Pour-over iced coffee

Last summer, I wrote about cold-brew iced coffee, which is a great way to produce an iced coffee. It does have its limitations though. Truthfully, cold-brew coffee is really a different beverage than regular brewed coffee. The flavors can be quite different between a cold brew and a regular hot brew, even using the same beans. If you are looking for something that better represents the flavor found in a hot coffee, but you still want a refreshing cold coffee, there is an answer.

Enter pour-over iced coffee. In this method, strong, hot coffee is brewed directly into ice. The coffee is cooled instantly and this process locks in the flavors and aromas that are produced in the hot coffee. You use more grounds and less water since some of the ice will melt and dilute the brew. This method is delicious with a wide range of coffees but it really excels with bright, fruity coffees such as my Ethiopia: Yirgacheffe or Colombia: Huila. You will taste the aroma more than smell it in a pour-over iced coffee. That is to say, the aroma appears more in the aftertaste as it activates your retro-nasal passages. A brief science lesson: hot coffee releases volatile aromatics much faster than a cold solution. So this method effectively traps the hot aromatics in the cup (by rapid cooling) and these aromatics are released when the coffee is warmed up in the back of your throat, as you swallow. With a high-quality coffee, this often produces an explosion of flavors and a wonderful lingering sweetness.

I plan to offer this method of iced coffee at the Farmer's Market using my pour-over stand in a month or two. But, for those of you who can't wait, here is a guide for a single cup at home. Enjoy!


Pour-Over Iced Coffee Brewing Guide

This will produce 16 ounces of iced coffee so make sure you have a big enough glass. The end result will be about 12 ounces of coffee and about 4 ounces of ice. You will also need a pour-over brewer such as a Beehouse, Hario V60, or Bonmac brewer.

  1. Heat your good quality water to 195-205 degrees F and measure out 1 cup of water (8 ounces).
  2. Weigh 8 ounces of ice into your cup (if you are using a 16-oz cup, you can fill it with ice and the space between the ice should add up to about 8 ounces, or if you are using ice cube trays, most standard trays produce 1-ounce cubes, so just add 8 of them to your cup). Anyway you measure, you want to use big ice chunks, not crushed ice, which will melt too fast.
  3. Grind to a medium-fine consistency (on the finer end, slightly coarser than sugar). Since you are pouring less water in, it will brew faster, so a finer grind is important to slow down extraction, and get a full-flavored cup. Use 28 grams of coffee (6-7 tablespoons) for your 16-ounce drink.
  4. Add your paper filter to the brewer and rinse with hot water to remove paper taste and heat the vessel (let it drain into the sink, not into your cup of ice). Add the ground coffee and put the brewer over of your cup of ice. Pour in a few tablespoons of water (wait for 30-45 seconds before continuing). This is called the "bloom".
  5. Pour the rest of the water slowly in a circular motion staying away from the sides of the brewer. Shoot for 2.5-3 minutes total brew time.
  6. If you got your ratios right, you should see that about half of the ice has melted. Give the cup a good stir once brewing is complete, otherwise your first sip might be quite bitter. You can enjoy this iced coffee plain or with cream and sugar. I advise using simple syrup rather than granulated sugar for a cold drink like this.

You can make an iced coffee in your drip coffee maker if you want, just follow the same ratios. This is assuming that your coffee maker does not have a warming tray (or that you can disable it). The pot should contain half ice by volume to start and you should measure out half a pot of water. Use 2 times the amount of coffee that you would to make half a pot. Run your normal brew cycle. It might help to grind a bit finer since the brew will go quicker.

Bryan HibbardComment