If your idea of “iced coffee” is “letting my hot coffee get cold” then, honey, we need to talk—you deserve better.
It can seem like a huge production to make the stuff fresh for yourself at home, but once you are an ice master—and it’s easier than it sounds—you will not only be maximizing your chill, but you will also suddenly have a delicious tool kit that will float you through the hot months on a wave of taste bud bliss.
There are myriad ways to make iced coffee, but if you want to do anything well, you’ve got to pare down your options and really focus: Hone your skills at one or two techniques rather than dabbling with a dozen different brewers. I recommend learning two main preparation styles: Iced Pour-Over and Cold Brew. Think of them as the poached egg and the scrambled egg of iced coffee. Iced pour-over tends to be lighter, more delicate, more nuanced, and take more attention in the preparation. Cold Brew is great for making ahead, and is good either straight-up or jazzed-up.
Whether you’re looking to hone your cool caffeine skills or simply take your morning chug to the next level, here are a few things to do before you brew.
Know how much time ya got. If you’re in a rush, iced pour-over is 100 percent the way to go to get you out the door: It takes roughly three to four minutes to make this type of iced coffee, since you’re basically brewing a hot concentrate that drips directly onto ice. (The ice does double duty, diluting the concentrate to perfection, while simultaneously cooling it down.) Cold brew, on the other hand, can be portioned out into grab-and-go doses once it’s finished, but takes about 12–24 hours prep time.
Remember that ice is an ingredient. In fact, it’s one of the only ingredients. And if you’re an absolute purist (and/or a stickler for hard-and-fast definitions), it’s one of only two ingredients in iced…