How to Make the BEST Iced Coffee from Home!
Iced Coffee has become incredibly popular in recent years, especially with coffee lovers that crave a more refreshing and thirst-quenching drink in the summer months. Iced coffee is a pretty self-explanatory drink, but it can actually be quite tricky to nail down the perfect formula. If you are an avid iced coffee fan looking to replicate that ideal coffee house iced brew from the comfort of your own home, you have come to the right place.
What is Iced Coffee?
Iced coffee is a variation of the more popular hot coffee which tends to be served with milk. Iced coffee tends to have a sweeter taste than regular hot coffee. This is because iced coffee is made with a blend of strong, concentrated coffee, ice, and a lot of milk, which dilutes the usual bitterness of hot coffee.
Iced coffee is typically served in a glass rather than a mug or coffee cup. This is so you can see the milk rippling through the dark coffee, which is actually quite artistic! Also, since this is a cold drink, there is no need for a heatproof ceramic mug. It is also quite nice to have a different drinking vessel for a different cup of joe!
Although iced coffee has been very popular over the past couple of decades, it is actually nothing new. People have enjoyed refreshing iced coffee for centuries! The drink was first consumed in Algeria in the 1840s, as French soldiers fought in the battle of Mazagram. They enjoyed a sweetened, chilled version of the traditional hot coffee that was all the rage in Europe at the time, and the iced coffee we know and love were born!
The BEST Iced Coffee Recipe
There are actually many different iced coffee recipes that claim to be the best on the internet… However, I believe that the recipe below offers the best blend of punchy, aromatic coffee, a smooth milky mouth feel, and a funky swirled aesthetic.
Step 1: Fill Your Glass with Ice
First things first, ice! Filling your glass with ice not only forms the basis of your iced coffee but also keeps your glass cool, preparing it for that hot coffee later in the process. An underrated key to making the best iced coffee is the actual ice you use. Of course, the coffee itself is important, but many iced coffee lovers overlook the ice cubes used and end up with watered-down espresso.
For the best results, use large ice cubes. Not only do these look better, but they also take much longer to melt than smaller ice cubes or crushed ice. After all, we aren’t creating a slush puppy here!
Your glass should be pretty full of ice. This will ensure your coffee stays both cold and strong!
Step 2: Add Cooled, Strong Espresso
Next, here comes the coffee! Remember, even though iced coffee is typically a sweeter, more refreshing drink than typical hot coffee, we still want to preserve that strong coffee taste. That’s why I recommend using a strong espresso or at least a concentrated black coffee. This will lock in that aromatic, earthy flavor that counteracts the sweetness of milk and flavored syrups that are typically added to iced coffee.
If you have finely ground coffee and access to an espresso machine, this is ideal. Single or double shot, the choice is yours. Simply dispense this into a cup and let it cool down for around 10 to 20 minutes. This is not essential, but it will help your iced coffee stay cooler for longer.
Then, pour this over your large ice cubes and you’re halfway there!
If espresso is not an option, don’t panic!
The aim here is to have a strong, concentrated coffee that will stand up to the rich flavors of milk and sweeteners. If you can get your hands on a strong, long black coffee this can also do the trick. However, bear in mind that the more coffee you add to your glass of ice, the less creamy the end product will be. If you simply want a black coffee with a dash of milk to finish it off, then using a strong, long black will actually be preferable.
If neither of these is available, you could actually use instant coffee. Simply add a few teaspoons into a mug and pour over a small amount of hot water to form a concentrated coffee.
Step 3: Add Milk in a Circular Motion
The next step is the fun part. Adding your choice of milk slowly in a circular motion around the edge of the glass will help distribute it evenly and create the rippled effect we are after. This is not essential, but it does look good!
The choice of milk is completely up to you. For a creamy, luscious drink, use whole milk. If you are lactose intolerant, milk alternatives such as almonds, oat, or soya milk can also be used.
Step 4: Add Sugar, Sweeteners, or Flavored Syrups to Taste
The cherry on top! Since iced coffee is meant to be enjoyed as a refreshing, more mellow-tasting drink, adding sugar, and sweeteners of flavored syrups is totally acceptable.
Make sure you mix it well and this will offset any bitterness that your coffee may have, especially if you are using strong espresso!
If you want to add a bit more variety to your iced coffee game, check out the 39 iced coffee drinks that every coffee lover should try!
Iced coffee is an incredibly popular variation on the regular hot cup of joe that so many people love the world over. It is a refreshing, more mellow-tasting alternative that can really hit the spot on a hot summer’s day.
However, you don’t have to venture to your nearest coffee house to enjoy this thirst-quenching beverage. The recipe above can be used from the comfort of your own home, saving you both time and money.
If you love iced coffee and want to make them from home more regularly, check out this article comparing the 11 best iced coffee makers!
Does Grind Size Matter?
If you are using espresso, then a very fine grind size would be preferable. This ensures there is as much flavor extraction as possible, which in turn keeps your coffee nice and strong.
However, if you are using a concentrated long black for your iced coffee, then using a larger grind size would be the way to go. This is because in a water solution method such as the french press or percolator, for example, a stronger brew is extracted from larger coffee grounds.
Are Iced Coffee and Cold Brew the Same?
Put simply, no. Iced coffee and cold brew coffee are often confused, but they are actually quite different.
Iced coffee is made by pouring hot coffee into ice and then adding milk and sweetening agents. Whereas, cold brew coffee is actually made by adding ground coffee to cold water from the get-go. The lack of heat in cold brew coffee means less acidic compounds are released from the ground coffee beans, which results in a smoother, more mellow taste.
Check out my article comparing frappes, iced coffee, and cold brew here!