It’s absolutely, totally, completely, sweat-running-down-your-back-ily summer. And that means it’s time for iced coffee.
(I did not take that awesome photo; it was taken by Thingo and shared on Flickr under a Creative Commons license. I’m grateful for this, because this post has been in the works for weeks, and held up by photo trouble!)
For years, I only bought iced coffee because I couldn’t figure out how to get the same results at home. But now the secrets have been revealed!
Secret #1: Make your coffee ahead! I usually am lazy and end up just brewing hot coffee in my drip maker and then putting it in the fridge, but you can also make cold-brew by mixing a third of a cup of ground coffee with 1 1/2 cups water and letting it sit overnight in the fridge, then straining the grounds out with a double-layer of cheesecloth. Cold brew has the advantage of being very smooth and low acidity; I just can’t usually manage cheesecloth before having any coffee.
Secret #2: Simple syrup. This was actually the first secret I learned, from a brilliant coffee shop that offered it in the summer. I make mine with two parts sugar to one part water. Combine them in a pan and heat over medium heat, stirring frequently. The sugar will dissolve into a cloudy solution; it’s done when the solution turns clear. I store mine in a mason jar, but a brilliant friend recently turned me on to using a rinsed-out wine bottle to store it for easier pouring.
Secret #3: Coffee ice cubes. This is the best part, because it saves you from watery coffee or trying some alchemy involving brewing double-strength and adding just the right amount of ice. Just freeze some brewed coffee in an ice cube tray. I find it easiest to pop the cubes out and store them in a tupperware once they’re frozen; that way I can wash and use the tray for other things in the meantime. If you add milk or sugar to your coffee, remember that these cubes will add about a tablespoon each of undiluted coffee to your mug as they melt!