Summer is here and Chicago has turned very hot and very humid, which is typical July weather for this part of the country. Today’s weather is also the inspiration for today’s blog. With coffee seemingly its own menu segment any more, from the McCafe at McDonald’s to Starbuck’s in your grocery store and Dunkin Donuts keeping us all on the run, you can get a coffee just about anywhere and ice coffee – for the coffee lovers out there—is refreshing, and addicting, especially on a day like today.

For caterers or restaurant owners, ice coffee is an easy way to change up your coffee service during warmer weather.  You need three things – ground coffee, water and a French Press. You also need refrigeration, but since you’re having a cold drink, I think that goes without saying. If you do a little research, you’ll find that there are several pages dedicated to recipes and how to’s, you’ll also see dedicated cold brew coffee makers, yet the French Press Coffee Maker has been around for a very long time and it’s really the only coffee maker you’ll need to make perfect ice coffee. And, you don’t need coffee filters with a French Press, or a separate coffee carafe or coffee server, since your press will act as both brewer and server.

The process is easy. Just place your coffee grounds in the maker, add about a quarter to 1/3 of the water you’ll need and then stir the water and coffee around so that the grounds get saturated, finish filling your carafe to below the spout (similar to using hot water), add the cover with the plunger up and let it sit for 12 hours, or overnight, at room temperature. After the steeping has occurred, you simply press the plunger to separate the grounds from your coffee concentrate. Chill or serve immediately over ice with water or cream to dilute to the desired strength.  

The ratio seems to be the biggest question, yet from what I see, it looks like 1/4 to 1/3 lb of coffee for 4 cups of water. Remember that you will be making a coffee concentrate and then diluting with ice, water and/or creamer for the desired strength.  

Imagine an afternoon event, where servers deliver a smaller sized French Press to each table with ice coffee concentrate along with creamer and sugar water in dispensers to the table rather than the traditional coffee service? It takes a little more time, but not much effort for an innovative and refreshing change. For those late afternoon affairs, you might want to add in ice cubes laced with Kahlua or other flavors that blend well with coffee.