Once upon a time, I was a barista. With minimal coffee training and a basic knowledge of drink proportions, I hoped my big heart for the bean would compensate for my lack of experience. When I received my first iced coffee order, I scooped a generous handful of ice cubes into a green cold ware cup. Then, I poured hot drip coffee over them. Voila, iced coffee! Or so I thought. The customer asked, “Are you out of the real iced coffee?” I’m so glad that the real iced coffee was brewed in an overnight toddy and a fraction of it was stored in a ready-to-pour pitcher.
I’ve learned a lot since that moment. Iced coffee isn’t as simple as pouring hot coffee over ice. Depending on the method – hot brew, toddy, Japanese, cold brew – iced coffee is a scientific process of reactions based upon minimal minutes to multiple hours. When asked, “Are all iced coffees created equal?” the following ten coffee fronts weighed in. Below, learn about their methods, what they’re planning for summer and the type of coffee break you can expect when you’re ready for cool relief from what we hope is an endless hot summer.
Coffee Shop: Naidre’s : 384 7th Ave btwn 11th and 12th
Bean: Counter Culture
Process: Beans are weighed and finely ground. Hot water is filtered onto an even spread of grinds, with an exit over ice. The double strength brew cools instantly maintaining flavor and strength.
Summer Expectations: Seasonal direct trade beans. “Our coffee flavor changes based upon the bean, but there’s always a note of chocolate when you cold brew,” says manager Jesse Auguste. The café has a kitchen with a full menu. Sweet treats and vegan desserts (try the carrot cake) area made in-house. Ask for their picnic basket specials – perfect for a play date in Prospect Park or a concert at Celebrate Brooklyn!
Cost: 2.50 – $3.75 for 12-24 oz
Coffee Shop: Roots Café : 639A 5th Ave btwn 18th and 19th
Method: Overnight Brew
Process: Starting with their Stumptown house blend, a big pot is brewed and left to chill overnight. To compensate for ice watering down the coffee ¼ of additional ground beans are used to a pot of iced coffee as compared to a regular one.
Summer Expectations: Owner Jamey Hamm will “serve whatever you want, within reason.” So feel free to ask for traditional drinks like an espresso over ice. If you’re inclined to linger, there’s a little backyard patio where lounging is welcome and you can hear live music every week.
Cost: Espresso over Iced $2.75|16 oz Iced Coffee $3.00|Iced Latte $4.75
Coffee Shop: Café Martin : 355 5th Ave btwn 4th and 5th
Bean: Strongtree Heirloom
Method: While Martin doesn’t disclose the how of his iced brew, he says “quality is in the experience.” He discovered the Hudson Valley Roaster by accident and chose them based on taste alone.
Summer Expectations: Martin says expect something “strong, flavorful and amazing.” While he admits – with a smirk – to having an ego, he wants you to come into his self-named, austere café for accessible community, free of the encumbrance of WI-FI and laptops. Under brass pipes, tin ceilings, sit on an old church pew while you peruse the day’s paper, linger with The London Review of Books, and later this season, stay for beer and wine.
Cost: Iced Coffee $2:50
Coffee Shop: Zora Art Space : 315 4th Ave btwn 2nd and 3rd
Bean: Fair Trade, Organic
Method: Owner Zohrah has a simple process which she says yields “great coffee.” It is hot brewed then chilled.
Summer Expectations: This multi area-art space is named after the owner who took a liking to literary great Zora Neale Hurston. It’s a launching spot for young artists, providing a local alternative to showcase music and host book parties. A full calendar of events includes film screenings, art exhibitions and alfresco events in the backyard garden.
Cost: $3.00 Iced Coffee
Coffee Shop: 4&20 Blackbirds : 439 3rd Ave btwn 7th and 6th
Bean: Irving Farm
Method: Cold Brew
Process: It starts with a single-origin sustainably sourced bean. A medium grind is used with fresh cold filtered water overnight for 12 hours.
