I’ve been holding off writing this post for weeks now as I didn’t want to jinx the summer. But seeing as summer’s nearly over and we still haven’t had much sun here, I’ve decided now’s the time to bite the bullet.
I first fell in love with ice coffee many many years ago when I was in Thailand. Something cool, refreshing and also stimulating was perfect for travelling round a hot tropical country. It was also super sweet, which made it moreish; as Thai ice coffee is usually made with condensed milk. Whilst I thought this style of ice coffee was fantastic back then, my palate has developed a little since and other than as a very occasionally guilty pleasure, I’m now after something a bit more sophisticated, less like a dessert.
Two Ice Coffee Schools
There are two main schools of thought when it comes to making ice coffee:
- Japanese Method: brewed with hot water and cooled rapidly
- Cold Brew Method: brewed using cold water (hence the name)
There is a third; the ‘Brew Hot and Cool Slowly’ method, but I’ve disregarded this as it requires some form of sweetening to counteract the bitterness caused by slow cooling.
Each method captures a different flavour profile from the coffee. The Japanese method highlights the acidity in coffee, think bright fruity flavours, with an almost tea like body. Whereas the Cold Brew method is sweeter and mellower with a fuller body, bringing out chocolaty or nutty flavours
The Japanese ice coffee method usually consists of brewing coffee in some from of pour over coffee maker placed over a glass (or other receptacle) filled with ice. As the coffee drips down onto the ice it’s cooled instantly.
The tricky part with the Japanese method is getting the ratio of ingredients right. As ice dilutes the coffee as it melts, you need to brew stronger coffee in the first place to offset this. Usually the amount of ice used is deducted from the amount of hot water used to brew the coffee (in order to do this, you need to measure water by weight [grams] rather than volume [ml]).
For example, if we’re using Gold Cup Standards, then for brewing 15g of coffee we’d normally use 250g of hot water. But for an ice coffee we need between 35%-50% (depending on how cold you like it) of the normal weight of hot water, in ice, to cool the coffee sufficiently. So we’d brew 15g of coffee with say 125g of hot water and 125g of ice.
The problem with using less hot water is that it affects the brewing process. Using a lower ratio of water to coffee grounds inevitably leads to an incomplete extraction as you have less solvent (i.e. water) to dissolve the tasty flavours from the coffee. This is why fruity flavours are so prevalent in ice coffee as these are most soluble flavours in coffee.
Personally, I don’t like ice coffee too cold as the colder you go the harder it is to detect certain flavours. So I use 40% ice which usually gives me a final beverage temperature of around 10°C (not really ice cold, I know!). Also I find it easier to use a Clever Coffee Dripper than a traditional coffee cone, as the full immersion helps ensure the coffee grounds are evenly wetted.
- Brew 18g of coffee with 180g of hot water using your favourite Clever Coffee Dripper recipe.
- When its time to draw the liquid down, place the Dripper over a tall glass containing 120g of ice.
Cold Brewing Method:
The Cold Brewing Method consists of mixing coffee and cold water in a container and then leaving it in a fridge, usually overnight to extract. In the morning the solution is strained to remove the grounds and then it’s ready to serve either as it is or over ice.
Personally, I prefer to use a glass container, rather than plastic or metal, as glass is inert so isn’t going to impart any off flavours to the coffee during the long brewing process. It’s also essential to cover the container to reduce oxidation and dehydration.
- Use coffee ground slightly coarser than for a cafetiere/french press
- Add 18g of coffee to a container and then pour over 300ml of water.
- Stir the solution 4 or 5 times to ensure the grounds are evenly wet.
- Cover and leave in the fridge for 12 hours.
- After 12 hours strain the solution through a paper filter to remove the grounds.
Hybrid Ice Coffee Method:
I like to think of each of these method as one piece in a two piece jigsaw. Put them together and we have a much fuller flavour profile, which balances fruitiness with body and sweetness. This is why I’ve come up with the Hybrid method which combines both methods and uses coffee flavoured ice cubes (I’m sure someone must have thought of this before).
- First prepare some of your chosen coffee using the Cold Brew method.
- Once this is ready, pour into an ice cube tray and freeze.
- Now use these coffee flavoured ice cubes to brew ice coffee using the Japanese method. However, this time there’s no need to updose the coffee. So to brew 300g of coffee: brew 11g of ground coffee with 180g of hot water, to pour over 120g of coffee flavoured ice cubes.
Of course you can adjust this recipe to your own particular tastes. If you want to increase the fruitiness of the coffee; either updose on grounds or use less ice cubes. To cool the coffee further or increase sweetness use more cubes.
Now fingers crossed for a heat wave!