Regular hot coffee can be out of the question as the temperatures climb into the triple digits. Thankfully, plenty of shops around town are putting thought into their iced coffee options and serving more than just yesterday’s leftover brew. Cold-brewing is the most popular method, but there are also a few alternatives.
Here are a few of our favorite places in Austin to cool off while getting a caffeine jolt.
1010 East Cesar Chavez St.
This shop claims to be the first in town to offer nitrogenated coffee, favoring this method for storage purposes and preserving flavor. The microscopic bubbles apparently open up the palate to fully detect the coffee’s subtle nuances. Brewed with Cuvée, Cenote’s iced coffee is evocative of an acidic dark chocolate bar.
Elizabeth Street Café
1501 S First St.
This café serves almost exclusively Stumptown coffee, but the Iced Vietnamese Coffee is an exception. A metal coffee filter is filled with Café du Monde coffee grounds with chicory and placed over a glass cupping a few tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk. When the coffee is finished brewing, you stir it with a spoon and pour it into a tall glass full of crushed ice. The hot coffee partially melts the ice and perfectly dilutes the strong brew. Elizabeth Street also uses a Vietnamese trick to counter the bitterness of the chicory, adding a tiny pinch of kosher salt to the grounds. This creamy drink is best enjoyed with one of the café’s excellent French pastries.
4200 North Lamar Blvd. #120
This quality coffee shop makes a great cold brewed coffee with Cuvee’s medium roast Meritage blend, but also offers a Japanese style iced coffee that the barista described as "light, crisp, and tea like" Each day Houndstooth offers three single origin coffees, and this style is usually brewed with the lightest roast using a Clever coffee dripper. The resulting coffee has notes of citrus and just a hint of those tongue-tingling tannins typically reserved for teas. Served black over crushed ice cubes, this hot brew method extracts more aromatic compounds and solubles from the coffee than cold brewing methods.
2803 San Jacinto Blvd.
Likely catering to students pulling all-nighters, this campus area coffee shop might brew the strongest iced coffee in town. JP's uses a custom blend to brew iced coffee concentrate using the Toddy method. You can order a regular iced coffee of concentrate diluted with water or an iced mocha or latte. The best cold coffee beverage, however, is the Texas Toddy, made with coffee concentrate, water, vanilla and just a touch of sweetener.
Once Over Coffee Bar
2009 S. First St.
The barista at this South Austin shop proudly called it "the best iced coffee in town." Owner Rob Ovitt takes iced coffee seriously and has experimented with many techniques over the years, settling on a 14-hour cold brew process that yields ready-to-drink iced coffee instead of concentrate. Once Over routinely alters the blend as coffee crops change with the seasons, but it consistently produces a drink with medium acidity and notes of berries and dark chocolate.
Cuvée Coffee Bar at Salt & Time
1912 E. Seventh St.
You could easily mistake Cuvée’s Black and Blue at Salt & Time for just another beer choice, but it’s actually pure coffee. The Cuvée Coffee bar housed in this butcher shop typically closes at 3 p.m., but you can order the iced coffee anytime the bar is open because it’s on tap. Cuvée Coffee Founder, Mike McKim, describes this nitrogenated coffee as "a step beyond conventional cold brew coffee." The minuscule bubbles create an effervescent creaminess making the addition of cream unnecessary. The distinct head on the drink combined with the carbonated mouth-feel of this high-acid coffee might trick you into thinking its a good stout.
1401 Koenig Ln.; 2200 Manor Rd.
With two locations in town, Thunderbird provides a comfortable spot to get some work done while drinking iced coffee to keep you energized. The shops brew Cuvée’s Meritage blend (also used for the espresso) in a Toddy system to yield a nutty iced coffee that is just slightly bitter. The Thai iced coffee of sweetened condensed milk mixed with iced coffee and two shots of espresso is a novel alternative.