Did you ever watch Gilmore Girls? Remember Lorelai’s desperation in the quote, “I need coffee in an IV”?
We felt that.
And if you’re anything like us, you understand the sentiment too.
Speaking as a team who needs to drink coffee first thing in the morning to even think about what to do next — summer is an especially hard time for javaphiles like us.
A hot cup of joe in the sweltering summer heat isn’t exactly a match made in heaven.
Of course, you could go out at 6 in the morning to buy an iced coffee — but it’s so much better from the comfort of home.
And honestly, when you’re in charge of your caffeine intake, you can control every little aspect of the experience.
You can control the level of coffee grind, how much sugar goes into your drink, how many ice cubes you want, along with every other variable.
...And most importantly, you can decide how you want to brew your iced coffee. With that, we give you:
How to Make Iced Coffee at Home
The two iced coffee recipes we’re going to discuss today are:
Both of these are extremely easy to make and require very little prep time.
And if you’re wondering, “Where’s cold brew in that list?”
Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about it; although it isn’t iced coffee per se. But more on that later.
So, sit back and relax — preferably with a cup of coffee in hand — and learn how to make the perfect iced coffee at home.
Brewing coffee with hot water allows you to pull out the roast’s flavors, which is not possible to achieve with cold brew. Cold-brewed coffee generally has one note or flavor. It’s much less acidic, with more 'brown' flavors (ranging between chocolate and rubber).
If you want to extract coffee’s natural flavors, including fruitiness, you have to rely on a piping hot brew.
While iced coffee made with cold water may not be as flavorful, there are certain problems inherent in brewing iced coffee with hot water, too. Adding ice to a steaming hot cup of coffee will make the ice melt fast and dilute the coffee, making it taste weak and watery.
To get around this problem, we can look to a method called Japanese-style flash-brewing. For this iced coffee preparation style, we use a quantity of hot water that accounts for the added ice. This ensures that the overall amount of water doesn’t make our coffee too weak.
By adding the hot coffee to ice that then melts, bringing the coffee to our desired final volume, we are left with a robust and aromatic iced coffee.
What You Need for This Iced Coffee Recipe:
- Ground coffee (coarse kosher salt consistency): 50 grams
- Ice: 300 grams
- Hot water (208°F/98°C): 500 grams
- A kitchen scale
- A Chemex (or another brewing device)
- Coffee filter
- Hot water kettle (preferably gooseneck)
- Optional: simple syrup, sugar, chocolate syrup
The ratio we’re targeting for this iced brew is 1 part coffee to 16 parts water. You can adjust the amount of coffee and water according to your serving size. With 50 grams of coffee to 800 grams of water, for example, you’ll yield about 2-3 servings.
- Rinse your filter lightly to get rid of the paper taste.
- Drop the ice into the Chemex then install the filter.
- Place the coffee into the filter.
- Pour 100g of 208°F water over the grounds and let it sit for 60 seconds; this allows the coffee to bloom.
- Slowly pour in the remaining 400g of hot water.
- Gently swirl the brew to dissolve any remaining ice.
- Serve the coffee over ice. Use a single large ice cube to reduce the melting rate.
You can play around with this recipe until you land on your perfect brew.
If you find the coffee too weak on your first try, then try grinding your coffee a little finer. If it turns out to be too bitter and strong, conversely grind your coffee a bit coarser next time.
Add a splash of milk and some simple syrup to make it a little sweeter. You can even decorate the glass with chocolate syrup for an Instagram-worthy snap.
The AeroPress is the best investment you’ll make when it comes to coffee equipment. If you already have one, you must try this recipe out.
When it comes to AeroPress iced coffee, people usually tend to go for the cold-water two-minute method as discussed on the brand’s website.
However, we’ve got a different recipe that’ll make your iced coffee taste more vibrant and well-rounded.
What You Need for This Iced Coffee Recipe:
- Coffee (ground finer than table salt): 17 grams
- Ice: 102 grams
- Hot water (205°F/96°C): 170 grams
- A kitchen scale
- AeroPress filter
- Optional: milk, simple syrup, chocolate syrup
We’re after a ratio of 1 part coffee to 10 parts hot water for this iced coffee recipe. So for 17 grams of coffee, we’ll need 170 grams of hot water.
- Gently rinse your filter paper with hot water.
- Insert the tip of the plunger into the AeroPress base and then place the entire system upside down. Add the coffee into the base.
- Pour 50 grams of hot water over the coffee and let it bloom for 30 seconds.
- Agitate the mixture and then pour in the rest of the hot water.
- Place the filter inside the filter cap and screw it onto the base; let it sit for 90 seconds.
- Ready your serving glass with ice in it.
