To say I’m an espresso aficionado is to say shoes are just okay. If there were a word to describe my unconditional love for the fine, dark, robust roast, I’d coin it. You’d think I started drinking espresso at an early age. Some kids in our family have. But truthfully, I didn’t get into it until I was in my early 20s. Though I knew having two shots was mandatory morning routine in our house, I didn’t appreciate anything about it except for that it made my mother terribly irritable if she didn’t have some within minutes of opening her eyes.
I’ve become my mother. My mornings are quiet and only perfect after I’ve had three shots of a Cuban brand. Add one teaspoon of raw sugar and un poco de creme and I’m off to a great day! I’m chastised by some of our Cuban friends for making it more of an Americanized café con leche, but it’s entirely too good to pass up and limit myself to a straight black shot. I reserve that for 4 pm or so when I’m feeling my head nod. But imagine this: a steamy hot demitasse of the best coffee in the world (yup, it really is) with a pinch of sweetness and toned down to a perfect mocha color.
Now that the weather has broken with record temperatures and spring is here, boasting colorful blossoms and vibrant stems, the thought of a blistering hot cup at 2 is not so sexy. It makes me sweaty just thinking about the unsexiness added heat would create! 90 degree weather and a piping drink. Not so much.
Iced coffee it is.
Since I’m always craving a super jolt, it’s quite sensical to enjoy the same concoction, only chilled. Iced coffee has become en mode in the last 10 years or so. I remember the first time I was treated to one back in D.C. The best coffee shop I’ve ever stepped in, had the most creative fusions of espresso and flavored syrups. With bigger national brands piercing forward, this innovative indie shop didn’t stand a chance, so back to the big cahoonas.
I wasn’t thrilled about paying $3 for a cup of cold coffee that I’d hook up with some sugar and creme. I pay that for a whole brick of the Cuban ish. It was only a matter of time before I started chilling the leftover morning brew for an afternoon sip. I only started two years ago and only if I remembered. That’s changed. And I’m terribly excited about it.
For the last two weeks, the only thing I been pressing my lips to at snack time, has been a mason jar of the good, good stuff. And muy frio!
There’s nothing more delicious than my morning cup of café con leche iced out and cold. It’s like getting an unexpected package full of chocolates or a call from Mami singing one her Latin ballad renditions. That’s stand around here.
But there are a few minor tricks to the magic of enjoying the perfect glass of iced café.
1. You must sweeten the entire brew while it’s still hot– something national coffee houses don’t do and some other sites have suggested. Sugar doesn’t dissolve so well or as fast in cold temperatures. It only makes sense to add it while it’s hot.
2. Don’t add ice to hot coffee! It’s only going to water it down — whether your’e chilling espresso or drip. What you should do is transfer your coffee into a sealed container and chill for 3 hours in at the fridge or 45 minutes in the freezer, depending on your appliance’s power.
3. One key step: Add creme (if that’s how you like it) only when you’re ready to have it. You want a well blended taste when you’re ready to have. Adding it before will allow the cream to settle in too much and make it a a bit too creamy, and even start separating.
4. When you’re ready, add your chilled coffee to a martini shaker and add some ice. Shake it up and pour! This makes for a perfectly even tall glass of iced espresso with a nice foam topping.
A few notes. If you want it instantly, icing it while it’s hot will only water down your coffee and dilute your robust taste. It’s best to chill your coffee in the morning so that it’s ready for an afternoon glass. Trust me on this one. If you HAVE to have it now and didn’t chill it, make sure you’re espresso is bit stronger so that your taste and richness isn’t compromised by the addition of ice. K? Good.
And, another really ridiculously great way of having it is to use sweetened condensed milk. Skip sweetening your brew with sugar or using creme and add condensed milk instead. Because sweetened condensed milk is so thick, it’s best to add it while the coffee is still hot so that it dissolves and blends well. You’ll be slaving over your blending your goods if you wait to add it once the coffee’s cold.
There you go. The best and easiest drink you can make at home and enjoy every day. Literally. Save yourself those bucks at your otherwise fave coffee joint and make it yourself. It’s a simple pleasure.
- 1 cup brewed espresso
- 3 tbsp. raw sugar
- 1/4 cup whole milk or cream (I use a mix of whole milk and half and half)
- 1 tsp. good quality vanilla extract
Sweeten brewed espresso and chill for 3 hours or fast freeze for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from fridge and transfer to martini shaker. Add cream and vanilla extract to coffee. Shake well. Pour over ice-filled glass.
*Chef's notes: add an extra tablespoon of sugar if you like your coffee really sweet. Keep in mind milk is sweet and will naturally sweeten it. Of course, flavored syrup or flavored creamer is an option, too. If you go that route, you don't have to sweeten the coffee. It all really depends on your sweet preference.