Ahhh, summer. The champion of seasons. Long evenings and lazy afternoons. The freedom of holidays and all the silliness that goes with it. Summer can be many things. But in Ireland, hot would hardly be the first adjective you reach for. Over the years and mainly thanks to geography, I have learnt that summer does not need to be hot to be enjoyable. And just as some of my favourite summer days have been cold, so too are some of my favourite coffees.
Serving or brewing cold coffee is not a new phenomenon. But it is continuously being refined and improved on. And quite a lot recently. So if you're thinking of taking the first steps out of your temperature-controlled hot coffee world, this blog might be helpful. It's a simple, quick guide on some of the different types and methods: specifically, iced coffee and cold brew coffee. A how what, and why. Everything you'll need to know to get brewing delicious, iced coffees.
To begin, I'll just get this out of the way.
The natural oils and flavours that make your coffee delicious are extracted by the hot water, dissolving them quickly into your cup. But all the goodness does, unfortunately, evaporate while it slowly cools. Gently wafting away into the air. Never to tickle a tastebud. What a shame. All you are left with is basically a cup of cold, stale coffee. You can, of course, chill this and serve it over ice for an illusion of refreshment. But now you're just watering down stale coffee. On top of that, coffee looks muddy after cooling because the natural oils have broken down, intensifying the acids.
But, if this is your idea of iced coffee, and you like it, I've got good news for you. There is a better way that is easier and quicker. And infinitely more delicious. It is called Iced Filter Coffee, or Japanese Style Iced Coffee. It's my current go-to for iced coffee and, I'd like to tell you more about it.
There will be no medals given for guessing which country popularised this way of brewing. I'm not suggesting they invented it, but the Japanese clearly perfected it. As I mentioned already, leaving your coffee to go cold isn't a great idea. So many of the compounds that make your drink tasty are lost. But, by brewing as usual with hot water directly onto ice, things dramatically improve. This process is sometimes called "flash chilled". All those elements that make you go yum, the oils, aroma, the nuance of origin, are released as usual by the hot water. But, as the hot coffee drips onto the ice, it rapidly cools, trapping these flavoursome delights in your drink. What you are left with is a clean, sweet brew packed full of the coffee flavour you know and love.
Allow me to explain the technique. And because I'm generally in the mood for a party, I'm going to give you a recipe for making a litre. If you want to make less? Just adjust the coffee and water amounts accordingly. What you will need is not complicated or expensive and readily available on fixxcoffee.com (if you don't already have this stuff at home). For an Iced Filter Coffee, you're going to need the following.
As a general rule, to brew 1lt of coffee, you would use 60g of coffee. However, for this recipe, I personally use 65g. The reason for this is, I will only use 600g of hot water to brew the coffee. The other 400g grams of water will be frozen. Or, as it is more commonly known, ice. And since there will be less contact between the coffee and hot water, I've added the extra 5g to improve extraction. A regular coarse grind works perfectly well here, but slightly finer will enhance extraction yet again.
You'll see the hot coffee drip onto the ice below, flash chilling it and trapping all the delicious. By the end of brewing, most, if not all, of the ice should be melted into the brew, giving you 1lt of ready to drink cold coffee—sweet and clean and packed full of your favourite FiXX flavours. What you do from here is your choice. I go straight up in a tall glass full of ice. You can, of course, add milk or sweeteners and syrups if you like. But why not try it black first. You might be surprised.
Necessity is the mother of all inventions. So I can only assume the first person to come up with the concept of Cold Brew coffee had simply forgotten to pack a kettle wherever they were going. Either way, knowingly or unknowingly, they stumbled onto something fantastic. Cold brewing is essentially the process of steeping ground coffee in cold or room temperature water for an extended period. This dramatically changes the extraction process. All those oils and aromas I mentioned previously are no longer released by hot water. And the acids are reduced beyond recognition. In fact, cold brew coffees are nearly 66% less acidic than your typical brew. Thus, making them super smooth and mellow with a unique flavour profile. I'll give you an easy and reliable recipe to get started. You'll just need the following.
As you can probably guess by the coffee to water ratio, this will make a potent concentrate. This, you can dilute as you please, with water, milk, or soda water being good starting points. It's also great as a cocktail base. But more on that later. Firstly, let's make your cold brew.
At the end of these steps, you'll have a thick cold brew concentrate. A good point of dilution is 1:2. So, put 50ml of cold brew over ice and top up with 100ml of water/milk/soda/tonic/whatever. Play with the mixture, and who knows what concoction you'll discover. You can even use boiling water to create a crazy smooth coffee. This concentrate will also keep in your fridge for up to 2 weeks. So time to experiment remains an option.
The great thing about this process is that it fundamentally changes the flavour profile of the coffee you use. Without much acidity, coffees brewed this way offer up tasting notes you didn't even know existed. It's also one of the reasons that cold brews make great cocktail bases.
When I first tried this method with FiXX Cubano, I was amazed to find notes of banana come through. Something I hadn't encountered before. With FiXX Oslo, it was a berry bouquet. Both got me reaching for my Willy Wonka hat and my cocktail shaker. Thus, giving birth to the Cold Cubano and Oslo Sangria. FiXX Organic was a mega chocolate hit, and I instantly knew the direction it wanted me to go, leading me to the White Peruvian. You can find the recipes for these cocktails here, along with other delicious offerings. Alcoholic or otherwise. But that's just where my brain went. Choose your own adventure!
So there you have it. Come in out of the heat and try something cold. I can't guarantee you a hot summer in Ireland. But I guarantee a cold winter will be back. So why not try something new until then.
Be it the sweet clean flavours of Iced Filter Coffee or the magical mystery tour of Cold Brew, your relationship with FiXX may be about to have a summer fling. And while we can't promise a consistent summer, FiXX can promise you consistently great coffee. Hot or cold.
Thanks for reading.