The thing about summer is that some of us are happy to see the sun, but all it takes is one sleepless night in a hot apartment and we're complaining about the oppressive heat. How do you get going in the morning when all you really want to do is sit in a bath full of ice cubes all day? With limited success, and usually requiring a huge amount of caffeine.

But drinking hot coffee on a hot summer's day doesn't exactly sound very refreshing, does it? Fortunately, the coffee bean is a versatile little thing and can still give us the kick we need, even when chilled. And with a cold drink in your hand, even a hot summer day runs more smoothly. But what's the difference between the iced coffee we know and love and the trend for cold brew? And what exactly is this cold drip coffee method that some coffee connoisseurs are going on about? Time for an overview!

What is cold brew?

There can only be one king of cold coffee: cold brew coffee! Room-temperature water is poured over fresh, coarsely ground beans. The mixture is then placed in the fridge – preferably overnight– and just needs to be strained after around 12 hours. A French press works well, as does a filter in a holder, like with good old filter coffee. But even a fine-meshed cloth squeezed out over a pot will do the job. And there you have it – your own cold brew concentrate. We say "concentrate", because the cold brew method (and also the cold drip method) requires more coffee than usual. Although there is more flavour and aroma in the essence, the caffeine content can be too potent for some.

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What's the advantage of this lengthy method?

Cold brew coffee is softer and more full-bodied on the palate. This is because brewing coffee with hotter water releases more of the beans' ingredients, including oils which, once heated, can suddenly taste sour. The cold brew method also minimizes the bitter substances in coffee because these also react more strongly to heat but are not completely activated in the more time-consuming preparation method.

People who find the cold brew concentrate too intense should supplement their portion with ice-cold water or milk to taste. What's more, it's easy to give a home-made cold brew a little kick. Just adding a few spices to the mixture of coffee and water – nutmeg, cardamom and vanilla are ideal, for example – is a quick way to create your own personal cold brew essence.

Coffee granita with hot caramel nuts
Coffee as dessert: Coffee granita with caramel nuts, …
Caffè mocha

... creamy caffè mocha ...

 

Chocolate and coffee mousse
… or chocolate and coffee mousse.

What is cold drip?

The cold drip method feels a bit like being back in the chemistry lab in school – probably because of the equipment you need to make it. Ice-cold water slowly filters through a flask onto freshly ground coffee beans, making cold coffee that brings out the delicate aromas and oils from the brown beans – with barely any bitter substances or release of acidity. It's a gentle method for the best enjoyment, although it requires both initial investment (for the dripper) and a huge amount of time – it takes at least ten hours to make cold drip coffee.

What is iced coffee?

Less time-consuming than cold brew or cold drip coffee, and also much easier to make, iced coffee is now also experiencing a revival in the form of ice brew. To prepare a puristic iced coffee, freshly brewed espresso or lungo is carefully poured into a glass or cup containing ice cubes, or, in the case of ice brew, dripped onto the ice cubes through a coffee filter. The resulting drink can be enjoyed pure, with milk or slightly sweetened. Simply stir briefly and your refreshing pick-me-up is ready to drink. The problem with this preparation method is that the melted ice dilutes the coffee and, somehow, the favourite drink of many is usually served lukewarm rather than ice cold. The Viennese version has an answer, though it really makes it more of a dessert – instead of ice cubes, a scoop of vanilla ice cream is used. With a neat dollop of whipped cream and chocolate sauce on top, of course.

Recipe: Cold brew coffee
Recipe video: It's easy to make cold brew coffee!

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