Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Coffee Ice Cube Craze

It seems that people all over are starting to catch on to the idea of coffee ice cubes for iced coffee.

And if you haven’t heard about them yet, I am willing to bet your mouth just dropped and you’re now saying, “How come I never thought of that!” It seems perfect, right? Now you can enjoy your iced coffee longer on a hot summer’s day. When the heat starts to melt the ice it doesn't water down your coffee, because it is coffee!

Recently, my colleague has started taking the leftover coffee at the end of the day and making his own office coffee-cubes:

It has been very funny watching people seeing brown ice-cubes in the freezer. Initially, they are grossed out, but when they realize it is frozen coffee they jump for joy at the brilliant idea.

Today, somebody on my Facebook news feed discovered the glory of coffee-cubes:

Seven likes! People are going crazy over these!

I first aome into contact with the idea of coffee-cubes in my home town in Massachusetts. My mom and I would always go to this one spot because they served their iced coffee with coffee-cubes. I loved it! Mostly because I too thought it was the coolest thing ever. And it was, for a while. Once I got over the light-dawn-on-marble-head/why-did-I-never-think-of-that feeling, I began to realize that although the coffee didn't become watered down when the ice melted, it did begin to taste terrible. Eventually, I started asking for regular iced cubes when my mom and I would go out for iced coffee because the burnt flavor they would release into the coffee made it undrinkable.

Now the question is, why doesn't the coffee taste as good when frozen coffee melts in it? I am not sure exactly, but I do have a few theories.

First, let’s play law-school for a minute and look at something I already wrote in this post:

“My colleague has started taking the leftover coffee at the end of the day and making his own office coffee-cubes.”

This is one of the reasons I bet the coffee isn't as good when the coffee-cubes melt. Coffee shops probably do the same thing we do in our office: take the left over coffee (that has been sitting on the heating pad since 8AM) and freeze it. It's economical too! Leaving coffee out and heated for that long will defiantly distort the flavor of the coffee. It gets old, which gives it the over-brewed burnt flavor. When you ask for coffee-cubes at a coffee house it's almost like saying, "May I have a medium iced coffee. Half today's brew, half yesterday's left overs?" Not so good.

A second hypothesis I have for why it tastes so bad - and I have absolutely no evidence to back this up - is that possibly the chemical composition of coffee or caffeine changes when frozen. Is this true? I have no idea. But even when you freshly brew a pot to make the cubes they still destroy the flavor of the coffee.

Now, if you come across a cafe that does have frozen coffee-cubes, get them. Because they’re fun. Unless you’re looking for the best cup of coffee in the city, then I would steer clear of the coffee-cubes.


  1. or maybe it could be due to the bitter tase coffee has when it is unsweetened, and its melting into your drink. Could I add sugar to the coffee and make sweetened coffee cubes?

    1. That first thought. You are letting strong brewed sweetened coffee melt into your probably next to perfectly sweetened drink... Of course it is going to taste yucky.

      Pour your coffee into a pitcher, lightly sweeten, then let it cool before transferring to an ice tray. This way the sugar dissolves.

  2. thats a good idea ^^^ thats what i was thinking

  3. Now I'm thinking tea iced cubes. I don't care for watered down tea from melted ice. Love this idea for iced coffee. : )

  4. Cold brewed coffee. Less tannins = less bitteness.

  5. I wonder how it would be if you used milk-cubes instead? Makes your coffee a bit more creamy instead of watery? I wouldn't like the coffee-cubes either. I think cold press coffee might work for freezing, or could be something to try anyway.

  6. Cafe Phillips ftw. Also I've started putting iced coffees/iced mochas/iced lattes in the freezer at work so that I can buy one while I'm out for lunch and then store it for the afternoon crash later. It's usually pleasantly 1/4 frozen by the time I pull it out, and in the meantime hasn't gotten watered down.



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