Chill out: How to make iced coffee

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Iced coffee, that chilled, caffeinated elixir, has evolved from a niche beverage into a global obsession. Learn how to make iced coffee at home, and you can join this trend while saving a little money. 

A hand is pouring milk into a glass of iced coffee.
Iced Coffee. Photo Credit: Yayimages.

Iced coffee is not just for hot summer days anymore, either. It’s a cold drink that coffee fans around the world enjoy year-round. 

Iced coffee or cold brew?

What’s the difference between iced coffee and cold brew? A quick overview reveals that iced coffee is brewed coffee that is chilled and then put over ice. Cold brew is coffee brewed in the refrigerator for about 24 hours. 

Iced coffee is typically a you-get-what-you-brew type of drink. What the coffee tastes like when you make it fresh is about what you will taste like when it’s iced. It’s so easy to make iced coffee at home that you’ll wonder why it took so long to start.

Cold brew is different. As it rests in the refrigerator, the coffee takes on new, deeper flavors that don’t always appear in freshly brewed coffee. 

If you like a light latte flavor, you might enjoy iced coffee. You might prefer cold brew if you’re more into intense espresso flavors. The choice is yours to make.

A group of ice cubes on a white background.
Ice cubes. Photo Credit: Yayimages.

How to make iced coffee at home

Coffee enthusiasts often appreciate the convenience of grabbing a cold beverage like a sweet cream iced coffee from their favorite cafe; however, the expenses can accumulate over time. Fortunately, iced coffee can easily be made at home. You only need a few things to get started:

  • Good quality coffee.
  • Water.
  • A vessel to cool it in.
  • Ice or a refrigerator, depending on which method you choose.

“Having a Nespresso machine at home makes iced coffee at home an easy and quick ritual. I get the quality of a café right in my kitchen, and I can customize it exactly how I like — currently, I’m all about adding oat milk and a touch of vanilla syrup.”

— Louisa Moje, Food Plus Words

Two methods to making iced coffee

There are two main methods of making iced coffee. Both make great iced coffee, but the difference is in how long it takes before you can drink it.

The quick brew method

This method makes iced coffee at home in just a few minutes. You can be drinking cold, refreshing iced coffee quickly anytime you want. To make quick brew iced coffee: 

  1. Making coffee using just half the water called for using a coffee pot, french press or any preferred method.
  2. Once it’s brewed, pour it into a heat-safe jar.
  3. Add equal the amount of ice to the jar, so if you make a cup of coffee, add a cup of ice.
  4. Once the ice is melted, you can use the resulting coffee to make iced coffee drinks at home.

The refrigerator method

This is definitely the easiest method to make iced coffee at home because it requires little work and only time in the refrigerator. Use that extra time to make some cookies to go with your iced coffee. 

  1. Make coffee using your preferred method: coffee machine, french press, pour-over etc.
  2. Once brewed, transfer it to a heat-proof jar or container.
  3. Put it in the refrigerator to cool.
  4. Once cold, use it to make iced coffee drinks at home.

“I love making iced coffee at home! It’s more convenient and economical than going to a coffee shop, and with a few pumps of vanilla or brown sugar syrup, it’s just as tasty!”

— Chenée Lewis, Chenee Today
An iced coffee with waffles on a table.
Iced Coffee. Photo Credit: Yayimages.

To make iced coffee drinks at home

Once you have made iced coffee, you can now make your own caffeinated concoctions at home. The simplest is an unsweetened iced coffee with milk. Add ice to a large glass, pour iced coffee and milk over the top and adjust the ratios to your liking.

But why stop at a plain coffee and milk drink? Here are some product ideas to get you started making fun and fancy drinks at home:

  • Large glasses.
  • Straws.
  • Various syrups in flavors you like, regular or sugar-free if you like.
  • Lots of ice.
  • Milk of your choice, either whole milk or cream or an alternative milk as needed or desired.
  • Blender if you want to try making blended coffee drinks.

A hot tip for buying coffee syrups. Look for a restaurant supply store in your area. Oftentimes, you can shop there even if you’re not a restauranteur. And they usually have a wide selection of coffee syrups because they stock all the coffee shops in your area. And if you need it, they almost always have sugar-free syrups, too. 

Once you start crafting your iced coffee in your home, you’ll discover a world of delicious possibilities. Consider jotting down your preferred recipes to ensure you can make them correctly each time, at least until you get your favorite combinations down pat. 

Customizing your creations to suit your unique tastes means you can drink iced coffees all year round for just a fraction of the cost of store-bought drinks. Try making a mind-blowing coffee cake at home to go with your drinks. Saving that money means you can keep it in the bank or spend it on things you really need. 

Two glasses of iced coffee on a pink background, showcasing the refreshingly chilled nature of the beverage.
Cold Coffee Drink. Photo Credit: Yayimages.

Ultimately, making your own iced coffee is not just about indulging your taste buds; it’s a small but rewarding act of self-sufficiency. You’ll find joy in mastering the art of coffee-making and satisfaction in every sip of your personalized brew. So go ahead, experiment, create and savor the savings. Whether you choose to invest your extra cash or treat yourself, your journey into homemade iced coffee is a delicious step towards greater independence and enjoyment.

Laura Sampson of Little House Big Alaska is on a mission to teach modern family-oriented home cooks how to make old-fashioned foods new again. She shares her passion for home cooking, backyard gardening and homesteading on her website and blog.

This article was first published on Food Drink Life.

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