I drink iced coffee year round. Doesn’t matter the temperature outside. Even when the thermometer plunged to 5 degrees in York City a few weeks ago, I walked to Cafe Grumpy, my local joint in Chelsea, and ordered an iced redeye (iced coffee with a shot of espresso; I like the espresso less for its caffeine kick and more for the nuttiness and depth of flavor it imparts).
In the afternoon, sometimes I’ll dip down to the Bon Appétit Test kitchen, where we have a beautiful La Marzocco espresso machine. And here’s where things get a bit complicated.
Have you ever made an iced espresso? Or ordered one at a restaurant? I’ve done both, often driving waiters crazy when doing the latter.
Because there’s a right way to do it and then there’s the way that everyone else does it.
The challenge is, if you just pull the shot and pour it over the ice, the ice melts more than you’d like. And then, because the drink is now cold, if you add sugar, it won’t dissolve—especially that sugar in raw stuff. I know, first-world problems.
So, courtesy of my obsessiveness and an assist from our Food Director Carla Lalli Music, here’s how I get a perfectly blended and chilled iced espresso:
•You want hot espresso to dissolve the sugar. So, says Carla, put a spot of sugar in the espresso cup before you pull your shot. As the espresso drips into the cup, the sugar will melt.
•Okay, but now you’ve got hot espresso and cold ice. That’s why I like to temper the espresso with cold milk (whole, always whole). You’ve now got warm, not hot, espresso. This is a good thing. Now you can pour it over the ice (small glass, lots of ice) without meltage.
•So: Sugar in espresso cup; pull shot; cold milk; quickly pour it over the ice (the quicker the pour, the less you’ll spill); stir; enjoy.
Of course, in restaurants, this is, well, more difficult to achieve. I usually order a double espresso with a glass of ice on the side, along with some cold milk. I’ve even asked for this set up in broken Italian, while in Milan for work. The waiters look at me like I’m insane. Which, sure, maybe I am. But I get my iced espresso exactly how I like it.