One of my favorite (non-boozy) drinks is a good iced coffee. I’ve noticed that in some countries, an iced coffee comes with a scoop of ice cream. And while t
hat’s yummy, it’s not quite right to me. I like my ice coffee pretty simple: good quality coffee, served ice cold, sweet and milky. What I really don’t like is when lazy baristas prepare iced coffee by pouring hot coffee into a glass filled with ice. They might as well call that “somewhat cool, watered down coffee”. Not only is the temperature not right but the flavor is diluted, thanks to all the melted ice.
When researching a story a few years ago, I came across the description of a café in Tokyo that had been pitched to my colleagues and I as the home of the best iced coffee in Japan. The owners of this café used only the very best and most expensive Blue Mountain coffee. The coffee was mixed with milk and sugar and then poured into a cocktail shaker. This was sealed tightly and then spun… yes, spun… on top of a giant block of ice. The coffee gets chilled without any additional water diluting it. Fantastic! And of course a tad extreme.
One of the best iced coffees in Singapore used to at the Four Seasons Hotel. In the past, they served their iced coffee with coffee ice cubes. That way, as the ice melted, not only was there no dilution, but the coffee in the glass was replenished. Unfortunately, they’ve stopped serving it this way. Another good iced coffee drink can be found at Café Rosso, in Holland Village. They do a drink there which consists of a tall glass filled with coffee ice cubes. This is served with sugar syrup and milk, which you add to the coffee ice cubes.
I’ve wanted to recreate this at home for a long time. But I’ve long felt that the drink just wasn’t right with small ice cubes (like the ones used at Café Rosso). Then, a few weeks ago, during one of our regular Ikea runs (yup, S and I like to visit Ikea every few months, just to see what’s new), we spotted some great rubber ice trays. Not only were they fashioned in bright colors, but they came in a variety in shapes and sizes. We were immediately drawn to a set of red ones that would hold 4 very large cubes each.
I’ve been in iced coffee heaven ever since. We use these trays to make large blocks of frozen coffee. Each cube is large enough for one drink. All I do is place it in a nice glass and add a splash of cold milk. I then mix a tablespoon of sugar with another 2 ounces or so of milk and zap it in the microwave, just long enough to melt the sugar. I mix this up well and pour this over the iced coffee ice cube, which helps melt it just a bit. The beauty of using a large ice cube versus small ones is that the larger the ice cube the slower it melts. Of course, this means I’m forced to take my time enjoying this drink, sipping it slowly as the cube melts. But that suits me just fine.