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Food by VICE

Actually, Drinking Iced Coffee in Winter Is Normal and Good

I know it's cold outside, which is exactly why I keep drinking iced coffee.

by Bettina Makalintal
Jan 31 2019, 8:05pm

Did you know that it’s cold outside? IDK, man—despite all the headlines, and the phone notification I got this morning that said it felt like -16°F, and the ripping cold against my legs because I, a dumbass, wore a dress—I’m not quite sure I knew it was cold outside until the barista handed me my iced coffee and said, “Iced coffee? It’s so cold!”

This happened yesterday, too. It happens most mornings in the months of January and February because I am an inveterate winter iced coffee drinker. Yes, I am cold; yes, my coffee is also cold; no, you don’t have to comment on it because, trust me, someone already has.

I first caught on to the cold weather cold brew in Boston, where we flaunted our giant double-cupped Dunkin’ iced coffees as long as anti-styrofoam ordinances would allow. (It’s also where I, as a barista, realized that it was a fruitless form of small talk to point out that it was cold when a person ordered a cold brew, because the cold and the cold brew coincided so frequently.)

Now, in New York, this habit comes to the shock—and sometimes scorn—of baristas, coworkers, and people I meet in elevators and sidewalks everywhere. As the internet has shown me, people seem to do this everywhere that cold weather also exists, and across the internet, we have been called crazy, a cult, and even compared to dudes who wear shorts in the winter (way harsh).

We have been unfairly maligned. Drinking iced coffee is fine and good, actually, and the reality is that we’re being smart and strategic. The fact that it’s cold outside is exactly why you should keep drinking iced coffee in the winter.

To put it out there, I’m not convinced that a hot coffee does me any favors in terms of warmth—it’s not like a shot of whiskey. When the wind chill makes it feel like it’s below zero, a hot coffee isn’t really going to do much, or at least it won’t for any reasonable amount of time.

Drinking iced coffee in the winter might actually be better than drinking it in the summer. If you think about it, the cold weather basically just helps you maximize your coffee enjoyment.

The cold will keep it exactly the temperature it should be—the same cannot be said about hot coffee. Face it: Pour-over coffee might taste good, but it’s never piping hot. While that’s cool if you’re going to sit and drink it inside, your cold hands will leach any remaining warmth from it as soon as you take it outside. Maybe some people want to spend six dollars on lukewarm coffee, but I will personally pass. Cold weather will not change the state of your cold brew.

Typically, what I do is buy an iced coffee on my way to work, and then drink hot coffee for any extra cups per day. This is because Good Iced Coffee is extremely hard to make in a work kitchen (yes, the VICE office might seem like a place that has cold brew on tap, but alas), but passable hot coffee is basically the hallmark of office jobs.

At the office, the winter iced coffee continues to shine. This is because your office is likely fucking freezing, no matter how many emails or Slack messages you’ve sent to your poor office manager to complain. In this case, you will continue to reap the drink’s benefits.

One: Chances are, because it’s an office coffee maker, your hot coffee is already kinda shitty. It’ll become even shittier when it instantly turns lukewarm as you transport it from the coffee maker to your frigid desk. Two: In a cold office—where your ice won’t melt as fast—you don’t have to worry about your cold brew getting quickly watered down, or sweating all over your clean desk. If you get a large enough cup, you can sip and savor it for hours. Three: Sipped with a straw, iced coffee is less likely to spill on your face or clothes and cause an embarrassing workday dilemma (maybe only a problem for messy drinkers like myself).

There you have it: a solid defense of why this habit is Actually Good. We are cold, we still want our cold coffee, we exist—let us live!!!