either. Pouring hot liquids over ice melts the ice and dilutes the liquid. Unless you have exceptionally great ice, it will also change the favor even if you start out with a concentrate. Let ice melt in a glass and then drink it. It probably doesn’t taste nearly as good as the water you made the ice with. It picks up flavors in your freezer, and not the kind of flavors you want in your coffee.

So what can we do?
The answer is to make legitimately good, hot coffee and then cool it down without diluting it.

I was first introduced to this method on Marco Arment’s blog. He gets the credit for coming up with the idea.

If you don’t have an AeroPress yet, get one. It is only $30 and makes one of the best cups of coffee you can possibly make at home. Here is what the contraption looks like:

 

Instructions

  1. Measure out 40g of coffee beans on your kitchen scale. (For reference, this is quite a bit. It will look comical. I use between 15 and 25g of coffee for a normal cup. The goal is to make it concentrated here.)
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  3. Grind the beans like you normally would for an AeroPress (about as fine as table salt). Consult Google for the correct grind setting on whichever grinder you use.
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  5. Put the grounds into the AeroPress and brew it as your normally would. Here are regular instructions and here are instructions for the inverted method that I use.
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  7. Pop out the puck/clear out the grounds from the Aeropress, then repeat steps 1-3 until the your container is full. I use this 16oz glass jug that fits the AeroPress perfectly and will hold 3 full brews. That is 16oz of liquid from 120oz of beans. Quite the caffeine jolt!
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  9. Cover and refrigerate this container until it is chilled. I like to make it before I go to bed and let it chill overnight.

Serving

While I prefer my hot coffee unadulterated by dairy and sugar, I almost always put dairy and sugar into my cold coffee. No matter how you brew it, coffee will always have some compounds that don’t taste very good when they are cold.

This coffee concentrate is very strong. It was made from 120g of ground coffee beans. For reference, for a pour over I use the same amount of liquid (~16oz) but only 30-35g of coffee beans. Go easy on this stuff. If you overdo it, you’ll be jittery (and you’ll be sorry.) I treat it like liquor.

I make this the same way I would a cocktail. In fact, I usually make it in a rocks glass. Bonus points if you use a gorgeous Mazama glass. Here is what I mix up:

 
With two coffee drinkers in the house (one a full-blown caffeine addict and one who enjoys coffee but doesn’t always need it), we go through a full batch approximately every three days.

I typically make a batch of this after dinner and put it in the fridge. It is fully chilled and ready to go in the morning.

Tips

  1. If you don’t plan ahead and need to cool it down quickly, you can get it down to ~40-45F in about 30 minutes with an ice bath:
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  2. This is a great way to use up leftover beans. Taste still matters here, but it matters less than in a pour over because you are mixing sugar and dairy with it. So those beans you’ve had for two months but never used can make up a third of a batch.
  3. This stuff is great poured into Soylent 2.0.
This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. […] 2.0 (original pre-mixed version, still available) is pretty good. I really liked the convenience of not having to mix power with water and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours before I drank it. My main use-case for Soylent is a quick breakfast or lunch when I have a lot going on and no time to make something. Drinking a bottle of 2.0 keeps me going until dinner time. It is thinner and even more neutrally flavored than 1.5. It has a slight cereal milk taste. I didn’t dislike the flavor, but I found it to be a whole lot better when I added in some of my iced coffee. […]

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