Want to learn how to make iced coffee? Perfect. I've set out to create the best resource about how to make iced coffee at home. In this post, you'll learn how to make the best iced coffee, how to make it fast, plus some great tips and recipes.
How to Make Iced Coffee: The Best Way
If you're like me, the first time you had iced coffee was at a cafe. That's probably because traditionally when we make coffee at home we make it hot. But once we have it iced we want to bring that deliciousness into our home, and share it with all our friends. That's what this post is all about.
There are a number of ways to make iced coffee at home, some of them are fast, and others – like cold brew – take more time. But, is cold brew the best way to make iced coffee? Let's talk about that.
As hot coffee cools it can take on a more acidic/bitter flavor, so the faster you can cool it the better. And when it comes to making iced coffee, all the better if it never gets hot in the first place, that's where cold brew comes in.
Is cold brew the best way to make iced coffee?
For a lot of coffee lovers, the answer is “yes” because it reduces the bitter taste that can be produced when making iced coffee from hot coffee. (And I like it because it's already cold, so it stays colder longer when it's poured over ice).
Iced Coffee vs Cold Brew Coffee
Why might cold brew be a better way to make iced coffee? Let's break it down:
- Iced coffee is brewed with hot water (that hot coffee is then cooled over ice) which means more of the oils and acidic flavors are released, this can result in a bitter taste.
- Cold brew coffee is brewed with cold water so that does not happen because the oils and acids are not as soluble in cold water. The sweet compounds in coffee are soluble in cold water so cold brewing results in a smooth/mellow flavor.
- Cold brew can also be easier on people with a sensitive stomach, and because its brewing process brings out the sweet flavors – better for people who are trying to cut down on sugar.
If you want to make your iced coffee from cold brew coffee you'll need to plan ahead because it's best to let it brew for 12 to 24 hours before you use it, otherwise you won't get the benefits of the mellow flavor.
More reading: How long does coffee last? Does coffee go bad?
How to Make Cold Brew Iced Coffee
Here's a great video that will show you how to make cold brew coffee with a mason jar.
Watch on YouTube
As you saw in the video, it's pretty easy to make cold brew iced coffee at home. All you really need is a glass jar/container with a lid (or you could cover the container with plastic wrap), coffee grounds, filtered water, around 12 to 24 hours, and ice.
Here's an easy cold brew coffee recipe to get you started. As you'll notice the cold brew method makes a concentrated coffee, so it's often diluted before drinking.
Cold Brew Iced Coffee Recipe
For this cold brew iced coffee recipe, you'll need:
- 1 quart sized Mason Jar (you can also use a french press, just make sure to cover it)
- 1 cup of medium coarse ground coffee
- 4 cups of filtered water
- 1 coffee filter or cheesecloth (if using french press you'll just use the plunger to filter)
- A glass container to store your cold brew coffee in the fridge (it's good for up to 2 weeks)
- Ice cubes (not for brewing, but making your iced coffee from the cold brew)
You'll add your ground coffee to the mason jar (or french press), pour in the filtered water and stir. Place your covered coffee mix in the fridge and let brew for 12 to 24 hours. Then strain the grounds either through a coffee filter (using a pour over machine) or through a cheesecloth into a glass container (another mason jar will do).
When you're ready to make your cold brew into iced coffee pour some of your cold brew over ice and enjoy. You can add water to dilute it, add some sugar (see the “sugar water” tip below) along with your favorite milk/cream if you like. The unused cold brew can be stored in the fridge for up to two weeks, it's best to store it without milk or cream so it doesn't spoil.
Here are a couple of great ways to brew your cold brew:
1. Mason Jar with filter
It comes with a flip cap lid which makes pouring easier and it's all dishwasher safe.
2. French Press Coffee Maker
You could also use a french press like I do. I just use the above recipe in my french press and let it brew in the fridge with plastic wrap over the top. Once it's ready I plunge the grounds and pour off the coffee, it's that easy.
This one is made with double glass which means it's strong and thermal shock resistant.
