Five great iced coffees
It's cold-brewed, stupid.
Mon May 31 2010
Ninth Street Espresso
Iced coffee: 12 oz for $2.50
700 E 9th St between Aves C and D (212-358-9225) * Chelsea Market, 75 Ninth Ave at 15th St (212-228-2930)
Ken Nye of Ninth Street Espresso is a New York coffee pioneer. He opened his caf back in 2001 and started cold-brewing iced coffee in 2007, well before others got on board. His is one of the most classic—and least expensive—iced coffees of its kind in the city. One pound of the shop's nutty Alphabet City espresso blend, roasted by Intelligentsia, is mixed with three fourths of a gallon of water in the Filtron—a large container equipped with felt and muslin filters that extract the beans' natural sweetness—for 12 hours. The resulting coffee is a half-concentrate, half-water combo, and accounts for at least 50 percent of Ninth Street Espresso's sales during the summer months.
The filtering process and Alphabet City blend create a low-acidity cold brew. The price and gentle taste make this a great everyday choice.
Cold-brew latte: 16 oz for $4
71 Worth St between Broadway and Church St (212-226-1111)
This Tribeca coffeeshop is known for its espresso, so it only makes sense that it serves a killer iced latte. The baristas here use Fair Trade organic dark-blend coffee from Queens' Dallis Coffee (containing lots of Central American beans, known for their nuttiness and chocolate undertones) and grind it very coarsely. They put it in the Filtron Pro for a day-long brewing process. This method draws out the maximum amount of concentrate for a thicker, fuller body and a serious caffeine buzz. The concentrate is then poured over ice, topped with whole milk and mixed with simple syrup.
Instead of being used to mask bitterness, the simple syrup enhances the coffee's inherent sweetness, making for a beverage with a crowd-pleasing flavor without any grainy, excessive sugar.
Stumptown Coffee Roasters
Cold brew: 12 oz for $2.75
Ace Hotel, 18 W 29th St between Fifth Ave and Broadway (646-214-5749)
The Portland, Oregon, roaster pours a good ten pounds of its celebrated direct-trade, organic house blend—a floral, nutty combination of Latin American and East African beans—into the Filtron device for the 12- to 14-hour cold-brewing process. This creates a concentrate (also loved by mixologists for making coffee cocktails), which the baristas serve in a ratio of two parts coffee with one part water, over ice.
The Filtron process naturally draws a gentle caramel flavor from the bean, meaning you get a light, unobtrusive sweetness that's balanced with faint floral notes. The dilution of the concentrate means it's not too acidic and easy on the stomach.
Owner Elizabeth Quijada uses a device called the Toddy, known for its ability to remove almost two thirds of a coffee's natural acidity, to brew her Abrao house blend. She gently pours water over a pound of coarsely ground beans from Counter Culture—a robust combination of Brazilian, Sumatran and Ethiopian beans—in the Toddy's filter up to three times and sets it to rest for a maximum of 12 hours. Quijada serves the concentrate over ice.
Not diluting the cold brew makes for a much stronger coffee and allows the complex nature of the blend to come through, while the use of the Toddy and the slow, hand-pouring process make for a mellower product. What you end up with is a full-bodied cup with a dark caramel color, rich chocolaty taste, hints of citrus and a lingering sweetness.
Blue Bottle Coffee
Kyoto coffee: 12 oz for $4.25
160 Berry St between North 4th and 5th Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-534-5488)
A Bay Area import, Blue Bottle gets its inspiration from Japan, which is nowhere more apparent than in its iced coffee. Baristas pour two liters of water into the huge globes sitting atop five Kyoto slow-drippers. The water filters through at a rate of one drop every two seconds, splattering onto a cloth that disperses the liquid into a container filled with single-origin, natural-process coffee (meaning the beans are dried without removing the surrounding cherry fruit) for 12 to 20 hours, before being refrigerated.
The long-dripping system leaves the coffee with an intense smoky flavor and bite, not unlike whiskey—suitably, it's intended to be enjoyed black over ice. Plus, it's served undiluted, so it has a caffeine kick like a mule. The natural-process beans, often Sidamo from Ethiopia or Poco Fundo from Brazil, offer a richness with hints of blueberry, and it's low on acidity for a smooth finish.
How to brew coffee