How to Make Good Iced Coffee at Home

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Icy, refreshing cold brewed coffee.

Summer is right around the corner, and that means one thing for us coffee-drinkers: Iced coffee season. While I do enjoy cuddling up with a hot mug of coffee in the winter, nothing is as refreshing or satisfying to me on a warm day than a good cup of iced coffee. In fact, I love it so much that I actually drink it all year long. The cost of a simple iced coffee is pretty inexpensive, but when added up over a longer period of time, starts to take a toll on my wallet. So last summer, I sought out to find a cheaper way to enjoy my iced coffee and not feel guilty about it.

As many people may quickly notice, making iced coffee at home is not an easy one-step process. Add ice cubes to hot coffee and you’ll have yourself a cup of lukewarm, watery coffee… gross. After looking around the internet a bit, I’ve discovered three methods of making a really good cup of iced coffee at home. They require more time, but are simple enough that anybody can do them and the results are pretty damn satisfying.

Method 1: Refrigerated extra-strength coffee
This is the method my roommates and I would often use. To prevent your coffee from getting watery, follow this two step process:

  • What you’ll need: A coffee maker, ground coffee, water, and a refrigerator.

1. Instead of brewing coffee the way you normally do, brew it about 1 and a half times stronger.  I first tried brewing the coffee double-strength, but I found that to be too strong. I made this little table to make the conversions quick and easy:

How many cups of coffee you want                                          How many tablespoons of ground coffee to use
2                                                                                                               3
3                                                                                                              4.5
4                                                                                                               6
5                                                                                                              7.5
6                                                                                                                9

And so on and so forth.

2. After your coffee has brewed and cooled down a bit, pour it into a spill-proof container and stick it in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. Having coffee that’s already cold will prevent ice cubes from watering it down. Add ice cubes and fix as you normally would.

Method 2: Cold Brewed Coffee
Adapted from NY Times. This method involves soaking ground coffee in water overnight and filtering it the next day.

  • What you’ll need: 2 large containers or jars that hold at least 4 cups (1 quart mason jars are perfect for this), 3 cups of water, 2/3 cup ground coffee, a funnel, a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth.   *A removable or disposable coffee filter would work as well.

Your supplies

1.  Into your jar/large container, pour water and ground coffee. Stir well and cover.

2. Let the coffee sit out overnight or for about 12 hours, shaking or stirring a couple of times if possible.

It will look muddy and unappetizing at first, but don’t worry – you’ll be filtering all the solids out later.

3. To filter, first pour the coffee through the fine mesh sieve into second jar to get rid of the large grinds. To get rid of smaller grinds, line a small funnel with a cheesecloth (or paper towel if cheesecloth is not available) and pour coffee through back into a first jar.  *Make sure to do this step over a sink, as it can get messy if you’re not careful

I forgot to use the funnel, but I really recommend it – I spilled coffee literally all over my kitchen. Oops.

4. Serve in a glass with ice cubes and fix as you like it.

Add some ice cubes, cream, and sugar…

… Stir and enjoy :)

Method 3: Coffee ice cubes

This method is exactly what it sounds like. Take room temperature or refrigerated coffee and pour into an ice cube tray. Freeze for a few hours or overnight and serve with coffee that’s been cooled, using methods 1 or 2 above.  The Hazel Bloom has a great post on this.

After trying each of these methods, I would have to say that the cold brewed coffee is definitely my favorite. It takes the most time and effort, but the results are worth it. Cold brewed coffee is less acidic than hot brewed coffee, so it has a more mellow taste but still with all the wonderful coffee flavor. I really recommend this method. Check out YouTube for further instruction and even more methods.

A few extra tips:

  • If you’re looking for extra flavor in your coffee, try using flavored coffee or flavored cream. There are a wide selection of flavored coffee creamers available at most grocery stores nowadays; you can find anything from French vanilla to caramel macchiato to peppermint patty, and they’re surprisingly not too bad for you when used in moderation.
    — Another trick I like to use is to add a sprinkle of cinnamon to the coffee grounds before you brew them. This gives you the subtle flavor of cinnamon without the powdery mess in your cup.
  • For a more intense coffee flavor, try buying whole bean coffee and grinding it yourself. Some stores have coffee grinders you can use right in the store, or you can buy your own for less than $20. It only takes a few extra seconds and gives you a much more complex flavor.
  • Try a French Press coffee maker! I admit I don’t own a French Press and have never used one, but I hear it’s the way to go if you’re a true coffee fanatic. Learn more about them here. I think I now know what my next purchase will be…

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24 responses »

    • Thank you! Sorry to take so long to respond, WordPress for some reason marked your comment as spam so I’ll have to beware of that in the future!

  1. I was very happy to find the cold brew method – perfect taste for iced coffee. Thanks for reducing the portions for me – the 2 gallon method was a bit much for me!

    • I agree, 2 gallons would be a bit much and may also taste stale by the end of it. I actually doubled the original recipe and found it to be the perfect amount. Hope you enjoy :)

  2. What a fabulous tutorial! It’s funny, because I cook every day and I’ve gotten to the point where I rarely royally screw up a recipe, but I always manage to botch my iced coffee! It’s either too bitter, too sweet, or too milky! I’m using your method next time :)

    • Thank you, I’m glad you like it! Coffee can be tough because most of us like it a very specific way – I know I do anyway. Let me know how it turns out for you :)

  3. Great post! If you have a French Press, you can just make the cold brew coffee in that and let it stand overnight – this way, you don’t have to strain it. This is what I usually do every day during the summer!

    • Thank you! I don’t currently own a French Press, but I am definitely considering buying one. Always looking for ways to make my coffee better :) Thanks for sharing!

  4. I love good home brewed coffee…but you might think me crazy but for me the best iced coffee is made with instant coffee. The reason is that you can make it pretty strong. I happen to use decaffeinated. I make it very strong whip it up with a spoon add ice and then I use International Coffee’s Hazelnut for flavor. I drink my regular coffee unsweetened but this is very slightly sweetened with a hazelnut back flavor. Try it you may be surprised.

    • That sounds interesting! The only time I’ve used instant coffee is in baking cookies or brownies, but I’ll have to give this a try some time. :)

  5. hannah – thanks for the iced coffee tutorial….i use the french press, cold brewed method. i wanted to let you know that there is an ice cube tray out there that freezes the coffee into a coffee bean shape, they are wonderful!

    • I think I’ve seen those, they would be perfect to freeze coffee in! I’ve also been meaning to buy a French Press but I haven’t gotten around to it. I’m curious to try one out!

  6. Pingback: Vanilla Coffee Protein Shake « Hungry Hannah

    • I usually use a combination of different types. Here I used Godiva Hazelnut ground coffee and also whole bean Simply Enjoy Vanilla and Cinnamon Hazelnut, which can be found at Stop and Shop grocery stores.. Any type will work!

  7. Howdy! Do you know if they make any plugins to help with SEO?

    I’m trying to get my blog to rank for some targeted keywords but I’m not seeing very good success.

    If you know of any please share. Thank you!

    • I’m not really sure, to tell you the truth. I’ve read articles about SEO (I know WordPress has one), but I’m unsure about any plugins. I hope you find what you’re looking for!

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