I've been drinking cold-brew iced coffee year-round since college, and so when I travel, it is always a challenge to find a suitable substitute that is as smooth and strong as my coffee back home.
I like cold coffee. I like it because it takes less time to consume than hot coffee. Caffeination comes quickly. I use a Toddy maker at home (shown bottom right). It's basically a plastic bucket with a filter in the bottom that holds a pound of coffee grounds and 10-12 cups of water. You let it steep overnight and filter the coffee concentrate into a glass carafe that can sit in the fridge for up to two weeks. You're supposed to water down the concentrate before adding milk and/or sugar. I've been drinking it so long that I drink the concentrate watered down with just milk.
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One of my big complaints with ordering an iced coffee from anywhere besides my home (or the coffeeshops of New Orleans) is that it's often made from hot coffee that's just refrigerated. Which tastes exactly how you'd expect it too ... like stale, acidic coffee. Yesterday's brew.
A three-month stint in London--where the coffee culture in the late 1990s was basically packets of Nespresso freeze-dried crystals--forced me to learn to like *gasp* espresso over ice. In a pinch, I'll drink a few shots of this bitter brew, cut with a little skim milk. I still do this at turnpike Starbucks when necessary.
But lately, I'm finding that there are more good coffee options out there for iced-coffee lovers on the go.
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By far my favorite is Cool Brew, a cold coffee concentrate sold at grocery stores in Louisiana. The 500ml container makes 16 coffees, and if it weren't for TSA travel restrictions on liquids, I would bring back bottles and bottles. This is as good or better than most coffeeshop cold brews. (And it's available online.)
Barnies CoffeeKitchen recently released Pronto!, an individual serving concentrate that comes in seven flavors. The portable sleeves make it an easy win for road trips. The packets work out to be about a dollar a piece.
A third option is finding the local coffee chain in the region where you're traveling. Growlers of cold brew travel well in a cooler, and will get you caffeinated faster than that hot sludge they're serving at the gas station.