How To Make Iced Coffee at Home
Learning how to make perfect iced coffee is one of the best gifts you’ll ever give yourself. Iced coffee is refreshing in warm weather, and it has a smoother, less acidic flavor than hot java.
With just as much possible variety as hot brews, iced coffee can be enjoyed black or dressed up for a sweet dessert.
Although it’s been around for a while, iced coffee has experienced an uptick in popularity in the last few decades. According to some reports, the iced beverage made its first appearance in Japan in the 1600s and was known as “Kyoto.” Commentators believe it was a natural progression from the popular iced tea of the time.
Whether you choose to turn that hot cup of joe into an iced delight or go straight to the heart of the matter with cold brew, you’ll be able to create these fantastic drinks in your own kitchen.
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Why Iced Coffee?
Well, the obvious answer must be because it’s wonderful, right? That’s a given, though, as people aren’t going to drink something which tastes horrible.
The iced version is less acidic than the hot version, and this has a few different impacts. Flavors come through more cleanly with the absence of acid, so you can enjoy the taste of coffee as it truly is. Another happy side effect is that for people who may have digestive issues related to hot coffee, iced coffee is often much more tolerable.
While hot java is great on any cold winter day, it may not provide that same comfort when it’s hot outside. Iced coffee is refreshing on a warm summer day, plus you don’t have to wait for it to cool off before taking a sip. You can even turn homemade iced coffee into a dessert of sorts by freezing it or adding whipped cream.
The Story of Iced Coffee
So whose idea was it to put ice in a cup of joe? There’s no way to definitely pinpoint the very first instance of iced coffee, but we do know that one style appeared out of necessity in the 1840s.
During the Battle of Mazagram, French soldiers in Algeria reportedly had no milk for their coffee and opted to use water instead. They also decided to drink it cold, since the weather was so hot. When they returned to France, they suggested that cafes serve the drink they’d dubbed cafe Mazagram.
Other countries adopted the beverage but made it their own by changing the recipe slightly. Iced java’s popularity within the US didn’t take off until Starbucks introduced its frappuccino in the 1990s. A blended, ice coffee beverage, the frappuccino introduced Americans to the idea that an iced cup of joe could be just as good as the hot stuff.
Popular Iced Coffee Drinks
As iced coffee is consumed worldwide, there are multiple variations and types. If you thought iced coffee only meant chilled black java, think again!
Basic Iced Coffee
This is how it all started. Just your basic black coffee, chilled with ice, and it’s still a very popular drink order. It’s also a great starting point for other variations.
Thai Iced Coffee
Thai iced coffee is a sweet concoction that starts with a very strong brew. Coffee can be brewed hot, or you can make cold brew coffee. Sweetened condensed milk is added, and if the beverage was brewed hot, it may be refrigerated for a couple of hours. You might also add cardamom, vanilla extract, or cream.
Part iced coffee, part milkshake, frappuccino is a trademarked drink by Starbucks. This is an iced drink that’s blended with other ingredients like cream, syrups, or fruit. In some cases, it may not even include java, but it’s a delicious blended drink that’s more like dessert.
Vietmanese Iced Coffee
Vietnamese iced coffee is similar to the Thai version but is traditionally made with beans from Vietnam and a Vietnamese drip filter. Immediately after brewing, that hot liquid is quickly poured into a cup of ice to chill it. Sweetened condensed milk may be added to cut the flavor of very strong, rich coffee.
Japanese Style Iced Coffee
Japanese-style iced coffee is brewed directly onto ice, so it chills rapidly, rather than adding ice after it’s brewed. We’ll explain more about this type of brewing in a bit. This type works particularly well with electric cold brewers or pour-over brewing. Rapidly chilling the java preserves the flavors you love in hot coffee. Plus, your beverage is ready to drink immediately.
However, it’s important to get the water to coffee ratio correct so ice doesn’t water down your beverage too much. You’ll essentially brew stronger coffee, use less water, and then dilute so it balances out with ice. Using a scale can help get the correct proportions.
Now that we’ve covered a few popular types of iced coffee, let’s discover how to make your own at home.
What You’ll Need for This Tutorial
Before you get started, gather your supplies and make sure everything you need is close by.
