Although the aura might not indicate it, the arrival of summer (!) inevitably equals one thing – the plastic cup period. With iced coffee being on top of the drinking-out-in-town agenda for a great lot of people, leading coffee retailers go head over heels to come up with a new hit on the Frappé market. But before we establish, what are the nations’ favourite iced coffee options, let’s see when this cool fashion actually started.
The idea of a coffee served cold is said to be born as early as the 17th century, in Vienna, after an unsuccessful siege by the Turks, who were to leave huge supplies of coffee beans behind them. It is not clear, however, how and why would the Viennese attempt to try this revitalising brew in a chilled version.
We know more about the iced varietal development in 19th century France, where it gained some indecent connotations – the mazagran, cold coffee with seltzer water and rum – was drunk in casinos and parks not necessarily by the bourgeois class.
But the iced coffee as we know it could not actually be born before the establishment of ice-cube production, at the beginning of the 20th century. In the 1930s the market experienced a boom in the form of granizado – today available everywhere in Spain as a coffee muddled with crushed ice – in other words – a caffeinated alternative to a lemon slushy.
Many variations of the original option have been developed across the years and countries, starting with Italy, the Mecca of espresso, indulging their favourite essence over a scoop of ice cream as a Caffè Affogato, moving to such experimental extremes as Chilean Café helado including Chantilly cream, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, chocolate, dulce de leche and ground nuts.
The modern ideologies of individualism, and more importantly, capitalism, led to the creation of today’s coffee-retail giants and their establishment as icons of this generation; their pursuit of domination over the chilled-beverage world was as predictable as the fact that in the end, they would all follow the same pattern. And so, after Starbucks Coffee Company bought over The Coffee Connection chain in1994, they obtained the rights to the Frappucino trademark, which quickly became one of the most recognisable features of the coffee giant, and one of the biggest money-turning ventures in the company probably since the introduction of an automated coffee machine.
Of course, it was a matter of time for the other chains, Costa Coffee and Caffè Nero being obvious examples, to enrol their own “exclusive” blended drinks, that, rather uninspiringly, share a minor variation of the name Frappé. Nothing wrong with that really, if you know your French.
And although this summertime plastic cups will be more widely available, used and cherished than sunshine in the UK, their content will be very much more varied, because, as I find out, Frappés are not the only iced coffees that the British public is craving.
Charlotte, model – Iced Americano: “It is nice and light and still tastes like coffee!”
Nothing simpler really; in Italy they actually call it “coffee on the rocks” – Caffè in ghiaccio – a freshly brewed espresso poured over ice-cubes in a whisky glass. Classy.
Beata, barista – Hazlenut Americano: “Still tastes of coffee, and the hazelnut kills the bitter taste of the espresso!”
Personalisation has never been simpler. With a variety of syrups and milks to choose from in almost every coffee shop, you could have a different Iced Americano every day of the week.
Laura, Spanish language teacher – Espresso blended with ice: I found out about this from my Greek friend; it’s really nice, and you can make it a bit different by adding some milk to it if you want.
Indeed, Frappé was a hit during the Athens Summer Olympics 2004; stirring the coffee in an electric mixer produces foam on top, which makes for a bit more thrilling drink than an Iced Americano.
Marta, amateur chef – Nescafe Frappe: I used to drink these back at home in Poland years ago and I always liked them. They’re so easy to make, and are very refreshing too!
The legend goes that the Greek Frappé was invented by a Nestlé representative at the International Trade Fair in Thessaloniki 1957, who could not find any hot water for his instant Nescafé so he shook it with cold water and ice instead. After that the company is said to have enrolled their Nescafé Frappé sachets. India has adjusted it by blending it with cold milk and vanilla to produce a coffee-flavoured smoothie
Magda, student – Iced Caramel Macchiatto: Definitely my favourite. It’s sweet, just the way I like it. I also think that caramel and coffee go very well together.
One of Starbucks’s signature drinks gone cold – vanilla syrup on the bottom, caramel drizzle on top of the ice-cubes. Also Australia likes to top their iced coffees with a sweet treat: whipped cream or ice cream, often adding syrup or chocolate powder to the mix also.
Tom, American Football coach – Berry Hibiscus Refresha: I don’t really like iced coffee, but Starbucks’s new drink is actually growing on me
The Green Siren’s shout of the season are the two new fruity options: both Berry Hibiscus and Cool Lime Refreshas include a green-coffee extract, which puts them high up in the competition, making them both low in calories and caffeine, whilst still delivering on the taste.
Of course, this is not an extensive list, and with the variety of cold coffees on offer – virtually equalling the number of their hot counterparts – you’re bound to find your favourite. You just have to know what to look for.