Purchasing an iced coffee might be a gamble. Although it appears to be ridiculously easy on paper – coffee poured over ice and mixed with milk – there are a plethora of factors that may influence quality. So it’s probably best if you simply build your own. On how to produce the perfect version at home, I chatted with Stuart Wilson, the founder of Lost Sheep Coffee in Whitstable, and Lynsey Harley of the Fife roastery and Edinburgh café Modern Standard.
The first step is to make coffee.
You have three options here, but each one starts with the appropriate kind of bean. Wilson says, “I would recommend a Brazilian or a Colombian.” “A good, sweet, full-bodied coffee… ideally single origin” is what you’re looking for. This is critical. Coffee blends, which are made up of coffee from several nations, are usually intended to be brewed hot. Their inherent sugars are brought to the fore when mixed with warm milk. If you prepare iced coffee with a mix, this step is bypassed, and the final result may be more acidic than you anticipate. “Get the purest, most satisfying flavour in its simplest form,” Wilson advises, “since then there’s less to go wrong.” Also, avoid purchasing pre-ground coffee from supermarkets. The quality is bad, the grind isn’t fine enough for espresso, and the price is more than buying directly from a roaster.
If you’re in a hurry, a Nespresso (or similar) machine is the fastest method to prepare iced coffee. Many speciality roasters produce Nespresso-compatible pods, with many of them now being biodegradable.
Espresso machine is the most costly choice.
You may even obtain your dose of hot coffee this way if you have an espresso machine at home. Consistency is crucial in this situation. When Wilson makes an espresso, the process is exact: “We weigh out exactly 18.5 grams of freshly ground coffee, and then tamp it softly and evenly. We would then time the espresso extraction, a good starting point is 30 seconds, and weigh the espresso extraction at the end, to ensure that we have 30 grams of espresso”.
Cold brew is the most time-consuming alternative.
If neither of these options are available, make your own cold brew. This requires a lot more time, because cold water won’t dissolve the coffee’s solubles as much or as quickly as hot water. You may also want to choose a different type of bean for this method since, as Harley points out: “You’ll probably want light to medium roasts, as anything darker might be too bitter”.