The perfect glass of iced coffee, cold brew, and flash chilled is easier than you think!
Warmer months are upon us, and that means it’s time for everyone’s favorite cold coffees to start arriving to the coffee shop and your kitchen. Cold coffee can get confusing, and I am frequently asked how to make iced coffee. To move forward, let’s take a step back.
What Is Iced Coffee?
First off, iced coffee is generally used as an umbrella term for all coffee that is cold. It isn’t a brew method or a roast profile, it’s an easy way to talk about coffee that tastes good with a bunch of ice cubes in it. Within iced coffee are a few different brewing methods, mainly cold brew and flash chill.
OK, What Is Cold Brew?
Cold brew refers to coffee that is brewed using cold water. Hot water can extract the particles of coffee out from the coffee grounds faster and more efficiently, which is why brewing times are only a couple of minutes. When the water is room temperature or cold, it has to work that much harder to extract the particles of coffee, and therefore it has to sit in contact with the coffee for hours at a time. Cold brew is an immersion brewing method, similar to a French press, where coarsely ground coffee sits in water for an extended period of time.
Which is why you can even make cold brew in your French press at home — here’s how!
- Prep a French press like you normally would
- Add cold water instead of hot
- Let sit overnight, we recommend 12 to 18 hours of brew time, with denser, more expressive concentrate the longer the coffee stays in contact with water
- Pour into a tall glass and dilute with ice cubes, water, milk, or cream to taste
- Refrigerate leftover coffee for up to seven days
One of the downsides to cold brew is oxidation, which means the cold brew is in contact with air for an extended period of time (it’s also what turns a slice of apple brown when it sits out for too long). You can cut down on cold brew oxidation by making sure you keep it covered while it’s brewing to limit the amount of air that comes into contact with the grounds.
Cold brew generally doesn’t taste as acidic as hot coffee, because the extraction is much more gentle…
Because hot water can change the molecular structure of what it extracts from coffee grounds, you’ll notice that cold brew generally doesn’t taste as acidic as hot coffee, because the extraction is much more gentle. So even with the long extraction time, cold brew usually tastes smoother and less sharp. Since cold brew is truly a brew method, it doesn’t have to be consumed cold. In fact, some people who like the thickness of the body and the smoothness of the taste heat it up after they’ve finished brewing it and drink it hot!
As you experiment, you can play around with grind size, water filtration, brew times, and different types of roast profiles and origins. You never know how a coffee will taste when brewed a different way, so it’s fun to explore your options. For those looking for more classic or traditional cold brew flavors, look for medium to dark roasts with lots of sweet candy bar notes like chocolate, caramel, and nut. For more adventurous cold brew drinkers, naturals with their berry notes make for super-sweet cold brews and Kenyan coffees add a nice bright pop to any concentrate.
So, What Is Flash Chill?
Flash chill is a brewing method where coffee brewed with hot water is rapidly cooled over ice. Popular with the pour over crowd and used to accentuate acidity in cold coffee, or the nuances of a single origin, flash chill is easier than it may initially seem. The taste is generally lighter and more floral, and some coffee lovers revel in how tea-like of a brew you can get.
Here’s how to make flash-chilled iced coffee, also known as flash brew and Japanese iced coffee after this method’s origin and popularity in Japan.
- Replace 1/3 to 1/2 of your brewing water with ice cubes.
- If your recipe calls for 100 g of hot water, replace 33 g of hot water with 33 g of ice cubes, placed in the bottom carafe under the brewer. I recommend starting with this ratio, as it’s easier to pour 75 percent of your brewing water and extract that good stuff, rather than starting with only 50 percent of your brewing water.
- Follow the same ratio of using 2/3 of the hot water you normally use and replace it with ice in the carafe.
- If your coffee maker has a hot plate turn it off or remove the carafe as soon as your coffee has finished brewing. You run the risk of “warping” the taste by adding too many temperature variables throughout the brewing process.