You’ve probably replaced your childhood summer afternoon ice cream snack with iced coffee and the welcome respite from the office.
And lucky for modern caffeine lovers, coffee has come a long way in America over the past decade or so. A new breed of coffee connoisseurs pay the same close attention to their drink of choice as lovers of wine and beer. These experts are trained in the complexities of bean origin, type of roast and flavor notes and everything else coffee.
In search of ways to make the most of summer’s beloved iced coffee and other signature flavors, we consulted one such expert: Allie Caran, the director of coffee education for Brooklyn-based Partners Coffee Roasters. Caran shared her recommendations for different roasts of iced coffee to best enjoy with our favorite summer foods.
1. Apple Pie
Some light roasts carry notes of dried apple, so, Caran says, they’re natural pairs for your classic July Fourth dessert. “Summer is full of fireworks and pie,” she exclaims. “Lots of pie! A light-roast coffee with hints of dried apple works magically as a pairing with warm apple pie.” Don’t forget the vanilla ice cream.
Never thought of pairing your smoked meat with a medium-roast cold brew? Caran says you’re missing out. “Our Ghost Town decaf coffee, with notes of golden raisins and white chocolate, pairs well with smoky flavors while also keeping a delicate profile that won’t overtake your patented barbeque recipe,” Caran says
Some coffee fans love a nutty, mellow medium-roast. Caran recommends they pair their brew with the quintessential Mexican street food, grilled corn, or Elotes. “The salty, tangy and spicy flavors of elotes are balanced and tempered by a roast that’s not too sweet and has the earthy flavors perfect for a more savory dish,” she says.
4. Fresh Peach Cobbler
For summer, Caran loves a light roast with hints of stone fruit and citrus. She finds it especially “delicious when combined with flaky butter pastry and the baked peaches in the cobble.”
5. Ice Cream Float
The Italians have a dessert called an affogato: a scoop of vanilla gelato with warm espresso poured over it. We Americans have the ice cream float, and when it involves a medium-roast chocolatey cold brew it becomes, according to Caran, “the ultimate coffee-and-ice-cream treat. Prepare to have all your ice cream float dreams come true.”
Caran is a big believer in combining cold brew with camping, especially when you throw in s’mores, the hallmark dessert of a summer outdoor adventure. “Who doesn’t love s’mores around a campfire? Rich, smooth medium-roast cold brew is perfect with the toasted, sweet combo of chocolate, marshmallow and graham cracker,” she says.
7. Watermelon, Feta and Mint Salad
This summer classic embodies light, seasonal snacking and doesn’t require an oven, stove or even toaster. Caran recommends pairing it with a medium roast with fruity and green citrus notes as it will go beautifully with the sweetness of the watermelon. “The mint lifts the whole dish, lending a bright herbaceous dimension to create a refreshing summer snack,” she says.