Iced coffee is expected to rack up yet another season of double-digit sales increases.
The big boys are tripping over each other with new product launches as each tries to cash in on our growing affinity for iced versions of our favorite beverage. Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks, and McDonalds will be going head-to-head this summer, each with its own frozen-dark-roasted-choice-of-flavored-syrup-blended-ginormous renditions.
Iced coffee is much more than coffee over ice.
When properly made, iced coffee is rich and smooth with very low acid and barely a hint of bitterness. Sugar is superfluous.
Iced coffee should never be made by pouring hot coffee over ice, which dilutes the flavor while retaining all the bitter acids. When strongly brewed coffee has been properly chilled it can produce an acceptable iced coffee, and a shot of espresso or coffee ice cubes can help counteract dilution.
The best iced coffee is made with the cold brewing method. Ground coffee beans are steeped in cold water for up to 24 hours. The grounds are strained, leaving a syrupy concentrate of coffee essence full of nuanced flavors with hints of chocolate and caramel.
Expect new and exotic varieties.
From Italy, we are getting two new versions: the Icy Drink, an espresso shot poured into a specially molded cup of ice; and the cafe shakerato, made in a cocktail shaker with espresso, ice, and sugar, then strained (with a flourish) into a glass.
Vietnamese-style iced coffee is made with a coarsely-ground, dark French roast, usually New Orleans-style with chicory. The coffee is individually drip-brewed through a special filter into a cup containing sweetened condensed milk. The two are mixed together and poured over ice.
Thai-style iced coffee is traditionally made with a strong brew of oliang, a blend of ground coffee, soy beans, sesame seeds, and corn. It’s served sweetened and blended with milk or cream, and is often flavored with cardamom and almond extract.
Personally, I feel that iced coffee never goes out of season. But if you’re more of a summertime purist, there is a pointless but nifty website called Is It Iced Coffee Weather. Plug in your zip code and it gives you the definitive answer.
Supersize your caffeine jitters this summer with the introduction of Starbucks’ new Trenta cup size. Designed specifically for iced coffee and iced tea, at 31 ounces the Trenta is a measuring cup larger than the current big gulp of a Venti. Just one ounce shy of a quart, the Trenta cup somehow manages to fit in the standard car cup holder.
If you like a more spirited warm weather drink, check out these recipes for iced coffee cocktails.