|Valentine Coffee Roasters: Coffee 101 - Iced Coffee|
|Learning Center - Tea & Coffee|
After a brief hiatus, we were delighted to welcome one of our favorite Peruvian coffees back into the shop just recently. CEPICAFE (CEntral PIurana de CAFEtaleros) is a cooperative of small-scale coffee producers in northern Peru near Ecuador in the Piura district on the western slopes of the Andes Mountains—way up there, at about 9001400 meters. The small-lot family farms that make up co-ops like CEPICAFE promote biodiversity by leaving more of the surrounding forest intact. This means no pesticides or herbicides, shade for the coffee, food for the families and organization to benefit the community. This is all fine and good—but how does it taste? The first impression is always a remarkable, balanced smoothness. Farming at such a high altitude helps to focus natural acids in coffee, leading to a light, bright citrusy acidity. Follow this silky combo up with a sweet, creamy milk-chocolate finish and it’s no wonder why we dig it so much. But now, back to the topic at hand—how to do a coffee like this justice in an iced preparation.
Essentially, both camps are right—you can get a really tasty iced coffee with either method, provided you follow a few reasonably simple guidelines. Which one to choose depends primarily on what kind of flavor profile you're looking for and, to a lesser extent, what kind of brewing gear you may have around.
The cold brew method involves steeping a greater-than-normal amount of ground coffee in cool or room-temperature water for 12-24 hours. After steeping, the grounds are strained from the resulting strong solution, usually first with a fine mesh sieve and then with a paper filter to capture the silt. What's left can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for a week or so. The cold water doesn't extract as much acid as hot water does, though the extended steep time causes some oxidation to occur. When diluted to appropriate strength with ice and/or water, the coffee is exceptionally mellow and smooth, creamy and caramel-y. All this can usually be accomplished with tools and vessels found in the average kitchen, though you have to be the kind of person who likes to plan ahead.
Cold brew is also called Toddy (after the brand name of a fancy-pants commercially available cold brew system), while others know it as New Orleans-style coffee. Keeping a jar of cold-brewed coffee extract in the refrigerator has long been part of New Orleans culture, and several pre-packaged options line supermarket shelves in the area. The extract, often containing a little chicory, is sweetened, iced and topped with a healthy dose of milk for a refreshing respite from hot and humid delta days.
However, if you're a fan of the bright, juicy coffees from the mountains of Central and South America or East Africa, you may find that cold-brewed coffee is too mellow—or maybe you're just not the plan-ahead type. Perhaps hot-brewed, or what is commonly called the “Japanese Style” of brewing iced coffee is more to your taste. The method is simple: Set up a pour-over as you normally would (grinder, scale, kettle, 200-205º F water, funnel, filter, etc.), but use half the water (or twice the coffee—you get the idea) and drip directly onto enough ice to replace the missing volume of water. The hot water extracts all the high-toned fruity aromatics and acidity in the coffee; the ice melts to balance the brew and there's no time for the dulling effects of oxidization. Granted, it's best suited for making just one or two cups at a time and requires having a pour-over funnel, but freshness counts.
[Don't have a pour-over setup and want to try Japanese iced coffee? We cook them up like this one cup at a time every Saturday morning at the Tosa Farmers’ Market. Stop on by!]
Valentine Coffee Black Sangria
4 parts iced coffee
Build it on ice by the glass or pitcher. Skewer some berries if you're into garnish. Enjoy.