How to Make Iced Coffee: The Fast Way
Now that we've talked about making iced coffee from cold brew (the long way), let's look at some ways to make it fast – from hot coffee.
It's helpful to know that the longer coffee brews in hot water, the more bitter it can become, good strong coffee should brew quickly. Ideally, you want a fast brew, and a quick “ice” time when making iced coffee.
As mentioned above, coffee can also take on a bitter flavor the longer it sits around at room temperature. But this can depend on the type of coffee you use, and your personal taste preferences.
Call me weird but I've discovered (probably by getting distracted while writing about coffee and forgetting to drink mine while it's hot) at times I prefer the flavor of room temperature coffee over hot coffee. That may be because we use quality coffee, or just because…
So while the general rule when making iced coffee from hot coffee is to cool it down as soon as possible, you can play around with it and see what works best for you.
3 Tips for Making Iced Coffee from Hot Coffee:
1. Use thermal shock resistant glass. Some people like to allow the coffee to cool before adding ice because they are afraid of breaking their glass when pouring hot coffee over the ice. This can be avoided by using glasses/mugs designed to handle thermal shock.
Here are a couple of options:
Eparé Insulated Coffee Cups: These clear glass coffee cups are double walled and hand blown from high-quality chemistry grade borosilicate glass. They look really classy and are thermal shock resistant. The double walled design prevents condensation. It also creates a pretty neat illusion of “floating” liquid.
Eparé Insulated Glass Set: If you would prefer the look of a glass over a mug these might be perfect. They are also thermal shock resistant and double walled/hand-blown borosilicate glass. They help keep your hands at a comfortable temperature while keeping the liquid inside cold, just like the mug set.
2. Use a liquid sugar sweetener When making iced coffee from hot coffee you'll want to use a sweetener that dissolves easily in cold liquid. A simple way to do that is to mix up some “sugar water” by dissolving sugar into boiling water, just keep the ratio equal. For example 1/4 cup sugar into 1/4 cup of boiling water. Let that cool and store it in the fridge until you need it. You'll see a video with this tip at the end of the post. Want to sweeten your coffee without using sugar? Check out this post for 19 alternatives.
3. Use a medium to dark roast coffee Using a medium to dark roast will give you an iced coffee with a rich flavor. Arabica coffee beans are my favorite, and I like to look for flavor notes of chocolate, nuts, and caramel.
If you don't mind the higher caffeine content of light roast coffee this might be a perfect time to use it and enjoy all the interesting – often fruity flavor notes that come with it.
There are a lot of ways to make iced coffee from hot coffee, and one of the best (and fastest) is with an AeroPress machine.
How to make good iced coffee with an AeroPress
The AeroPress is a great way to make iced coffee because it takes less than 2 minutes to brew. The total immersion process along with the pressure filtration results in a strong smooth cup of coffee, low on bitter flavor notes – perfect for iced coffee.
In the following video, you'll see how to make good iced coffee with an AeroPress machine.
The video takes place in a cafe and they have some special equipment, but you can use an AeroPress to make iced coffee at home using just the AeroPress, coffee grounds, water, and ice.
Watch on YouTube
AeroPress Iced Coffee Recipe:
Just make coffee with your AeroPress the way you normally would. If you're just getting started with it, here's a great AeroPress Coffee Recipe from thekitchn.com but you'll need to change the last step.
The only change is to plunge your coffee over a sturdy, thermal shock resistant glass/mug full of ice. Then add your favorite milk/cream and sweeten.
If you like the sounds of making iced coffee with an AeroPress but don't have one, this AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker comes with all the accessories and extra filters. The microfilters help keep grit from the coffee grounds out of your coffee.
But maybe you just want to know how to make iced coffee without the fancy stuff. Don't worry, it's pretty easy.
How to Make Homemade Iced Coffee Easy
You can make iced coffee at home with just your pour over, french press, or drip coffee maker and ice. And if you don't even have a coffee maker you can still make it. Let's look at a few ways to brew up some iced coffee easily without the special gear.
