Hot coffee has always been a very common beverage, but iced coffee beverages have historically been confined to certain areas of the world such as Austria, France, and England. Today, however, according to the National Coffee Association, iced coffee is following closely on the heels of the trendy cappuccino and latte and gaining in popularity every year.
As refreshing as iced tea, iced coffee is just as easy to make. There is an infinite number of ways to vary the taste of your iced coffee, as well. Just as with hot versions of the beverage, various syrups, sugar, milk, or cream can be added. You can even get creative and personalize your iced coffee experience in many delicious ways with the addition of ingredients like spices, chocolate or liquors. The best part is you can reproduce expensive coffee house versions at home rather simply.
Hot Brew Method
Start with freshly brewed coffee or espresso made in a percolator, French press, or automatic drip coffeemaker. If you have a fancy espresso machine, by all means use it, but it is not essential to make good iced coffee. Even instant coffee can be made into a delicious cold beverage. Many people find, however, that stronger coffee results in better iced coffee because the addition of the ice tends to dilute it somewhat. Experiment with coffee strength to find your personal preferences. After coffee is brewed, add sugar if desired while coffee is still hot, and let it cool to room temperature. Pour over ice. Store any leftover coffee in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Tip: Instead of ice cubes, freeze leftover coffee in ice trays and use them in place ice for an extra strong iced concoction.
Cold Brew Method
Although any type of traditional brewing method for coffee can be used to make iced coffee beverages, many people don’t realize that they can also use the cold brew method which does not require a coffeemaker at all. This brewing method is good for minimizing the acid content in coffee, as well as reducing bitterness. The process for cold brewing coffee is simple:
- Add about ½ pound of coffee to approximately five or six cups of water.
- Stir to make sure all the grounds are wet.
- Leave it loosely covered at room temperature for eight to ten hours.
- Strain through a sieve lined with a coffee filter and your coffee is ready to put over ice.
Simple Syrup Recipe for Iced Coffee
Many different ingredients can be added to iced coffee to make it taste like a coffeehouse specialty. Milk, cream, and sugar are the most common additives to both hot and cold coffee beverages, but sugar does not dissolve in iced coffee easily. To remedy this situation, consider making simple syrup. True to its name, simple syrup is, easy to make and can be modified in a number of ways.
- To start, simply combine one cup of water with two cups of sugar in a saucepan.
- Stir with a spoon to moisten the sugar.
- Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally. Simmer for about ten minutes.
- Cool. Store your syrup in the refrigerator.
Tip: Use leftover coffee in place of the water in your simple syrup recipe for extra coffee flavor.
To give your simple syrup additional punch, add cinnamon, nutmeg or other spices to the mixture while it is simmering. Strain your syrup before storing. Simple syrup can be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks.
Tip: For adults-only coffee, add a couple of ounces of rum, brandy, or your favorite flavored liqueur to the syrup after it has cooled to room temperature.
Of course, many store bought products such as sweetened condensed milk, caramel syrup, or chocolate syrup are available to provide richness, flavor, and sweetness to your iced coffee.
Iced coffee, with all of its variations, is one of the up and coming trends on the coffeehouse scene and it is slowly gaining ground in popularity over its hot counterpart. Whether you use the hot or cold brew method, top it with whipped cream and chocolate shavings, or drink it black, iced coffee is a refreshing beverage that is easy to make at home.