Summer Expectations: Handmade tables and a hand-painted rug adorn this high ceilinged, open spaced, sun-filled communal corner spot. The shop rotates four to five pies daily. Fruit pies this summer include nectarine blueberry, stone fruit crumble and strawberry balsamic. A slice of farm fresh fruit pie and single origin iced coffee is a great refresher in the summer. Whether you stay in-house or take your coffee to go, the quality provides just the break you’re looking for.
Cost: $2.50 – $3
Coffee Shop: Red Horse Café : 497 6th Ave btwn 11th and 12th
Bean: Barrington Coffee
Method: Hot Brew, Ice Sticks
Process: After a fresh hot brew, coffee sits until it’s at a temperature cool enough to chill in the fridge. Ice sticks are brewed and frozen to retain bean strength when the ice melts. At times, hot coffee gets a cold pitcher bath to accommodate summer demand.
Summer Expectations: RHC’s ice sticks are a summer feature for their iced coffee. You can experience them in other iced drinks upon request. Flexible owners Carolina and Brett love coffee and experimenting with it. This summer, SoCo Creamery joins the menu. Ask for the affogato, two shots of espresso into traditional flavors of ice cream.
Cost: $3.25 affogato
Coffee Shop: Café Grumpy : 383 7th Ave btwn 11th and 12th
Bean: Grumpy Roastery
Process: It starts with quality seasonal beans. A full cold brew concentrate extracts overnight, coaxing notes of bourbon, with water dilution.
Summer Expectations: Their hand-picked beans from green sellers are the center of what co-owner Caroline says creates “a different environment for a coffee shop. Our focus is coffee and representing the hard work of a commodity that isn’t cheap.” The espresso bar is a great place to sit and the communal table provides a nice lookout point to perch. Iced lattes are a summer fave. Bring your own cup and get 25 cents off the price of your drink. This quirky, yet relaxed space asks for a few minutes of your downtime.
Cost: $3.25 – $4.50
Coffee Shop: Southside : 656 6th Ave btwn 17th and 18th
Bean: PT’s, Counter Culture
Process: Coffee is coarsely ground, extracted overnight in water at room temperature, yielding a super smooth and super sweet profile.
Summer Expectations: You never know what will be brewing or playing at this shop where eclectic meets minimalist. Iced Coffee is sometimes brewed with any of the above beans with a sweet note. While, espresso-based iced drinks have chocolate, caramel and nuttiness. While you wait for your drink the soundtrack ranges widely – from Public Enemy to Cesaria Evora, according to co-owner Ben Jones.
Cost: One size $3-3:50
Coffee Shop: Has Beans : 620 5th Ave btwn 17th and 18th
Bean: Primarily a French bean
Method: Brews 1 ½ times the regular strength to compensate for the melting of ice.
Summer Expectations: Owner Peggy has been in the bean business for more than 30 years, eight at this location. She pulls espresso-based shots of iced coffee from a white and silver Elektra machine. Cinnamon hazelnut is offered as a flavored brew. Wi-Fi and computer rentals are available to use while you enjoy your drink. Inside you will find Peggy working shifts, playing a Pandora shuffle of blues, and serving Red Mango vegan pastries. Gluten free cookies are coming soon. “Without the customers what am I?” asks Peggy. “This is a place for everybody, and we give people what they want.”
Cost: 16 oz $2.50|24 oz $3.50
Coffee Shop: Tea Lounge : 837 Union Street btwn 6th and 7th
Bean: Benbows, FT & Organic
Method: Hot Brew
Process: The daily hot brew is chilled in the fridge without ice. If sugar or sweetener is requested with an order, baristas start with a bit of hot coffee to dissolve the crystals, then add the iced coffee.
Summer Expectations: In addition to iced coffee, there are four ready-made iced teas – green, black, herbal and fruit – in addition to fresh iced chai. Specialty iced drinks include their “Rocket Fuel,” which is espresso over ice with a little half and half. If your tasetbuds are flavor-inclined, try the Nutella Breve – espresso, hazelnut coffee and chocolate over ice.
Cost: 16-24 oz $2.75- 3.75