George Howell wasn’t sure how to make iced coffee work for his esteemed chain of coffee roasters and cafés. The way he sees it, iced coffee is vastly better than cold brew (and he’s not alone), but making it is a pain — you either have to pour hot coffee over ice and dilute the coffee with melting water, or wait for a blast chiller to bring a batch of hot coffee down to 40 or so degrees (which could take 45 minutes to an hour).
Then Howell found the Coldwave.
The $40 pitcher, readily available on Amazon, comes with a plastic insert fitted with an array of white tubes filled with water. Freeze the insert (takes about 8 to 10 hours, usually), pour fresh hot coffee into the pitcher and drop the insert into the coffee. A minute and a half later, you have iced coffee.
Despite Howell’s misgivings, you can use this device just as easily for cold brew. Most cold brew recipes explicitly insist on keeping the mixture at room temperature while brewing so as to not hinder extraction. This means cold brew is room temperature upon finishing the half-day brew cycle. If you don’t like pouring it over ice and creating an inexact dilution, you can chill it in a Coldwave before diluting.
Howell explains that the consumer Coldwave isn’t an elegant fix to his cafés’ commercial problem, and it certainly isn’t the end-all, be-all solution; after one, 16-ounce chill — about three good-sized cups — the insert must be rinsed off and re-frozen. But he thinks it’s just fine for iced coffee at home.
“It’s the best gadget for this I’ve found so far,” Howell says. “It’s dead simple and … it does the job faster and cleaner than anything else I’ve used recently.”
For home brewing during the warmer months, it still isn’t as easy as batch-brewing cold brew and keeping it in the fridge for a week. But it does allow you to brew your regular pot of hot coffee and chill it without adding much to your morning routine.
“This levels the playing field for iced coffee,” Howell says.
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