Iced coffee is one of those treats you can’t resist, particularly when it gets really hot out. It gives you a nice sense of refreshment with the added benefit of caffeine!
All the major coffee chains sell iced coffee in different varieties, but there’s a catch. These drinks tend to be super expensive and some coffee shops only sell them during the summer. And if we’re being honest, coffee shop iced coffee sometimes tastes pretty awful. They make it super bitter and watery, so we’re going to learn how to do it ourselves!
Below, you’ll see not one but two ways to make delicious iced coffee at home. The first method is more traditional and classic while the second takes a bit longer but arguably leads to a better flavour. It’s up to you which one you try – I recommend giving both a go before deciding which one you prefer.
Method 1: Traditional Iced Coffee
The first method is the quickest of the two and can be done within around 5-10 minutes (depending on how fast you work).
Effectively, all you need to do is make coffee and then pour it over ice. You can choose to add milk if you like, or have it black. It’s incredibly simple, yet there are some key rules to follow and a few mistakes some people make.
So, let’s go through the steps in more detail:
Step 1: Brew the coffee
Already, this is where you can make your first mistake. Instant coffee is highly convenient when you need a jolt of caffeine without worrying about cleaning machines or waiting for things to brew. However, as mentioned in my previous guide to improving your coffee at home, you want to stick with whole beans or ground coffee for the best flavour. This will ensure your iced coffee still tastes like coffee and the taste doesn’t get watered down too much by all of the ice.
You can choose one of two brewing methods:
- An espresso machine – Something like the Sage Barista Express is great here as it’s a bean-to-cup coffee maker. This means you pour the beans into the top, press a button and it grinds them down while brewing the coffee at the same time. If you want to save money, opt for an espresso machine that doesn’t take whole beans and then use freshly ground coffee instead.
- A ‘press’ machine – I’ve put this in inverted commas because I’m referring to two types of machines that work in similar ways but are slightly different. There’s a classic French Press or the more innovative Aeropress. Both use a plunger method to press down and force your coffee through filter paper, but the Aeropress is supposedly better at extracting flavour and is quicker. If you already have a French Press, then that’s fine – it’ll still brew tasty coffee.
When brewing your coffee, decide if you want a milky iced coffee or a black one. If you want a milky one, brew a single or double espresso shot. For a black iced coffee, you should brew a longer drink. This is easy to do wither either pressing machine as you fill them with more water. If you’re using an espresso machine, most will come with a function that lets you manually choose when the brewing stops. Use this to brew a full cup of black coffee.
Step 2: Put your coffee in the fridge/freezer
This step is sort of optional as you don’t need to go through with it every time. But, if you have some spare moments to hand and aren’t in a rush, it helps keep your coffee colder for longer.
Ideally, you put the cup of coffee in the freezer while you clean up. If you can’t fit yours in the freezer, then put it in the back of your fridge. From here, go and clean up whatever machine you used to make the coffee and it should help your drink cool down slightly.
It’s not an “essential” step because you can skip ahead and pour the coffee straight from the machine over the ice. You will just need a bit more ice and it’ll likely start melting a bit faster.
Step 3: Fill a glass with ice
Get a glass of your choice and fill it with plenty of ice cubes. You don’t want to use crushed ice here as it melts so quickly and ruins the taste of your coffee. Cubes will last much longer and help maintain a good level of coldness for you to enjoy.
How much ice should you use?
To be honest, it depends on the size of your glass and how much coffee you’re pouring in. The obvious answer is to add enough to keep your drink ice cold. Start with a handful of ice cubes and you can always add more after.
As mentioned above, if you skipped the cooling step, add more ice to compensate!
Step 4: Pour your coffee over the ice
Finally, pour your coffee over the ice and top with milk if required.
Grab a straw and start sipping away at a lovely homemade iced coffee. At this stage, you can also add some flavouring syrups if you like, just be sure to mix them thoroughly.
And that’s all there is to it! This method is extremely easy and doesn’t require a huge amount of effort. If you want to spend a bit more time to get a more well-rounded flavour to your iced coffee, then try the second method instead.
Method 2: Cold Brew Coffee
You’ve probably seen cold brew coffee at your local Starbucks or Costa, but how is this different to regular iced coffee?
The secret is in the name. Cold brew coffee refers to a method where you brew the coffee in cold water. Funnily enough, a lot of people make this mistake when trying to make traditional iced coffee. You think that an iced coffee requires cold water, so you brew it in a French Press with cold water. The result is terrible because coffee and cold water do not instantly infuse well with one another.
Cold brew coffee differs because the method takes much longer. This gives the coffee more time to infuse in the cold water and creates a more concentrated brew.
Here’s a breakdown of everything you need to do:
Step 1: Get some ground coffee
This method only works with ground coffee, so you can either grind some beans yourself or buy a bag from the shop. Be sure to use coarsely ground coffee here. If it is too finely ground, there’s a risk that it won’t be filtered out during a later step.
Step 2: Pour cold water over ground coffee
The next step is pretty simple, but there’s a ratio to be aware of.
Find a jug or jar and add ground coffee and cold water to it. Most experts agree that you should be working at a 1:8 ratio of coffee to water. For example, if you’re using 50g of coffee, you need 400ml of water. This ratio helps you get the best-tasting coffee and offers the most well-rounded and balanced flavour.
When you’ve weighed everything out, pour the water over the coffee and cover the container with a lid. If you don’t have a lid, there are some great reusable stretchy lids that come in loads of different sizes that work perfectly here.
Step 3: Let your coffee brew in the fridge
This is the easiest step as you sit back and let your coffee brew. The only catch is that you should let it brew overnight from anywhere between 12-24 hours. In all honesty, 12 hours should be more than enough time for the coffee to brew and infuse into the water. You can leave it for longer to get a stronger coffee taste out of your drink.
As such, you have to plan in advance for this method. If you want iced coffee for Monday morning, start doing these first three steps on Sunday.
Step 4: Pour the cold brew through a filter
After leaving your coffee in the fridge for at least 12 hours, take it out and pour it through a filter. You can use coffee filters over another container if you like – or put it through a French Press. If you have a French Press, this is definitely the recommended method as it helps to filter out the grounds while pushing the coffee drink through.
Step 5: Serve over ice and enjoy
Finally, serve your cold brew coffee over ice and enjoy it however you like. If it’s too strong, dilute it with some extra water or add a splash of milk.
The cool thing here is that, once you’ve made a cold brew, it should last for a few days. So, you can keep pouring it out of the jug until it’s gone!
And there you have it; two methods of brewing delicious iced coffee at home. Which one do you like the best? Cold brews can taste a bit better, but they require more prep time beforehand. If you’re in a rush, the classic iced coffee method never fails. Again, try both to begin with and then stick to whichever one you prefer!