NO ONE ROLLS over in bed, shuts off the morning alarm and stumbles off in the direction of the kitchen to make iced coffee. Nor is iced coffee the drink of choice with a light summer salad, a slice of pizza or a bacon cheeseburger for Sunday brunch.
Two things are for certain: There is nothing casual about drinking iced coffee, or about the rigidly held opinions of its aficionados. You drink iced coffee because you love it--you drink iced coffee for itself.
There is even a special vocabulary: You drink a glass, not a cup of iced coffee. And it is iced coffee, not ice coffee.
Beyond the vocabulary, there are two schools of thought on sweetening iced coffee, and again two schools of thought on adding cream to iced coffee. For the iced coffee purist, the only acceptable way to sweeten the drink is with a simple sugar syrup. Members of the other school of sweeteners use regular sugar, but granulated sugar is difficult to dissolve in an iced drink and often leaves granules in the bottom of the glass--a quality really only desirable in iced tea. On the issue of adding cream, one school insists you should mix it with the coffee before pouring the coffee over ice. The second group says that you pour it into the already iced coffee, letting the cream swirl and bounce through the ice cubes like a lava lamp. The latter is the preferred See COFFEE, E7, Col. 1 Nicely Iced ---COFFEE, From E1 technique because it allows you to display the brilliant clarity of the drink itself before the cream is added. In extreme circles, there is a contingency that maintains the cream is added, but not stirred into the drink.
So when does one drink iced coffee? You drink iced coffee whenever you want to, from about the first of June through the middle of September--though some particularly enthusiastic fans regard this seasonal restriction as outdated as the refusal to wear white shoes before Memorial Day.
The ultimate glass of iced coffee should be dark in color and brilliantly clear. It should have a full-bodied flavor that is complex and round, that breaks evenly in your mouth, and that above all else is smooth. There should never be an acidic bite in the back of the throat.
To make a great cup of coffee one needs, first and foremost, a great coffee bean which has those qualities just described. The bean most commonly available that meets these conditions is Jamaican. To get the depth of character, however, the bean should have a dark French roast. French roast Jamaican beans are available in certain coffee shops (in one Washington area shop, the going price is $8 a pound). But be careful: Many of the French roasted beans sold in the Washington area are Colombian, which make an unbalanced and not particularly smooth drink. Ask before you buy.
To get the biggest flavor with the least acid, the best brewing technique is the Peruvian way of brewing coffee with cold water. This simple and effective method is described in detail in the recipe below. But before getting to the brewing, a word about the water and the ice cubes is necessary.
Normal tap water in the District has a distinctive flavor that is certainly not desirable for making great coffee, where the water acts as a supporting flavor to the final drink. At the same time, expensive imported mineral waters are often so high in mineral and salt content that they distract from the natural flavor of the coffee. The best water is simple spring water.
Iced coffee lovers often debate the issue of the ice cubes. Should they be made from coffee, as one is occasionally wont to find in fine restaurants, or from water? The answer is water, spring water. Nothing is as undesirable to look at as cloudy beige cubes in a cloudy glass of sparkling iced coffee. And the cold brewing technique produces a thick coffee specifically designed to withstand a little diluting from the ice.
Here is the proper way to make a superlative glass of iced coffee. THE ULTIMATE ICED COFFEE (Makes 2 to 2 1/2 quarts) 1/2 pound coffee beans (regular or percolator grind) About 3 quarts spring water, cold or at room temperature
Combine the coffee grounds and 6 cups of the water in a very large bowl, stirring gently so that all the grounds are moistened. Cover and allow to stand at room temperature for 10 to 12 hours. Strain through a sieve lined with a clean linen towel, or pour into the top of a drip system lined with its paper insert (Melitta or any similar system is good for this and eliminates the mess of a coffee-drenched linen towel). Transfer to jars and add twice as much spring water as you have brewed coffee. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
To serve, fill tall glasses with ice cubes and add the cold coffee.
To sweeten iced coffee, combine a cup of sugar with 1/2 cup spring water and heat in a saucepan until syrup forms. Cool in the refrigertor. Pass the syrup in a creamer.
For those who drink their iced coffee black, drop a zest of either lemon or orange on top of the coffee. For those who drink their coffee "white", as the British say, pass half-and-half or light cream. Whipping cream is too heavy in flavor and too high in butterfat for great iced coffee.
Cinnamon sticks or silver spoons should be used for stirring.