A master barista's guide to everything from caffe fredo to cold steeping and cold brewing—with an emphasis on proper technique and how to preserve true coffee flavor
With seemingly little thought, or plan, our beverage choices naturally evolve with the seasons. Full-bodied cabernets give way to light-hearted spritzers. Dark, malty ales yield to blonder lagers. For coffee, the iced kind takes a supporting role, if not a leading one.
Iced coffee is a global phenomenon with some good local color. In Greece, where per capita coffee consumption ranks among the world's highest, one-third of coffee is consumed as the iced coffee Greeks call frappe. Simple and refreshing: just combine ice, espresso, and simple syrup in a blender until it thickens like a smoothie, then pour over ice from your freezer. (Ice from a freezer tray is better to use than ice from a refrigerator's ice machine, which is usually less dense and therefore less effective at keeping frosty beverages cool.)
Moving along the Mediterranean, we land in Italy, where the trend now is cooling a single or double espresso in a cocktail shaker, with a lot of ice and maybe a little simple syrup (50 percent sugar, 50 percent water, boiled for five minutes and then cooled). Milk, Baileys, and coffee or vanilla liqueur are often added to create coffee cocktails. The Italians strain out the ice for a smooth coffee drink. This method yields far better results than the old-style caffe freddo, a cold coffee drink still served in many bars across Italy—a lot of espresso shots mixed with water and sugar, refrigerated for a couple of hours, then served straight in the glass.