Java on the Rocks

Iced coffee sets Dallas caffeine scene abuzz

Iced coffee sets Dallas caffeine scene abuzz

Iced coffee
Iced coffee is the new buzz drink in Dallas-Fort Worth. Photo courtesy of Cuvee Coffee
Cuvee Coffee, iced coffee
Cuvee's Black & Blue iced coffee is pulled from a keg, just like beer. Photo courtesy of Cuvee Coffee
Weekend Coffee, iced coffee
Weekend Coffee features a science-lab apparatus to brew its iced coffee, drip by drip. Photo courtesy of Weekend Coffee
Ascension coffee
Ascension is selling its cold brewed coffee in beer-like growlers. Photo courtesy of Ascension
Iced coffee
Cuvee Coffee, iced coffee
Weekend Coffee, iced coffee
Ascension coffee

The South has always been known as the land of iced tea, but there's a new cold drink in town: iced coffee. Once found primarily in the Northeast, iced coffee has become the cold drink of summer 2013 in Dallas-Fort Worth, thanks to a wave of coffeehouses offering it, many via flashy state-of-the-art technology.

Weekend Coffee uses a drip that looks like it came from a science lab. Ascension in the Design District sells it to-go in beer-like "growlers." Oddfellows in Bishop Arts and Brewed in Fort Worth pull their iced coffee from a keg, just like beer.

This new wave of iced coffee is not the milkshake-like Frappuccino of Starbucks. It is simple yet sophisticated, a foodie-type drink with a flavor so complex, it often requires only the lightest sprinkling of sugar or caress of cream.

"Cold-brewed coffee is a major trend in the "third-wave coffee" movement that Dallas is currently enjoying," says Joe Cole, owner of Weekend Coffee at the Joule Hotel in downtown Dallas. "As we've developed a higher level of taste about coffee, that has turned to iced coffee too."

In the old days, people made hot coffee and added ice, resulting in a watered-down drink. For this new round, the coffee brews in cold water, not hot, and for a longer duration of time. Because it's cold, it needs less ice and suffers less dilution.

There are two basic methods for making iced coffee:

  • Cold brewed, also known as Toddy, the name of the most popular manufacturer. Coffee grounds are submerged in cold water for an extended period of time, usually overnight. It's a fail-safe method that produces iced coffee in quantity, and it is the most common. You can find cold brewed at Mudsmith, Drip, Ascension, Garden Cafe, Avoca in Fort Worth and Pearl Cup, as well as Green Grocer on Greenville Avenue.
  • Kyoto-style. Ice water drips ever-so-slowly over coffee grounds, in an eye-catching spiral glass contraption. It brews instantly but in far smaller quantities. You can find Kyoto-style at Weekend and Ascension.

Other less-elaborate methods use espresso or coffee brewed at double-strength then poured over ice, as Starbucks does.

Cold-brewed coffee has a more mellow, concentrated, almost syrupy flavor, says Lorenzo Perkins, of Spicewood-based coffee roaster Cuvee Coffee. Cuvee has taken the trend to the next level with Black & Blue, a cold coffee it sells in a five-gallon keg.

It's not only served from a tap, but it's also infused with nitrogen, which gives it an incomparable texture and appearance.

"When we started putting the coffee in kegs and it poured out of the taps, it had no foam or bubbles, and we thought that was disappointing visually," Perkins says. "We started playing around with it and stumbled across a process to imbue actual nitrogen gas into the coffee itself.

"Now when you pour it, it cascades and has a foamy head, like a Guinness. And there's also a huge mouthfeel benefit. It makes it creamy. It tastes like there's already milk in there."

Cuvee's Black & Blue is available at Oddfellows in Bishop Arts and at Brewed in Fort Worth; it's also in Cafe Brazil in Houston. In Austin, it's at Cuvee Coffee Bar, Hopfield's and small restaurant chain Verts.

Ascension has made a big commitment to iced coffee, with three Kyoto-style machines, each featuring a different bean. Customers like it so much that owner Russell Hayward invested in a set of "growler" to-go bottles ranging from eight ounces to half-gallon jugs.

"It has a whole different flavor," Hayward says. "It's more liqueur-like and it feels super-charged. People get it instead of Red Bull. Iced coffee is blowing up."