How to Make Good Iced Coffee at Home

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…