That hot cup of coffee with breakfast -- or, that hot cup of coffee as breakfast -- is, for many of us, the highlight of our morning, the one thing that that perks us up and fuels our energy. Except when it's only 9 a.m. but already 80 degrees, as it has been for the last few days.
For times like these, then, you need a cold coffee drink to start, and maybe end, your day. Simply throwing that morning brew into a cup of ice is a tantalizing option, but not the best: doing so generally shocks the coffee and results in a harsh, bitter cup that will do nothing to help your heat-induced crankiness. Thankfully, there are plenty of great iced coffee drinks in the city that can supply your morning caffeine fix and cool you off at the same time. Here are five of our favorites.
5. The Angeleno at Intelligentsia. Essentially a spiked iced latte, Intelligentsia's Angeleno has four shots of its signature espresso shaken with ice, milk, and agave nectar. The result is a potent, frothy, sweet concoction. If their intent was to ween Los Angeles off the Frappuccino, they succeeded. 3922 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 663-6173; 1331 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, (310) 399-1233; 55 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, (626) 578-1270.
4. Iced horchata con espresso at Cafe de Leche. As with most of the coffee drinks on the menu, the horchata con espresso at Cafe de Leche is available hot or iced. While it is very good as a warm drink, it might be even better cold. All the great flavors of a horchata is combined with fantastic espresso from Stumptown Coffee Roasters, making for an intensely flavorful drink. 5000 York Blvd., Highland Park; (323) 551-6828.
3. Cà phê sữa đá at Nem Nuong Ninh Hoa. The iced coffee at this Rosemead restaurant was our top choice in our round-up of the best places to pick up a Vietnamese coffee. If you can't make it out to the San Gabriel Valley, Cafe Dulce in Little Tokyo makes a variety of iced coffee drinks, including a Vietnamese iced coffee made with LAMILL Coffee's espresso and just the right amount of condensed milk. Nem Nuong Ninh Hoa, 9016 Mission Dr., Rosemead, (626) 286-3370; Cafe Dulce, 134 Japanese Village Plaza, Bldg E, Los Angeles; (213) 346-9910.
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2. Cold-brewed iced coffee at most specialty coffee shops, including Coffee Commissary and M Cafe de Chaya. The better alternative to simply putting ice in your hot coffee is cold-brewed iced coffee. Here, coffee is either brewed directly over ice, or brewed in cool water, left to soak in the grounds for several hours, then filtered. Either method results in an iced coffee that captures the coffee's sweetness, free of its bitterness, and unmasking subtle qualities that often are hidden in the hot brew. Cold-brewed iced coffee is quite easy to make at home; for those on the run, most specialty coffee shops offer cold-brewed coffee on their menus. Of note, Coffee Commissary offers two types: one made with a blend of coffees, and the other featuring coffee from one of the single origin roasters on its roster. For those who need the caffeine fix with lunch, M Cafe de Chaya brews a blend of LAMILL beans over 18 hours using a Filtron cold-brewing system; the resulting coffee is almost syrupy smooth. Coffee Commissary, 801 Fairfax Ave., Suite 106, West Hollywood, (323) 782-1465; M Cafe de Chaya, 7119 Melrose Ave., Hollywood, (323) 525-0588.
1. Slow-dripped iced coffee at Funnel Mill, Espresso Cielo, and Portola Coffee Lab. Slow-dripped iced coffee is the ultimate version of the cold-brew. Using a contraption that looks a bit an oversized hourglass that Alice would have stumbled upon had she found herself in a Jules Verne novel and not a Lewis Carroll one, water at the top of a tall tower is gently dripped, drop by drop, onto coffee grounds in the middle of the tower, and eventually works its way through the grounds into a waiting carafe at the bottom. It's a painstakingly slow process, but many swear by the drink's superior taste: incredibly smooth, clean, and completely acid-free. If done well, this almost can taste more like a fine spirit than coffee. Funnel Mill and Espresso Cielo, both in Santa Monica, make iced coffee using this method, as does Portola Coffee Lab in Costa Mesa. Funnel Mill, 930 Broadway Suite A, Santa Monica, (310) 393-1617; Espresso Cielo, 3101 Main St., Santa Monica, (310) 314-9999; Portola Coffee Lab, 3313 Hyland Ave., Costa Mesa, (949) 284-0596.