Iced Coffee: The Life-Giving Specialty of the House

Saturday, May 28th, 2011 | Connecting the Dots

I love iced coffee. I am so not a coffee person otherwise, in that I really can’t distinguish good coffee from bad (although a really great cup might catch my attention), don’t care how it’s brewed, won’t notice if you stew it for a while and really, really can’t tell where you got your beans or how and when they were ground. When it comes to hot coffee, I’m a philistine, and I drink it with plenty of milk and cream.

But iced coffee—now that I know from. Did you brew up some hot coffee and slip it into the fridge? That’s not too bad, but if you do not have sugar syrup in your coffee shop, you’re not doing this right. “Crunchy” is not generally an attribute people enjoy in coffee. Ice a hot cup? Bad plan, unless coffee water is your drink of choice. Brew a shot of espresso or two (or three), melt some sugar in them, add milk and then ice–that’s going to work, although it’s obviously not actually an iced coffee. But I will accept an iced latte. But if you really want an iced coffee—if you really want to do it right—cold brewed New Orleans style is the only way to go.

And—except for a pound of ground coffee, ideally with chicory, you really don’t need anything you don’t already have.

Our coffee of choice.

First, the coffee. We use Luzianne. It’s cheap. They sell it at our grocery store. I suspect any true coffee drinker would shun it, probably while coughing and shaking their head, maybe holding out a hand and backing away. But in this context, man, it’s tasty. Other chicory-laced brands have been fine too. This one is cheapest and I like the can best. (And we have quite the collection of cans.)

Coffee, soaking.

Dump the whole can of coffee (or bag, should yours come that way, but you need a pound of coffee here, and the bags at our store are a chintzy 10 oz.) in a bowl capable of holding it plus 10 cups of water, give or take a bit. My bowl holds exactly that, so I don’t measure the water anymore. Pour the water over the coffee, and gently stir so that all, or at least most, of the grounds are wet. They’ll float, but that’s ok.

This is the hard part. You have to leave the bowl alone. No stirring, no cooking, no boiling, no—wait, what else would you do with the bowl at this point? Watch it? Well, ok, you can watch it. It won’t even make it take longer. But surely you can find something else to do. Leave that sucker be for at least 12 hours. 24 is even better. We’ve left it for up to three days, and we don’t notice, nor does anything appear to grow in the bowl. There is presumably some outer limit of this process, but I don’t know what it is.

12-72 hours later, and five minutes from the best iced coffee ever.

Now, here you are. You’re ready to move on. Gather a strainer or two capable of holding back most of the coffee grounds and, using whatever method you prefer, separate the coffee grounds from the liquid. Me, I scoop, then pour. You’ll need a bowl for the wet coffee grounds. The coffee grounds should go in the compost. Or out in the garden. Or in a hole you dug in your lawn, or, if you must, the trash. I think not the disposal, but hey, that’s your call. My husband thinks we could soak them again, but I’m not cheap enough to try that. I told you, I’m just an ole’ iced coffee snob. The liquid goes in a pitcher, although you might as well get out your cup and pour some right in there as well.

Straining, Part One: the Scoop.

Straining, Part Two: the Pour.

Now you’ll want to make yourself a fantastic iced coffee. If you really love your spouse, make two. My kids like them too, and are often indulged with a small one.

You have options. What you’ve really made here isn’t iced coffee, but iced coffee concentrate. You’ll want to add 1/3 coffee and 2/3 other liquids unless you like iced coffee that will make your eyelashes pop out. We use milk around here (and our bones and fingernails are very strong). Water is fine too. I suppose you could use soy milk, although somehow it seems to violate the spirit of the whole thing. Or goat milk. Or almond milk. Or vodka.

I added a shot of serious chocolate milk to mine. It doesn't take much.

Everything you need. Sugar syrup in back. Chocolate milk is a bonus feature.

So: for the plain version, it’s a third coffee, some sugar syrup (y’all know that’s half boiled water, half sugar, right?)—I always need a little more of that than I think I will—and the rest skim milk. Or whatever. Try milk. Even if you don’t like milk, you’ll like this. I throw in a shot of the really good whole-milk-chocolate milk they sell around here for good measure. Unlike the sugar syrup, with that, I’m always surprised how little I need to make it good. Be sure to leave room for ice!

That’s it. Lid on your go-cup (another NOLA tradition) or not if you’re staying home (me, I need a lid for my desk, too), sip, enjoy.

Mmmm....

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