Summer vacation is just around the corner, and if you will be spending any time at home with your kids, then you are gonna need one thing: booze. OK, but you will also need coffee.
Even if you’re not home with your kids, iced coffee is just a summer essential. But there is a whole lotta bad, watery iced coffee out there.
For me, the key to making great iced coffee at home relies on a few key steps. And yes, my suggestions for making this great cooling drink does require a smidge of advanced planning. But it is worth it.
1. The coffee
Start with a good quality coffee that, most importantly, you love. For me, that’s a coffee with a hint of chocolate or nuttiness. My absolute favorite coffee is the Dreamy Blend from Sylvester & Co in Sag Harbor, NY, which you can order online. But if you are looking for something more easily accessible (and less pricey), I also love Trader Joe’s Coffee & Cocoa, Trader Joe’s New Mexico Piñon, Fairway’s Mocha Java, or Whole Food’s Vienna Roast.
There is a lot of back and forth among coffee snobs experts about the best way to brew iced coffee. I think making cold brew is extremely easy and produces a great tasting result. There are others who argue cold brew is an inferior way to brew. And still others will warn you never ever to make hot coffee and then let it sit in the fridge (I do this all the time. It still tastes great.)
I have tried multiple methods, and I think they are all fine. It’s really about your preference and the most convenient method for your life. If you want to try making cold brew, I found The Pioneer Woman’s recipe easy and perfect. Yes, it makes a lot but you are going to go through a lot of iced coffee anyways.
Variation: to make cardamom iced coffee, steep 1-2 cardamom pods in our cold brew or freshly brewed coffee.
2. Ice cubes
Don’t you just hate it when the ice in your iced coffee melts and it gets all watery and then you don’t even want to drink it anymore? Well, that’s how I feel so I found the cure: coffee-milk ice cubes. This is one of the parts that does take planning but the reward has huge flavor payoff.
Whenever you make your coffee (by whatever method you choose) take some of the coffee and mix with half and half or milk. Pop into these adorable square silicon molds (or just regular ice cube trays will work fine) and freeze.
When it’s time to serve, pop those gorgeous coffee creations out and place in a glass. As the coffee milk ice cubes melt, no diluting your iced coffee! Just more iced coffee! This is life changing.
3. The sweetener
If you sweeten your coffee (and I do) there is nothing worse than grains of sugar hanging around the bottom of your glass, coming up through the straw, and generally being a nuisance instead of an enhancer. The solution? Simple syrup, which is indeed, quite simple.
To make simple syrup, combine 1 cup of water with 1 cup of sugar in a small saucepan over low-medium heat. Stir mixture until sugar dissolves completely, then remove from heat and store in a container until ready to use.
Variation 1: Add 1 tsp vanilla to water and sugar mixture to make vanilla simple syrup.
Variation 2: Add 1 stick of cinnamon to water and sugar mixture to make cinnamon simple syrup; remove cinnamon stick when you place syrup into a container for storage.
And there you have it. A few simple steps to making the iced coffee of your dreams this summer.