I've been addicted to iced coffee since my senior year of high school. The habit began with Dunkin Donuts' iced coffee - large and black. This continued through college and into our time in Boston - yes, I know, Boston and Dunkin Donuts, a real shock to anyone who's visited or lived there.
An iced coffee, large and black, every morning on the way to work. Our apartment was 2 miles as the duck drifts on the Charles from my office, and there was not one, but two Dunkin Donuts on the route.
It turns out that DD isn't nearly entrenched in WNY as it is Boston, and we started making our own coffee more often (every day). We use course ground coffee in a french press, which makes great, strong, hot coffee (and leaves some mud behind in the bottom of the cup), and in late fall, winter and the muddy month of march, I'm mostly content to drink it in coffee's standard mode - steaming.
But then Spring. With Spring, a young man's* thoughts turn to better things...daffodils, baseball, women shedding their heavy winter outerwear, and iced coffee.
There 2 ways that we'll make iced coffee. One is pretty good and one is fantastic.
First, the one that's merely good. If you find yourself with hot coffee that you want to ice (happens often in our house), this is the quickest way I've found to do it. You need a stainless steel cocktail shaker and something wider and shorter than it - I use the flowerpot/popcorn thing in this set up:
Add the hot coffee to the shaker, fill the outer tub with cold water and keep the tap running into it (the outer tub, not your coffee). As the water is running, get a spoon and stir the coffee vigorously. If you allow me to geek-out for a moment - you're getting convection (cooler air moving through your coffee) and conduction (cold water meeting the hot coffee via the metal cup - which is great at transferring heat) both working at cooling your coffee at the same time. It takes about 30 seconds to get the coffee to room temp.
At that point, you can pour it over ice without any fear of melting and dilution of your precious brew.
Now, if you want to get serious and brew some dedicated iced coffee, the following method is the way to go. Grind your coffee, add cold water, and let it sit overnight. What? You want your coffee now? Too bad. You weren't planning ahead - you should have put it in last night and it would be ready to bring to work in a big, ugly green thermos full of ice. My recipe is adapted from one that appeared in the NY Times Dining and Wine section a summer ago - I changed it reflect our brewing strength, and not to make concentrate, but immediately drinkable coffee.
You need to plan ahead a little bit, but you'll be rewarded with something that tastes totally different than both hot coffee and hot coffee that's been cooled and iced. It's richer, more coffee-y and less bitter. The astringency that's normal in hot coffee really gets accentuated when you ice it. This coffee has none of that, and all the other flavors come flying through. If you're someone who's really into your coffee, I bet you'll find that the difference is fairly incredible. It's just really, really good.
Iced Coffee, for Iced Coffee Fanatics, and Those Who'd Like to Become One
1/2 C coffee, coarsely ground
3 3/4 C Cold water
Mix together in a large french press (or just a big jar), and let sit overnight. Mine usually ends up going for about 9 hours. Extract the coffee from the grounds, and pour over lots of ice to serve. I fill the aforementioned ugly green thermos with the coffee and lots of ice.
* Disclaimer - no longer a young man.