Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Gevalia On Ice

Lemon-ginger iced Gevalia. Recipe at end of post.

Now that the weather is warming up, I have recently taken to drinking many of my teas and other typically warm beverages chilled, over ice. In the past, I have never been crazy about serving drinks chilled when they must be prepared hot, and actively avoided the practice whenever possible. I can't really give a reason for this, though, and I have decided that it was simply a strange tenacity on my part. Luckily, I was able to get over this peculiar mental block and start icing drinks like crazy just in time to experience the pleasantries of iced Gevalia. Kraft recently sent me a sample of Gevalia House Blend, along with several recipes, tips, and ideas to enhance the experience beyond simply putting the coffee in the refrigerator.

Before I get started on the iced coffee recipes and pointers, I should address the coffee itself, first. It has been a fair amount of time since my review of Gevalia's Traditional Roast, and I have not had it recently enough (I'm more of a fan of the Colombia blend) to warrant a highly detailed comparison. But, from what I remember of the original, the House Blend is a bit darker and richer than the Traditional Roast. The House Blend is a more robust coffee overall, and I like it quite well, but if you prefer the lighter flavor of more medium roast coffees, then the Traditional Roast may be a safer option. However, in accordance with the original intention of this post, the House Blend does make for an excellent iced coffee, as the flavors do tend to mellow out a bit when the drink is chilled.

Making iced versions of traditional beverages can actually be less straightforward than it seems like it should be. Hot drinks often taste a bit different when served chilled, and it can often take some trial and error and disappointment to determine how strong to make the original brew to produce the best taste upon refrigeration. Luckily, Kraft has offered some of their tips on the process to make the first few batches go a little more smoothly. 

For optimal taste, Kraft recommends using 12 sightly rounded tablespoons of coffee for every 8 cups of water. I reduced my first batch down to 9 tablespoons coffee (12 tablespoons is quite a lot of coffee for my medium-sized coffee maker) for 6 cups of water, and it still tasted just right. Kraft suggests using darker roast coffees, such as Gevalia's House Blend, French Roast, Or Espresso Roast, and I'm inclined to agree with them. Darker roasts do typically make for better iced coffees, as the flavors typically soften a bit when served cold, so it is best to start with a coffee with a more robust flavor profile. 

Sweetening a batch of iced coffee has been a bit of an issue for me lately, as I enjoy coffee both sweetened and unsweetened, depending on my mood. It is easiest to sweeten a drink while it is still hot and the sugar will dissolve quickly, but then you are committed to drinking sweetened coffee until the next batch. Kraft was ready here with another suggestion that, for some reason, I had only ever thought to use in alcoholic cocktails: simple syrup. 

Simple syrup is, as the name suggests, quite simple to make. Just mix equal parts sugar and water (I usually use one cup of each) together in a saucepan, and heat over medium heat (stirring occasionally) until the sugar has completely dissolved. Once the syrup has cooled, it can be stored in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for up to about a week. The mixture can then be used to easily sweeten each serving of iced coffee on the spot, rather than having to sweeten the entire batch at once. Simple syrup is fast, convenient, and it requires little more than a quick stir to mix in with your beverage. The only real downside that I can think of is that, being a liquid, it does have the potential to dilute your iced coffee a tiny bit. Normally, this would not be that big of a deal, but combined with the eventual dilution from the ice in the coffee, it begins to add up. And yet again, Kraft is on the ball with another solution so simple that it makes me feel sort of silly for never having devised it myself. To avoid dilution in your iced coffee, why not just make coffee ice cubes?

But of course...

If you're anything like me, once you've made a batch or two of standard iced coffee, you may start to get a little bit tired of the stuff. So why not branch out with a couple of recipes? Kraft relayed a few to me with the sample that they sent, and I have had the opportunity to try two of them so far, but the entire list of recipes (along with the rest of the tips) can be found here.

The first recipe that I tried was Gevalia's Mint-Mocha Iced Coffee. This one is pretty straightforward: simply melt two or three Junior Mints in a cup of hot coffee, and then allow it to chill in the refrigerator before serving it over ice. The Junior Mints require constant stirring and a bit of time to melt, but they will melt...mostly. Some small particles may remain unmelted, and there will likely be a layer of chocolate sediment at the bottom of the cup after pouring the mixture off, but this is fine. The coffee will still retain the mint chocolate flavor, and it is absolutely delicious. 

Next, I gave the lemon-ginger iced coffee (pictured vaguely at the top of the post) a run. Like the previous recipe, this one is relatively simple. Just combine 1/2 teaspoon of grated ginger, 1 tablespoon of lemon zest, and 9 tablespoons of coffee in the filter basket of your coffee maker, and brew using 6 cups of water. The recipe then says to mix 1/3 cup honey into the hot coffee, but I am really not a huge fan of honey and decided to leave it out. Then, let the coffee cool in the refrigerator and serve over ice. I drank most of the pitcher unsweetened (I did add simple syrup and creamer to a couple of servings, but not very many), and I have to say that I really enjoyed it. The coffee absorbs the flavors of the lemon and ginger a lot better than I thought that it would, and the resulting beverage is an interestingly natural twist on the typical iced coffee.

Overall, I enjoyed my experience testing out Gevalia's House Blend. It's a great coffee that goes very well with ice, and I definitely recommend it as a good starting point for experimenting with iced coffee recipes this summer. As I said above, the recipes listed here are only two of several that were sent to me by Kraft, but the rest can be found on Gevalia's website. Feel free to stop by and leave your thoughts in the comments if you decide to try some of the others.

But in the meantime, just be sure to give Gevalia's iced House Blend a try. It is not likely to disappoint.

Samples provided courtesy of Kraft Foods, Inc.

To learn more about Kraft, visit their website
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To Learn more about Gevalia, visit their website
Or follow Gevalia on Twitter or Facebook

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