Did you know that coffee is the third most consumed beverage in the world after water and tea? Around 70 countries produce coffee, which leads to different styles and flavors. One of those styles, iced coffee, in particular, is a very popular style of coffee across the world. It is the perfect drink to beat summer heat and get a caffeine kick at the same time.
What is iced coffee?
Iced coffee is prepared by combining brewed coffee with ice. Often, sugar and milk are also added to iced coffee.
Iced coffee is quite popular in different parts of the world and is prepared differently in different countries using different types of coffee beans, for example 100% Robusta, 100% Arabica, or even a delightful blend of the two. Here are a few popular iced coffee preparations across the world:
Types of iced coffee
The most basic iced coffee preparation involves brewing hot coffee and then adding ice to it. The hot coffee melts the ice making the coffee more diluted. Another method is to let the hot coffee naturally cool down and then add ice to it. This method results in slightly bitter iced coffee as brewed coffee becomes more acidic with time. This is why sometimes brewed hot coffee is put in a refrigerator or freezer for instant cooling. Once cold, this coffee is then added to a glass full of ice. Arabica beans are ideal for this style due to their bright flavor notes.
Japanese Iced Coffee
Japanese iced coffee, or aisu kōhī is an ingenious method of preparing delectable iced coffee. This method is prepared by brewing hot coffee straight onto the ice. Complex and acidic coffee varieties are ideal for this style of iced coffee. The Japanese pour over method allows you to enjoy the delicate flavors of iced coffee. Both robusta and arabica beans are perfect for Japanese style iced coffee.
Cold brew has been winning over the hearts of coffee aficionados for the past few years. It rose to popularity thanks to its smooth taste. No hot water is involved in preparing cold brew. To make cold brew, coarsely ground coffee is steeped in cold water anywhere from overnight to two days. This cold water concoction is then diluted by adding water to it. The result is, according to many, one of the best iced coffees in the world. Cold milk and sugar are optional, but they can greatly enhance the flavors.
Iced Espresso or Iced Americano
Iced Espresso and Iced Americano are two names for the same beverage. Ice is added to a strong shot of espresso along with some water to create a perfect iced coffee rich in bold flavors. Iced espresso serves as an ingredient for several iced coffee recipes.
While not as popular as the aforementioned iced coffee styles, it is paramount to mention Mazagran for its history. Mazagran is heralded by many as the first iced coffee style invented by French soldiers stationed in Algeria in the early 19th century. At that time, it just involved coffee syrup and cold water. Its modern avatar is enticing thanks to the addition of espresso shots, rum, lemon, and mint leaves.
Cà phê sửa đá
Vietnamese iced coffee, cà phê sửa đá, is gaining popularity across the world. It is prepared by mixing condensed milk with coffee brewed using robusta beans from Vietnam. The bold flavors of the beans and the sweetness of the condensed milk result in a perfect iced coffee enjoyed by millions across the world. Curious? Learn how to make the best Vietnamese iced coffee (no bias).
What makes a good iced coffee?
Iced coffee normally involves just two ingredients - water and coffee beans. All the other ingredients are optional. There are three secrets to making good iced coffee - beans, beans, and beans.
Coffee beans are the heart and soul of iced coffee, which is why it is paramount to use the best beans possible to make the perfect iced coffee.
100% single origin robusta beans are perfect for pour over iced coffee, cold brew, espresso, and Vietnamese iced coffee. Robusta beans add notes of scotch, grapefruit, and bitter melon to these coffee styles depending on where they’re from.
100% single origin arabica beans are ideal for iced coffee, iced espressos, and Mazagran. They don’t have high acidity which makes them suitable for these coffee styles. Expect heavenly iced coffee thanks to the subtle notes of wild berries, chocolate, cherry, and honey.
Grind setting is another important facet of good iced coffee. The size and setting depend on brewing methods. A coarse grind is ideal for French Press and Cold Brew. Aeropress and phin filters require a fine grind while medium grind is suitable for Pour Over and Chemex.
