Flash Brewed Iced Coffee

Thursday, September 8th, 2016 by

Flash Brew

If you’re one of the many iced coffee lovers who’ve made the switch to cold brew, you may be wondering what all the fuss is about “flash brewed” iced coffee. Back before cold brew was a thing, iced coffee was often regular strength hot coffee (or yesterday’s coffee) poured over ice. The result was watery and disappointing. Also called ice brewed or Japanese-style iced coffee, flash brewed iced coffee is brewed fresh over ice, usually using a pour-over brewer like the Chemex or Hario. For a visual, check out our video on brewing hot or iced coffee with the Chemex. It can also be made with a regular old automatic drip machine or an Aeropress. The key is allowing the coffee to drip directly onto the ice as it brews. Drip by drip, it cools instantly and less dilution occurs than if you were to dump a cup or a pot full of hot coffee over ice.

Flash brew vs. cold brew

If cold brew tastes a little flat to you, that’s because ground coffee requires heat to release some of its acids and aromatic oils (for details on the cold brewing method, check out our post). Cold brewed coffee is much less acidic, but possibly also less nuanced in flavor. High temperatures also cause these oils to oxidize and degrade over time, resulting in the sour or stale taste coffee acquires after sitting on a burner too long. Both methods claim to minimize oxidation, cold brewing by omitting heat and flash brewing by minimizing the amount of time between exposure to heat and consumption.

Another important difference between cold brew and flash brew is texture. Cold brew is less filtered since the coffee sits in contact with the grounds for a long period and some finer sediment dissolves over time. The end result is a rich, mellow cup, with the velvety texture of French press coffee. Flash brewed coffee by comparison is cleaner and crisper, with more bite, more aroma, and some would argue, more flavor.

Flash brewed coffee also has a few convenient advantages over cold brews, depending on your perspective. While nothing is lazier than dumping grounds and water in a bowl and letting them sit, flash brewed coffee is ready right away – no wait required. Also, less coffee is required since cold brew recipes typically make a concentrate with a high ratio of grounds to water. For flash brewing, start with the amount of coffee you would normally use, and replace half the brewing water with ice. Increase the grounds to water ratio if you like a little stronger taste from your iced coffee.

So which one wins? They are both great, but certain coffees are better with one brewing method than with the other. Cold brewing will emphasize more chocolaty or nutty characteristics while the acidity of flash brew will taste fruitier. Try picking a single origin coffee with an acidity level and flavor notes that will either play up or balance these characteristics. For instance, the higher acidity level of Ethiopian Yirgacheffe really jazzes up a cup of cold brew. To further emphasize its brightness, try it flash brewed. To minimize the acidic flavor of flash brewed coffee, try an Indonesian varietal like Papua New Guinea or Estate Java. Flash Brewed coffee tends to have a more nuanced flavor, perfect for a light roast coffee, but there are no rules. Experiment with roast level, see what you like, and share your recommendations!

 

 

 

Aeropress Basics

Friday, September 18th, 2015 by

 

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The TSA-friendly Aeropress, on vacation in County Monaghan, Ireland.

We love the Aeropress. Why? It’s easy to use, affordable, compact, and produces a rich, flavorful cup of coffee. If you’re brewing for one (or two), it takes up a heck of a lot less space on a kitchen counter than an automatic drip brewer, though the shape may raise some eyebrows. The Aeropress loves to travel, it’s quick to use, and easy to clean. It fits great in a backpack or even a purse — take it to the office or on your next camping trip. Ready to try it? Here are the basics:

Brewing Instructions

  1. Boil some water and let it cool for about a minute.
  2. Place a filter inside the cap and place the Aeropress over your mug without the plunger inside.
  3. Wet the filter slightly with a little warm water.
  4. Pour in 2 scoops of finely ground coffee (we use a grind slightly finer than standard autodrip). A plastic funnel comes with the Aeropress for this purpose, but you may find that you don’t need it.
  5. Add the hot water until it reaches the number four.
  6. Stir (Aeropress comes with a little paddle).
  7. Insert plunger and PRESS firmly.

You’re done! Drink as is or dilute it with hot water to taste.

Aero2steam

Once you’ve got this down, give the reverse method a try. The coffee steeps a little longer in the hot water, producing a flavor closer to French press coffee.

The Reverse Method

  1. Start with the plunger in the Aeropress and flip upside-down so the top of the plunger is resting your mug.
  2. Pour in two scoops of finely ground coffee.
  3. Hold the cylinder steady over the cup and add hot water until nearly full.
  4. Stir with your paddle.
  5. Steep for one minute (you might want to experiment with steep time to get the flavor you like).
  6. Attach the cap with a filter inside.
  7. Flip it, carefully, and place over your mug.
  8. PRESS.

There you go. Two easy methods, two great cups of coffee. One weird looking tube thing no one would ever guess has anything to do with coffee. Enjoy!

Photo credit, top: Stacey Meola