Let's ignore for a second that the obvious solution to the "I'm too lazy to make my own iced coffee" problem is walking to the nearest Dunkin' Donuts (there are more than 515 in New York alone, people) and ordering one. Because that's boring and everyone already does it.
Starting over: So it's summer and you're too lazy to make your own iced coffee. This is an understandable dilemma. Brewing hot coffee and icing it down leads to lackluster results. Steeping your own cold brew requires some advanced planning and fridge space you probably don't have. (Quick refresher: Cold brew coffee is as simple as it sounds—coffee that’s brewed with cold water instead of hot). It also takes longer to make. But there are positives galore: It has about 67% less acid (note the super smooth taste) so it's easier to digest. There's also the delightful little note that drinking coffee can reduce one's risk of heart failure over time if that's, you know, something you care about. In the pursuit of science, we tested a bunch of cold brew options you can order online or pick up at your local fancy grocery store. Here are our favorites (low acid, high flavor, definitely will give you wings) ...
Grady's 32 oz. New Orleans-Style Cold Brew
There are two ways you can choose to drink Grady’s: as it’s intended, by diluting the coffee concentrate with water, milk, or ice. (For the $24, 32 oz. two-fer, you're getting 16 to 20 servings of ice coffee for less than $2 each.) For a more exciting route, drink it straight, have a really productive couple of hours followed by a massive headache. Sure, it's the immediate solution and not terribly sustainable, but YOLO. Order a whole box of 'em from their website and you're ready for the next environmental disaster or quarantine to strike.
Birch 64 oz. Iced Coffee Jug
Birch’s 64-ounce jug delivery service is great for those with magical fridge space to spare. The hand-messenger service can be directed to your home, office, isolation cubicle, etc. And the stuff will last you around eight to 10 cups of coffee depending on your consumption habits—that's at least a week of not worrying about your mode of caffeination!
Blue Bottle New Orleans Iced Coffee Carton
The lactose intolerant among you, beware: Blue Bottle’s cartons come pre-mixed with milk and sweetener. A turn-off for some, but it does make the whole experience taste like you’re drinking melty coffee ice cream which is never a bad thing in my book. The bad news is you can't order these straight to your home. But if you're near a Blue Bottle retail location (Wholefoods is one), have at it!
Stumptown 10.5 oz Cold Brew Stubby
The stubby may vaguely (OK, more than vaguely) resemble a bottle of Red Stripe, but what's more summery than that? Stubbies ship directly from Brooklyn, but if you find yourself close to a brick-and-mortar Stumptown, you can get these (and larger growlers) refilled from their cold brew tap. How very eco-conscious. And hipster, very hipster.
Photos by Emily Ferber and Jenny Achiam.