Make better iced coffee

  • Article by: KATHERINE GOLDSTEIN , Slate
  • Updated: August 7, 2013 - 3:13 PM

Is your iced coffee too weak or bitter? A few small changes make a big difference.

I have a confession. I was doing iced coffee wrong. During the hot days of summer, the last thing I wanted to do was start my morning off with a steamy cup of joe. Rather than pay a coffee-shop premium for the privilege of drinking a nice cold one on ice, I tried making some brews at home. But my efforts were largely disappointing: too bitter, too weak and just generally not as good as I could buy retail.

I researched methods online, but found that most recipes were similar to what I was already trying. And I’d already been dissatisfied with standard overnight cold-brew instructions and typical pour-over ice techniques.

That’s when I reached out to John Hamanchosi, a consultant at Oven Hot Food Group, partner at 7 Coffee Roasting Co. A mutual friend told me he had a killer iced-coffee recipe, and I was ready for some professional help.

Hamanchosi explained that my previous method was flawed in several ways. I was not using enough coffee grounds in my concoctions, and I wasn’t letting it steep for long enough. (I’d previously been putting my cold brew together before bed, so it was only getting eight or so hours of steep time. Hamanchosi recommends 16 to 18.)

I’d also been brewing my batches in about the same proportions of water to grounds that I’d do for regular coffee: a few heaping spoonfuls for 8 ounces of water.

A better way

Hamanchosi recommended a much stronger ratio: one part coffee grounds, two parts water, a mixture you then dilute after brewing. For iced coffee, he finds that medium-roast African beans provide the best brews due to their sweet caramel flavors. (I hadn’t considered origins and always bought dark roast out of habit.)

Then he dazzled me with a secret ingredient I’d never even begun to consider: mint. A few sprigs bring out the light notes that are particularly refreshing in iced coffee, he claimed. Coffee and mint are two flavors I never would have put together, so I was eager to try it.

And it worked. His recipe was so far superior to anything I’ve tried that I’m never ever going back. The coffee was strong, flavorful and much more rich and complex than my previous attempts. The mint works wonders: It’s not at all overpowering, but it gives the beverage a wonderful fruity and fresh flavor that you probably wouldn’t even identify as mint if you didn’t know it was in there. You’d just know it was better than your average brew.

August is looking up.

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  • Recipe: iced coffee

    Wednesday August 7, 2013

    The 7 Coffee Roasting Co. MethodMakes 2 (10-oz.) servings.• 8 oz. coarsely ground coffee beans, preferably medium roast, of African...

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