You might be wondering if the bitterness will be a problem. If you don't add any milk, cream, or sugar to your iced coffee (and you're used to drinking cold brew iced coffee) you might notice a difference when making it in the following ways.
But most of us add some of that yummy stuff, so it's probably not going to be that big of a deal for you. If it is, try the cold brew, or AeroPress methods mentioned above.
You'll notice some repetition in the following recipes because making iced coffee from hot coffee at home is the same as making normal coffee, except you make it a little stronger and pour it over ice in a thermal shock resistant mug/glass.
I usually use 2 rounded tablespoons of coffee to every 8 ounces of water. That way if you're using normal ice cubes they won't dilute your coffee too much because it's already stronger than normal.
The only other exception (to the normal ways to make hot coffee which follow) would be the tip about adding ice to your carafe when using an electric drip machine.
So if you already know how to make coffee with an electric drip machine, a french press, a pour over, or just a pot on the stove top – skip the next section and go right to How to Make Vanilla Iced Coffee and More Icy Deliciousness.
How to make iced coffee with a drip coffee machine
It's super easy to make iced coffee at home with your drip coffee machine. Here's how:
Drip Coffee Machine Iced Coffee Recipe:
- Add ice to your carafe (this will cool your brewed coffee as soon as possible, reducing bitterness)
- Brew your coffee as usual (I like to use 2 tablespoons of grounds per 8 ounces of water) this may seem strong, but if you're not using coffee ice-cubes your coffee will be diluted by the ice so you'll want to make it a little stronger than normal
- Once your coffee is brewed pour over ice, if you had ice in the carafe it's probably cool enough at this point that you won't need to worry about thermal shock
- Add your favorite creamer/milk and sweeten
Helpful gear: The Ninja Coffee Bar has an “Over Ice” setting that measures the amount of coffee needed – accounting for the ice in your mug which makes for a more flavorful iced coffee.
It also brews the coffee differently on that setting so that the hot coffee does not all come out in one steady stream, it's released a little at a time so it doesn't melt the ice to the same extent as a traditional drip brew maker.
We received one as a review copy and I love that setting for a quick iced coffee. It's got different size options as well, so if I'm heading out the door with a travel mug, I don't need to make a whole pot – I choose that size setting and it makes just enough.
How to Make Iced Coffee with a Pour Over
I like making pour over coffee. And if you want to make some quick iced coffee, a pour over is a great way to do it.
Again the concern here is with the temperature change, so the trick is to let your water cool a little before making your coffee (that's really the best way to make pour over anyway) and using a thermal shock resistant glass/mug.
Pour Over Iced Coffee Recipe:
- Add ice to a thermal shock resistant mug or glass
- Place your pour over maker on the mug/glass add 2 rounded tablespoons of coffee grounds (per 8 ounces of water) to your filter.
- Bring your water to a boil take it off the heat and let it cool for about one minute
- Slowly pour the hot water over the grounds in a circular motion
- Add your favorite creamer/milk and sweeten.
How to Make Iced Coffee with a french press
At the beginning of this article, we talked about making cold brew in your french press and using the cold brew to make your iced coffee. You can also make iced coffee from hot coffee using a french press.
You'll want to use a thermal shock resistant glass/mug just to be safe.
French Press Iced Coffee Recipe:
- Bring your water to a boil
- In the meantime add 2 rounded tablespoons of medium-coarse ground coffee per 8 ounces of water to your french press
- Take your water off the heat and allow to cool for 1 minute
- Pour the hot water over the grounds in your french press, stir them a few times
- Let brew for 3 to 4 minutes
- Slowly press the plunger to the bottom
- Pour the coffee over the ice in your shock resistant mug/glass
- Flavor and sweeten as desired
How to Make Iced Coffee without a coffee machine
You can make iced coffee easy even if you don't have a coffee machine. All you really need is a pot, some filtered water, coffee grounds, a strainer, and ice.