Cold Brewing Coffee
- Cold brew coffee machine or brewing container
- Lid for brewing container
- Coffee beans
- Kettle for pouring water
- Water, either cold or room temperature
- Filter sack, if you’re using one
- Stirring stick or spoon
Making Iced Coffee from Hot Coffee
- Pour-over coffee maker and filter
- Coffee beans
- Kettle for heating water
How To Make Cold Brew Coffee at Home
Cold brew coffee actually originated with the process of brewing cold tea in Japan. Its roots can be traced back to the 1600s, although it took quite some time for this drink to gain popularity in the US.
Cold brew doesn’t just mean iced or cold java; this type of joe is steeped for hours to develop smooth flavors. The longer it steeps, the stronger and more developed its flavor profile. Cold brew coffee has a smoother and less acidic taste than the hot brew version, plus it can also be stored for up to 14 days inside your fridge.
Many people mistakenly believe this brewing process is complicated, but it’s remarkably simple.
Step 1: A coarse grind is best for cold brew coffee. Be sure you grind those beans right before it’s time to brew, as freshly ground beans are always best.
Step 2: Choose your container for brewing, if you’re not using a cold brew coffee maker.
Step 3: A 1:8 ground coffee to water ratio is recommended, so go ahead and measure out your ground coffee and water. You can use either cold or room-temperature water.
Step 4: If you’re using a machine to make cold brew, follow the instructions for your device. If not, move on to the next step.
Step 5: Place the measured coffee in the bottom of your chosen container. Some people choose to use a filter sack for grounds, so you don’t have to filter the liquid later.
Step 6: Slowly pour the measured water over the grounds and stir gently.
Step 7: Cover your container with its lid, then set it inside the refrigerator for 12 to 18 hours.
Step 8: Once the time is up, your java is ready. If you used a filter pack, it’s ready to drink. If not, you’ll need to filter out all grounds before drinking.
Cold Brew Coffee Makers
In the event that you don’t want to try this method all on your own, there are some great cold brew coffee machines that can handle this job.
Takeya Cold Brew Coffee Maker
The Takeya Cold Brew Coffee Maker is a shatterproof all-in-one machine and can brew one quart of java. This device brews concentrated coffee that can then be diluted for hot or cold beverages. Once brewed, the beverage may be refrigerated for up to two weeks.
Toddy Cold Brew System
A different style, the Toddy Cold Brew System includes almost everything you need (except beans!) to create cold brew coffee at home. Just add your ground coffee with water, steep for 12 to 24 hours in your fridge, and then filter the concentrated liquid into the glass decanter. Add cold water or milk to the concentrated coffee to drink it cold, or add hot water if you drink your beverage hot.
OXO Good Grips Cold Brew Coffee Maker
Promising a mess-free process, the OXO Good Grips Cold Brew Coffee Maker is made from stainless steel and BPA-free plastic. It has its patented Rainmaker filter that evenly dispenses coffee into its borosilicate carafe. After steeping for 12 to 24 hours inside your refrigerator, you can start the filtration process with one push of a button. Clean-up is also a breeze.
Ovalware Cold Brew Coffee Maker
The Ovalware Cold Brew Coffee Maker is a glass device with a stainless steel filter. This simple machine is compact in size but makes one liter of java. It’s easy to use too, just add the ground coffee and then slowly pour water into the coffee maker. The filter extends completely to the bottom of the glass container, and after 12 to 24 hours of steeping in your refrigerator, just remove the filter.
Primula Cold Brew Coffee Maker
One of the most affordable models, the Primula Cold Brew Coffee Maker brews up to 52 ounces of java and comes in multiple colors. It’s made from borosilicate glass, which is stronger than regular glass. Also, it’s dishwasher safe, so clean-up isn’t a problem at all, especially since its bottom can be removed.
Asobu Cold Brew Coffee Maker
The Asobu Cold Brew Coffee Maker has a vacuum-insulated carafe that makes this device truly portable. This travel mug will hold 34 ounces of liquid, plus your beverage can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. It’s spill-proof and made from Tritan shatterproof glass and stainless steel. After steeping for 12 hours, just push a button to drain coffee through the filter.
How to Make Iced Coffee from Hot Coffee
Obviously, you can always put ice in hot java and create iced coffee. However, this method takes a little while for the liquid to cool, but the temperature of your beverage may not be even. One sip may be warm, another icy cold. Also, adding ice without altering your coffee to water ratio may result in weak java that just doesn’t taste great.
