Summer is finally here and that means bring on the cold coffee drinks! With so many different ways to enjoy a cold one, we tried the most interesting and tweaked them to perfection.
Basic Technique for Brewing Iced Coffee
I’m not going to include regular, old iced coffee in this list, but I do think it’s important to cover our basic brew technique. Using a combination of immersion brewing and pour over to finish makes a great balanced cup. We are using our favorite Bee House Coffee Dripper and you can use any pour over brewer that you have available. Start with 25 grams/ 2 heaping tablespoons of coarse ground coffee. Mix it with 250 grams/ 9 ounces of hot water. Do an initial stir and then a second stir after 30 seconds. After a minute and a half pour the entire mixture into a pour over cone over a vessel filled with 150 grams/ 1 cup of ice. Now you have a basic iced coffee!
1. Cold Brewed Coffee
Arguably the most popular on our list of summer coffee drinks! Cold brewed coffee is coffee that is brewed without hot water, i.e. with cold water. Hot water extracts more acidic flavor compounds and bitterness so using a cold brewing technique produces a drink that is more smooth and less bitter. Currently, cold brew is all the rage and you can buy it in so many different forms. We produce a ready-to-drink bottled cold brew that is sold locally in the Chicago area, but if you’re not local to us, or you want to make it at home, it couldn’t be simpler to do yourself. You don’t even need any fancy equipment.
Use a ratio of 1/3 cup coarse ground coffee : 2/3 cup cold filtered water and mix in a mason jar. Give it a good shake and let it sit for a few minutes. Give it a good shake again and put it in your fridge then let it steep overnight, 12-18 hours. When you’re ready to strain it, first pour it through a fine mesh strainer and then run it through a coffee filter. I like to use a Melitta large batch pour over, but you could rig something using a coffee filter and a strainer. You now have a cold brew concentrate! Use 2 tablespoons per 12 ounces. You can mix it with hot water, cold water, or milk.
2. Coffee Palmer
As an Arnold Palmer lover, I was a bit skeptical about the Coffee Palmer, but with the right coffee it is actually pretty good. First I tried it with our bottled cold brew coffee, and found that the flavor fell flat. I then made some hot brewed iced coffee using a fruity Tanzanian and that was the winner. Mix this up with half iced coffee and half lemonade for an easy drink that is light, fruity, and refreshing.
3. Iced Bubble Coffee
Iced bubble coffee is probably the most fun coffee drink on this list and all you need is boba pearls and iced coffee. Boba pearls are made from tapioca and can be found at most Asian markets or easily online. Cook the boba according to the directions and pour iced coffee on top. Super simple! This process will take you less than 10 minutes.
If you like your iced coffee sweetened, you can easily make a simple syrup by dissolving sugar in an equal part of water. Or, if you’re following the iced coffee directions above, instead of pouring your coffee into a vessel of ice you can pour it over your desired amount of sugar, stir, and then add ice.
DO NOT buy any old large size tapioca, or small size tapioca for that matter. If you end up with the wrong type you will waste hours of your life trying to cook it and all you will have to show for it is a sauce pan of gooey tapioca gel. I may be speaking from experience.
4. Cold Brew Float
This drink is a big favorite for us at Modest Coffee and a huge hit with our customers. The nitro cold brew float is our signature drink at summer festivals and while most people, including myself, don’t have a nitro tap system at home, this is just as good with regular cold brew. This recipe is as easy as can be — put some high quality vanilla ice cream in a glass and top with cold brewed coffee. It’s perfect for an afternoon pick me up on a hot summer’s day.
5. Chocolate Coffee Smoothie
This chocolate coffee smoothie is a delicious and healthy way to start your day, and the perfect way to turn coffee into breakfast. To make this, I used 2 tablespoons of homemade chocolate syrup, 1 tablespoon of hemp seeds, 8 ounces of Elmhurst almond milk, 2 tablespoons of homemade cold brew concentrate (see recipe above), and ice to round it out to 12 ounces.
Homemade chocolate syrup is so easy that you’ll never buy it at the store again. In a small sauce pan, stir 2/3 cup of water, 1/3 cup cocoa powder (I use raw cacao powder), and 1/2 cup sugar over medium heat until hot and smooth. Stir in 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and store in the fridge.
Elmhurst plant based milks are great and I highly recommend them. They are nutty and rich, not tasteless and watered down like most nut milks. The way they process their nuts preserves the flavor and nutrition without added stabilizers, thickeners, and other mysterious ingredients. Read more about their unique process here.
6. Iced Dirty Chai
Iced dirty chai is one of my all time favorite summer coffee drinks. It’s spicy and sweet and creamy and cold. To make this, start by following the iced coffee directions above but add 10 grams of chai spice. I love the Indian Spice Tea from Frontier. It’s an herbal tea made with a blend of cinnamon, fennel, ginger, anise, cardamom, cloves, and black pepper. Instead of pouring your coffee over ice, pour it over 2-3 teaspoons of sugar and stir to dissolve before adding ice. Top with whole milk, half ‘n’ half, or a plant based milk and you are good to go.
7. Vietnamese Iced Coffee
This may have been my favorite experiment of the bunch. It took me on a cultural adventure and tastes delicious. Vietnamese coffee is made using an aluminum dripper filter called a phin and is mixed with sweetened condensed milk. My quest for an authentic phin took me to a Vietnamese shop about 20 minutes from our warehouse that had shelves packed with different varieties of sweetened condensed milk and phin filters in varying sizes with filter holes that look like they were punched by hand. If you don’t have a Vietnamese shop nearby you can easily and inexpensively purchase one online.
Making Vietnamese style coffee can be tricky so I definitely recommend watching a YouTube video or two but I will cover some basics. You want the total brew time to be about 4 minutes. I found that using a grind that is on the finer side of medium and really tamping down the top screen helped get my brew in that 4 minute window.
To make Vietnamese iced coffee, first add 1-2 tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk to your cup. Next, remove the inner top screen from your phin and add 25 grams/ 2 heaping tablespoons of coffee to the filter. Tamp this down tightly. Some phin filters have a top screen that screws down and this makes it easier to get the correct amount of pressure. Put your phin over your sweetened condensed milk cup and fill it with hot water. After the coffee is finished dripping through, give the milk and coffee a good stir and then top off with ice. You now have a tasty cà phê đá!
Sweetened condensed milk is the star of this drink and using it in coffee is genius. It makes the coffee creamy and sweet without adding so much liquid that it waters down the flavor. Additionally, the sugar is already dissolved it is easy to mix in hot or cold drinks.
8. Hot Coffee
While some may not consider the humble hot coffee a summer drink, and maybe it doesn’t exactly belong with all of these summer coffee drinks, but I feel you just can’t go wrong with a classic. Most mornings, the first thing I crave is a classic cup of the hot stuff. During the summer I may cool it down with an ice cube or two, but it’s a part of my ritual that I’m not giving up. And according to a recent Sprudge article, research says that hot coffee may be more effective at cooling you down than iced coffee. So hot coffee drinkers, keep doing your thing.
Not Recommended: The Cold Brew Tonic
I see this drink turning up over and over again so I decided I would have to include it in my research. If tonic and anything is your taste, maybe this will be ok for you. To me, tonic is unpleasant and tastes like it’s curing me of malaria. I mixed it with cold brew, terrible. I tried mixing in some lime, slightly less terrible. Any new-fangled coffee drink is worth a try at least once, but with so many tastier coffee options, I don’t see a need to revisit this one.
Have you tried any of these summer coffee drinks before? Have a favorite summer coffee drink not mentioned here? Leave a comment below!