- Flip the AeroPress to situate it over the glass in one smooth motion. Plunge the coffee, slowly and steadily. Stop when the AeroPress starts to hiss.
- Stir and enjoy!
If you don’t have an AeroPress, you can use these exact measurements for a French press. All you have to do is grind the coffee a bit coarser and allow it to soak for four minutes before plunging and pouring it over the ice.
You’ll be left with a coffee that’s deep and bold. Shake the mixture with the ice well to dilute it a little.
Go the Extra Mile
If you want a frothy brew, take out a mason jar or cocktail shaker (depending on your serving size).
Instead of placing the ice inside your serving glass, put it into the mason jar. Plunge the AeroPress coffee into the mason jar and then secure the lid.
You can again add milk, simple syrup, or chocolate syrup to this iced coffee recipe if you so desire.
Shake the jar vigorously until all the ice melts and the jar feels cold to the touch. This might take about 30-45 seconds. After which, the coffee should look foamy and delectable.
Take the lid off and serve it in a glass. Add a couple more ice cubes to the cup (around 100 grams) and start sipping away!
You can also prepare this iced coffee in advance, in case you have an early morning. After preparing the coffee, place the mason jar with the lid on in the refrigerator. When you want to drink your iced coffee, give it a shake for about 15 seconds to get it nice and frothy. Serve the coffee over ice and you’re good to go.
Cold Brew vs. Iced Coffee
When it comes to cold brew and iced coffee, it all boils down to your personal preference. You might think these drinks are the same. They’re both cold and they both come with ice. So, aren’t they essentially brothers?
Well, not really. They’re more like cousins.
The difference lies in their brewing methods, which changes the way they taste.
|Cold Brew||Iced Coffee|
|Coarse-ground coffee steeped in cool filtered water||Brewed double strength with hot water and poured over ice|
|Takes at least 12 hours to brew||Takes a couple of minutes to brew|
|Smooth and mellow||Volatile and aromatic|
|Carries only brown flavor notes||Can (potentially) carry all the flavor notes of the roast|
|Naturally sweet||More bitter and acidic|
While it’s true that cold brew has gained a lot of attention in recent years, many coffee fanatics believe it’s not the best way to enjoy iced coffee.
Good coffee can develop a series of volatile aromatic compounds during the roasting process. It’s thanks to these compounds that your coffee can release a nutty or smoky aroma. And to fully bring these flavors and smells out of the coffee beans and into your cup — you’ll have to use hot water.
This is a smell profile that cold water simply can’t achieve.
Having said that, you might not care about the aromatic compounds. Perhaps what draws you to cold brew is that it’s less bitter and less acidic. Plus it’s naturally sweet, so you won’t have to add sugar.
It’s also effortless to make in bulk. So if you’re in a hurry most weekdays, pre-made cold brew is perfect for an instant caffeine hit.
What You Need for This Cold Brew Recipe:
So now let’s talk about making cold brew. For this recipe, go for a coarse grind with a medium roast.
- Coffee grounds: 2 cups
- A one-gallon (16-cup) jar
- Filtered water (room temperature)
- A bowl with a strainer
- Cheesecloth (paper towels or coffee filters are fine too)
- Add two cups of coffee grounds into the jar.
- Fill the jar with filtered water.
- Stir the mixture.
- Put the lid on the jar. Make sure it’s on tight.
- Leave the jar in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours.
- Strain the cold brew (at least twice) to remove all coffee grounds.
- Discard the coffee grounds and pour the cold brew into a clean jar.
- Serve it in a mug or a cup over ice.
Additional Helpful Tips
If you don’t want the ice cubes to dilute your drink, you can make ice cubes using coffee. That way, you can serve your iced brew over coffee ice cubes!
You can also add some extra ingredients to whichever recipe you choose, to make them taste sweeter.
We’d recommend adding a spoonful of sweetened condensed milk. You can also choose a dairy-free milk substitute, like almond milk. This will dial down the bitterness of the coffee and make it more mellow.
If you add sugar to your cold coffee, it won’t dissolve — leaving you with gritty sugar granules. Instead, make a simple syrup by heating up equal parts of water and sugar. Once the sugar entirely dissolves, your syrup is ready for use.
Stir the drink a tad bit vigorously with a spoon and everything will blend nicely.
You can try out all these little variations and decide what makes the best iced coffee to your taste.
Choose the Right Coffee
When it comes to making coffee, the beans you choose are just as important as the recipe you follow. Now that you know how to make iced coffee at home, you should try out a variety of coffee types. Settle on the one that makes you go mmm.
Best of all, for every bag of coffee that you’ll buy, we’ll donate a portion of the sale to building the Nomad School in Kenya.
So the next time you’re sipping an incredible iced coffee from the comfort of home — you’ll know it’s for a good cause.