Iced, iced baby

Someone once said, “A day without coffee is like sleep.” True, a cup of steaming hot joe in the morning can awaken the savage sleeping beast. But a tall glass of iced coffee can refresh as well as spark the senses.


While coffee has been around for centuries, iced coffee has only recently been making its global rounds. What once was a summer-only drink found mainly on the East Coast, in Japanese vending machines and Thai restaurants is a menu item available year round in restaurants and coffee houses and, as of this summer, even McDonalds.


The making of iced coffee has become a science – ingredients, temperature, and timing all come into play. While the easiest and quickest way to make a cup at home would be to brew a hot pot (or single cup) and pour over ice, the true iced-coffee artisan would use the cold-brewing (“toddy”) method. This process relies on time, rather than heat – coffee grounds sit in room-temperature water for 12-18 hours, then are sieved through a cheesecloth. (Though I’ve been told a nylon sock works just as well, for you foot fetish/coffee junkies.) The result is a more concentrated coffee taste that is less bitter and up to 67% less acidic.


If you don’t own a Toddy cold-brewer or have a cheesecloth or nylon sock handy, there are excellent places in San Francisco to pick up a nice cold one.


Blue Bottle Coffee’s (315 Linden) claim to java fame is their freshness – small batches of organic beans are roasted and then bagged within 48 hours. With a hint of chicory and a splash of organic Clover milk, their New Orleans iced coffee is as smooth as a N’awlins drawl and helps make Blue Bottle’s kiosk Hayes Valley’s destination coffee house. You can also try their various concoctions at their carts set up at the SF Ferry Plaza Market, Berkeley Farmers’ Market, and Temescal Farmers’ Market.


Philz Coffee (3101 24th St. at Folsom in the Mission, 201 Berry St. at 4th St. near AT&T Park, and their new location in the Castro at 4023 18th near Noe) has been serving San Francisco for 25 years and in a city with a frappuccino-land on practically every city block, you know Phil Jaber has been doing something right. Visit any one of these three locations for the most sublime cup of iced java you may ever have. Their Ecstatic iced coffee – their richest beans blended with the essence of cardamom, brown sugar, mint, and heavy cream – will leave you in iced-coffee heaven.


Boasting one of the coolest java-house logos in the Bay Area coffee scene, Ritual Coffee Roasters (1026 Valencia in the Mission, and 1634 Jerrold in Bayview) percolates of hipness. To make sure you fit in, we suggest accessorizing with either your Macbook, your same-sex significant other, and/or your one-year old toddler in tow. While the beans Ritual uses to cold brew change, depending on the barista’s whim, you will consistently get a delicious glass o’ iced joe. They’ll even make up an iced Americano for you – an espresso mixed with room temperature water, over ice. Add a splash of simple syrup and a few drops of soymilk and you’re good to go.


While we’re all aware of (and thankful for) the extra “oomph” that caffeine gives us, that’s not all coffee is good for: other health benefits include antioxidants to boost immunity and even, some say, the ability to inhibit Parkinson’s deterioration, liver disease, and diabetes. So the next time you need a refreshing, healthy boost, tell your barista to put it on ice. While nobody may be perfect, you might find that a cup of iced coffee could be the perfect antidote to what ails you. And after all, some like it cold.

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