For those who don’t have time to grind their own beans, pre-ground, fresh coffee is a perfect solution so long as it’s consumed within 2 weeks for optimal flavor!
What is the difference between iced coffee and cold brew?
Cold brew has become popular across the world over the last decade. From Houston to Hanoi and Berlin to Buenos Aires, cold brew is the talk of the town. So, what is a cold brew? And, how is cold brew different from iced coffee?
Iced coffee, in its most basic form, is brewed hot coffee poured over ice. This is the most common and popular preparation. On the other hand, cold brew uses neither hot water nor brewed hot coffee. It is an entirely cold preparation where coarsely ground coffee is steeped in cold water anywhere from overnight to two days.
This coffee concoction can have twice as much caffeine as regular iced coffee due to the long steep time. Additionally, if robusta coffee is used, the resulting cold brew will have a very high amount of caffeine compared to standard cups of brewed coffee. Water or milk is added to this coffee concoction to make a cold brew. Cold brew is also much smoother than regular iced coffee as hot water extraction releases compounds faster and more intensely. As a result, cold brew also tends to have more full-bodied flavor than iced coffee.
How to make the perfect iced coffee
Vietnamese iced coffee is the perfect summer coffee drink and is carving a space in coffee lovers’ hearts across the world. The exquisite flavors of robusta beans and the delicate sweetness of condensed milk are a match made in heaven. To make the best Vietnamese iced coffee, it is essential to source robusta beans from Vietnam. You need just one more thing to brew the perfect Vietnamese iced coffee - a phin filter.
The best Vietnamese iced coffee
Vietnamese robusta coffee like Truegrit or Loyalty
- A stainless steel phin filter
- Hot filter water
- Condensed milk
- A glass or container
- Ice cubes
- Bring the water to boil [195-200°F]
- Add 2 tablespoons (14g) of ground Vietnamese coffee to the phin filter
- Evenly spread the grounds by shaking the filter chamber
- Add the gravity press on top of the coffee grounds
- Add condensed milk to the glass to taste
- Top the glass with the phin filter plate and chamber
- Bloom the coffee by pouring about 1 oz of water for 45 seconds
- Fill the top of the filter with the remaining 3 oz of water
- Let the coffee drip (this takes about 5 minutes)
- Stir and add ice!
Voila! You just prepared cooling Vietnamese iced coffee to kick the summer heat away, and in less than 7 minutes too! Summers are officially Vietnamese iced coffee season.
How to make regular iced coffee
Brewing a cup of delicious iced coffee is easy and exciting.
- Vietnamese coffee like Truegrit, Loyalty, or Moxy
- French Press, Aeropress, Drip or Pour Over
- Filtered water
- A glass
- Milk [Optional]
- Sugar or other sweeteners [Optional]
- Add ground Vietnamese coffee to the French press, Aeropress, Drip, or Pour Over
- For drip, use room temperature water. For the other three, use boiling water [195-200°F]
- Let the coffee brew as usual
- Instead of adding ice to the hot brewed coffee, let the coffee sit for a few hours. Make sure you cover the glass with a lid!
- Now, add ice cubes to the coffee
- Add milk or creamer along with sugar or other sweeteners
With this, you have the easiest cup of iced coffee for summer evenings and mornings.
Ratios: The ideal balance of coffee, water, milk, and sugar
Iced coffee stands on four pillars - coffee, water, dairy, and sweetener with the last two being optional yet recommended. So, how do you ensure the best iced coffee with these four ingredients?
A 1:8 ratio of coffee to water is the norm. This results in sweet and exquisite coffee that people will endear instantly. For those who prefer stronger coffee, aim for a coffee to water ratio of 1:4 or even 1:2. Top the iced coffee with ¼ milk to enjoy a creamier iced coffee. Add more milk if you prefer creamier coffee. Often, 1 teaspoon of sugar adds sufficient sweetness to iced coffee without undermining the robust flavors of the beans. Feel free to add more sugar if you like sweeter coffee
In the end, whatever your preferred style and ratio are, coffee beans are the most integral part of iced coffee– when you have those as a foundation, there’s truly no right or wrong!