As mentioned above, you'll want to be careful not to shock your ice filled cup/glass when pouring in the hot coffee. By using a thermal shock resistant mug/glass you can avoid that. The following iced coffee recipe will give you similar results as using a french press coffee machine.
Iced Coffee in a Pot Recipe
- Pour your filtered water into a stainless steel pot and bring the water to a boil (8 ounces for a single serving)
- Once your water boils remove it from the heat and allow it to cool for 1 minute
- Add two rounded tablespoons of medium to coarsely ground coffee per 8 ounces of water and stir until they are all wet
- Let the grounds brew for around 3 to 4 minutes
- Strain the grounds from the coffee using a cheesecloth or paper coffee filter
- Pour the strained coffee over ice in a thermal shock resistant mug/glass
- Add your favorite creamer/milk and sweeten
How to Make Iced Coffee with Instant Coffee
The fastest way to make iced coffee is to make it with instant coffee and it's super easy. Just like making iced coffee from cold brew, you don't have to worry about shocking the glass and you don't have to wait for the coffee to cool down.
This really is a super quick way to make iced coffee and it tastes delicious if you use the right kind of instant coffee.
For the following recipe, I use WAKA Coffee. Its got great citrus flavor notes – perfect for iced coffee. And it's made from 100% Arabica coffee beans which add to the pleasant flavor.
Instant Iced Coffee Recipe
- Dissolve one packet of Waka coffee into about 3 or 4 tablespoons of room temperature filtered water
- Stir until all coffee crystals are dissolved
- Add around 8 ounces of cold filtered water
- Stir and add desired amount of ice
- Taste and flavor with cream and sugar (best to use the liquid sugar sweetener mentioned earlier in this post)
If you didn't make liquid sugar sweetener beforehand, you can easily dissolve some sugar in a little hot water (e.g. 1 tsp sugar to 1.5 tsp hot water) and add it to the iced coffee.
Because the coffee is cold to begin with the hot water won't make a noticeable difference. This is what I do and it works great. Because WAKA coffee has citrus flavor notes I don't find it needs much sugar.
Another delicious cold treat to make with instant coffee is coffee ice cream. Check out this post for a quick/easy recipe.
How to Make Vanilla Iced Coffee and More Icy Deliciousness
Now that we've talked about how to make iced coffee at home, let's talk about bringing it up to the next level with some vanilla iced coffee.
Vanilla is a very popular flavor and all you really need to make vanilla ice coffee is to add a 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract to your iced coffee, it's that easy!
So you can choose any of the brew methods mentioned above and add your vanilla, milk/cream, sweetener of choice – and you're set. But there's another way, an even easier way…
How to make Starbucks iced vanilla coffee (the super easy way)
The following video shows how easy it is.
Watch on YouTube
How does a fun vanilla iced coffee slushy sound? Oh yeah, that sounds yummy! And it's easy just pour it in the blender and make a Frappé (you may need to add a little more ice) and don't forget to top it off with whipped cream.
Want to try even more delicious tricks with your iced coffee? I'm with you, the next video will show you 5 easy ways to fancy up your iced coffee.
5 flavorful ways to fancy up your iced coffee
Have you heard of Vietnamese coffee or Affogato? Well, you're going to see a twist on those, and a few other yummy iced coffee ideas in the following video.
Watch on YouTube
Iced Coffee and You
Did that video get your creative juices flowing? It did for me. There are just so many easy, and delicious ways to serve up iced coffee at home!
It's fun to play around and find out what your favorite is. Mine (when I have the time) is making it from cold brew, but when I'm in a hurry or get some unexpected company, I make it from instant coffee.
I hope this article is the best iced coffee guide you've ever seen, and that it helps you bring that iced coffee deliciousness into your home.
Do you have a recipe to share? I would love to hear about it, please share by commenting on this post.
- About the Author
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Dena Haines is a co-founder and blogger on EnjoyJava! – and is working to make it the best coffee blog in the world. She also blogs about travel at Storyteller.Travel and photography at Click Like This. Dena is partner at Storyteller Media, a publishing company she started with her husband, Bryan.