Every eater is an opinionator, which is why Voracious today is kicking off a new column devoted to the food-based disagreements that might forever divide us if they weren't such great fodder for dinnertime conversations. Tabletop Wrestling is where our contributors will take up the food world's hornet's nests and sacred cows, with each side passionately argued by a writer who cares deeply about the topic. In our column's first installment, Sara Billups and Rose Tosti debate the merits of cold brew and iced coffee.
In the specialty coffee world, there are the hipsters, the geeks, and the clueless following the pack. These days, just about everyone has an opinion about the merits of cold brew versus ice brew coffee. If you're into the handlebar mustache, suspender world of craft coffee, you're likely a cold brew fan whether you know it or not. In these parts, cold brew can follow you home in stubbies and growlers from Stumptown. It's on tap at Analog Coffee, too.
Cold brew is prepared by steeping coffee in cold water, while ice brew is made using a pour over method, with hot water dripped through a filter onto ice. While others disagree, some ice brew experts argue that the acids in coffee that contribute the most nuanced flavors are dulled down by steeping grounds in cold water instead of heating them first. Both are valid methods of brewing, and like ice brew, cold brew can be made well or sloppily.
There's no special equipment required to make home brew in your kitchen, and most anyone can do it. You just need freshly ground coffee, ice cubes, a pitcher, and a refrigerator.
Where cold brew really has the edge is in drinkability. Cold brew is sweet and gulpable. Cold brew is more like a hug than a slap on the face. Cold brew is made for milk.
Pro-coffee cuppers like acidity, but the rest of us tend to swing to the side of sweetness. And really, is floral nuance and brightness what you're looking for on a hot summer day? Odds are, you want to knock back a couple of glasses of refreshing coffee on the rocks. Not to mention that cold brew's earthy goodness is ideal for summer cocktails. Just ask Murray Stenson - Sara Billups
Every summer, the same quandary strikes: you want coffee (need coffee, actually)... but it's hot out. In some cities, this wouldn't matter. But in our little sun-deprived corner of the nation it can feel downright ungrateful to indulge in hot beverages during that brief window of opportunity in which cooler refreshments don't make your teeth chatter. Oh wait! (A sleepy memory from last summer surfaces...) Can't you ice coffee?
Yes, as a matter of fact, you can. And every coffee shop in town does [http://cdn.soundpublishing.com/voracious/2010/08/cafe_javasti_cold_brew_coffee.php], by some form or another. In recent years, "Toddy" and other cold brewing methods have become all-the-rage, but for some of us, allegiance remains with the simple logic of iced coffee... for three really good reasons.
First, because iced coffee is familiar. However you normally brew your coffee, chances are that only a slight alteration in water ratio will allow you to use the exact same method to quell your summer coffee cravings. Use the same dose coffee, cut back on the amount of water... make up the difference with ice. Voila! Iced coffee.
Second, because iced coffee can also be versatile and adventurous. Feel like trying a Chemex instead of your usual French Press? Want to try a new region or roast? Iced coffee don't care. (Too much.)
Finally, and of greatest import, because iced coffee helps to maintain the coffee's original integrity. While some extol the virtues of the low acidity produced by cold brewing, others find cold brewed coffees heavy and boring. Many of coffee's individually distinguishing characteristics are present in its acids: those notes that make it sparkle, give it depth, or tip the palate off to what a coffee's origins might be. Removing those elements is really smart if you have stomach ulcers. Otherwise, why go without? - Rose Tosti
Who's right? Who's wrong? Tell us how you make cold coffee - and whether Billups or Tosti persuaded you to do things differently.