Coffee Talk

This Week In Coffee: It’s getting warm out, try cold-brewed coffee

Where to find the best java on the rocks.

April 26, 2010

Toddy for the party The toddy cold-brew method yields a smooth cup of joe. I’m not sure what that tulip is doing in the photo, let’s pretend it’s not there.

There comes a day every year, as spring moves into summer, when it’s time to switch from hot coffee to iced coffee. But iced coffee is a tricky animal. Anyone who serves you hot coffee cooled with ice is a criminal, do not let him or her get away with it. This leads to a terribly acidic beverage; it is an outrage to the beans. Seriously, someone should call the cops.

Some people swear by doubling the amount of coffee they brew for hot coffee, then bringing to room temperature, cooling in the fridge, and pouring over ice to order. This is okay I guess, though there’s something about iced coffee made in this manner that’s not quite right. If coffee prepared in this way is really honest with itself, it wants to be hot coffee. I can taste its identity issues and don’t find them all that palatable.

Really, the best cold coffee is cold-brewed coffee, a process you can learn all about here. The first coffee shop at which I toiled cold-brewed via the toddy method. We actually used it for hot coffee too—if you ordered simply a “cup of coffee,” we spooned a few tablespoons of a super-concentrated toddy brew into your cup. (Ratios were top secret, my boss never let us in the back room where he prepared the toddies.) Next we would add any desired sugar or dairy, mix that in, then fill the cup with steaming water. The coffee was consistently fantastic; the entire town was addicted to it.

I don’t know anyone in Seattle who makes hot coffee using cold brew, but if you want iced coffee at its best, order it at Seattle Coffee Works or Fremont Coffee or Stumptown or Victrola. All of these places cold brew their iced coffee, and should receive awards and accolades for doing so. If you know any others, please share.

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