For those reasons, we recommend flash brewing with a pour-over brewer, a method used to create the Japanese iced coffee we described earlier. With flash brewing, you’re brewing directly onto ice, but you can capture all the flavors that come out with the hot liquid. Because your carafe is filled with ice, the beverage cools very quickly, before flavors become stale.
Step 1: Grind your beans. Light roasts are good for flash brewing, and a medium grind is preferred. The ratio of coffee to water should be 1:10, so you’ll need about 1 ounce of ground coffee for 10 ounces of water.
Step 2: Heat water to boiling or just shy of boiling. Remember that ice will actually replace a third to a half of the total water amount, so you won’t need as much as you do when making traditional hot coffee.
Step 1: Put five to six ounces of ice in the carafe.
Step 2: Place the filter cone atop the carafe and add ground coffee to the filter.
Step 3: Slowly pour just enough hot water to get the coffee grounds wet and let it sit for about 30 seconds.
Step 4: Continue slowly pouring hot water in a circular motion. The entire process will take two to three minutes.
Step 5: Once all liquid has stopped dripping through the filter, remove the filter, and your beverage is ready!
Iced Coffee Dos and Don’ts
The best way to make iced coffee is ultimately subjective because everyone’s tastes vary. But no matter which method you prefer, there are a few tips and tricks to help you create cracking icy joe each and every time. Here are our iced coffee dos and don’ts.
- Do use freshly ground beans. If you grind them right before brewing, they’ll have the most flavor.
- Don’t use pre-ground coffee. Okay, sometimes there might not be any choice, but if you have freshly ground beans, those are always a better choice!
- Do choose medium or dark roast beans if you’re going for a richer flavor. Lighter roasts will produce flavors that aren’t as potent.
- Don’t store beans improperly. They should always be stored in a container that is airtight and in a dark location to prevent the flavor from escaping.
- Do use filtered water for the best tasting drink. Any contaminants that might be in tap water can affect how the beverage tastes.
- Don’t just put hot coffee in your fridge and then drink it cold. Well, you can, but it won’t be nearly as delicious as it is when brewed properly.
- Do use coffee cubes to avoid diluting the flavor of your brewed beverage. Simply freeze some of the brewed beverage and use those rather than regular ice cubes.
- Don’t use regular sugar in iced coffee, as it won’t dissolve well. If you need to sweeten your java, simple sugar syrup dissolves easily but tastes the same.
Knowing how to make cold coffee at home means you can skip the line at your local cafe. You won’t even have to leave the comfort of your own home to enjoy an iced beverage.
Whether you’re making cold brew coffee, chilling the hot version, or flash brewing, you’ll love having the ability to create these delicious treats. Don’t mistake iced coffee for just adding ice to java; iced coffee that tastes great relies on specific steps and methods of brewing.
This beverage can be far more than just plain black java with ice. With a variety of drinks, such as Thai iced coffee and frappuccinos, these beverages will tempt you into a world you didn’t know existed.
If you’re the first among your friends to learn how to make cold coffee at home, share this information with them. After all, the only thing better than having coffee is having it with a friend!
How To Make Iced Coffee At Home FAQs
Can I Put Coffee in the Fridge Overnight?
Cold brew coffee can be left in your refrigerator if you haven’t added anything to it. Regular java will lose some of its flavors if it’s left in the fridge though.
Can You Just Put Ice in Coffee?
Yes, but it will likely result in a drink that tastes watery and weak. A much better option is to follow our steps for how to make cold coffee at home without machines.
Does Iced Coffee Go Bad if Not Refrigerated?
Not immediately. If you’ve added cream or milk, it shouldn’t be drunk if it’s been sitting out for more than two hours. If it’s black, it will last longer, but it’ll start losing flavor after an hour or so.
Is Iced Coffee Good for Losing Weight?
Coffee contains caffeine, which can suppress your appetite, so in that aspect, yes, it may be helpful. However, if you’re drinking coffee in an effort to lose weight, black iced coffee is the way to go. Iced coffee that contains cream, milk, or sugar won’t cut it.
Can You Make Cold Coffee From Hot Coffee?
Yes! The best way is by flash brewing, in which coffee is brewed directly onto ice. This captures all the flavors of hot coffee and immediately chills the liquid.