Iced coffee is a popular beverage, especially in the summertime. And with good reason! It’s a delicious cool treat favoured by coffee drinkers around the world.
Learning to perfect the art of iced coffee is an excellent first step to take on your coffee brewing journey, to elevate your at-home-barista game. It’s not quite as simple as pouring hot coffee over ice – that just leads to diluted, weak coffee water. Instead learn how to make creamy, delicious iced coffee that’s strong in both flavour and aroma, perfect for any time of the day.
I will cover how to make great iced coffee, but also how to take your iced coffees to the next level with different milks and syrups to suit every flavour palette. Presentation is also key – learn how to impress your guests with gold leaf ice cubes and drizzled chocolate iced coffees served in a cute mason jar.
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Say goodbye to watery, flavourless coffee and messy pools of melted ice, and hello to making perfect iced coffee at home with our 10 tips for making iced coffee…
1. The Japanese Method
Brewing iced coffee with cold water just doesn’t cut it if you’re wanting a strong and flavourful drink. But brewing coffee with hot water has its own problems to navigate, the most prominent being the melting of your ice cubes.
Pouring your piping hot coffee over ice results in a diluted, watery mess that’s just plain weak and unappealing. Enter the Japanese method – this method takes into account the volume of water in your ice cubes. The ice is intended to melt and dilute the coffee, which is why less piping hot coffee is used.
A key difference here is the strength of the coffee in the Japanese method. Making a super-concentrated, strong coffee to be poured over the ice cubes and then watered down by the melting ice is the way to go about it. This results in an aromatic coffee that doesn’t compromise flavour!
The ratio for the Japanese method is one-third of the liquid is ice and the other two-thirds is from making a pour-over coffee. With this in mind, here’s a ratio you can try:
- 1oz (30 g)Coffee Beans – personally like light roasts for ice coffee
- 5oz (150 g) Ice
- 13oz (350g) Hot Water at 205ºF (96ºC) – make sure you have a little extra to rinse the filter and don’t use boiling water!
Steps to make it using Hario V60 but you can use any drip coffee device like a Chemex.
- Grind the beans to filter coffee.
- Rinse the filter and jug, tip out excess water
- Add the ice to the jug and the Hario v60 on top of the jug.
- Bloom the coffee by pouring 1 oz (30 g) of hot water (205ºF/96ºC), ensuring the beans are covered and allow the coffee to sit for 30 seconds.
- Slowly add the remaining water in a circular motion around the coffee.
- Serve in a glass with ice.
Give the Japanese method a try the next time you make a batch of iced coffee, only using as many ice cubes as parts water you desire in the final cup.
2. Use Filtered Water
It’s no secret that filtered water tastes better unless you live somewhere like Scotland where the water is incredible. Choosing filtered water over tap when making a delicious iced coffee is a quick and simple way to elevate the flavor and feel of the beverage, without incurring much extra cost.
If you want to create the barista experience at home and make the best coffee you possibly can in your kitchen, using filtered water is an excellent first step to achieving a better taste and quality drink.
When creating your next batch of iced coffee, fill up your pot with fresh filtered water that’s been standing for at least 2 hours in the jug. Don’t use the water if there is still fresh water filtering through into the jug, as you’ll risk cross contaminating the unfiltered and purified water.
It’s also a good idea to make your ice cubes for the iced coffee out of filtered water, as these will melt into the drink dispersing the volume and strength of the coffee. Simply fill up your ice cube tray the night before and voila! – pure, filtered ice cubes that will add to the quality of your beverage, not detract from it.
Give filtered water a try for yourself and see how different the final taste result can be!
3. Try A Coarse Or Extra Coarse Grind For Cold Brew
Coarse grind or extra coarse grind coffee works best for cold brew coffee. Try this grind setting or try purchasing this pre-ground type for your french press, for a smoother and slightly weaker flavour of coffee, that doesn’t overpower the colder drinks.
Coarse grind should look something like sea salt, and extra coarse grind will end up looking like peppercorns. The coffee beans used for these grinds are typically larger, and very little grinding is done, resulting in bigger, chunky pieces.
When the water passes over these grinds it doesn’t immediately saturate the coffee, instead it passes through the little pieces and over the outer layer of each, slowly saturating the beans for a flavour that builds gradually. This results in a weaker flavour, which is often preferred in iced lattes, iced coffees and cold brew coffee.
Give a coarse grind a go for yourself and see how you like the flavour difference!
4. Use Fresh, Good Quality Coffee Beans
Fresh, good quality coffee beans result in a better tasting coffee. It’s that simple!
If you want to achieve the quality barista taste in your own kitchen using the best quality ingredients possible will help you elevate your drinks.
This is especially important for cold brew and iced coffee, as colder food and drink will often reveal more bitter and sour notes than the hot counterparts. Warm drinks round out flavours, as the heat mellows the taste, whereas more true flavour is exposed when the drink is served cold.
To get the best tasting iced coffee possible, always go for fresh coffee beans of a high quality. You’ll thank yourself later when enjoying the drink, as the taste and feel of the beverage will be much more sophisticated.
Choose medium, low-acid roasts over any that boast intense flavour notes like fruit or florals, as these peaks will really stand out when served cold and detract from the enjoyment of the iced coffee. Choose roasts that have more dessert based flavour notes, like vanilla, caramel or chocolate, for a smoother taste that compliments the iced coffee style.
Here is a guide to help you purchase coffee beans.
5. Add Syrups For Extra Flavour
A fun and easy way to spice up an iced coffee is with flavoured syrups. Put a decadent spin on your beverage by adding a shot of syrup, that will really stand out in the cold beverage.
Try using simple store bought syrups, like maple syrup, chocolate syrup or caramel syrup, to add a tasty twist to your iced coffee. Or create your own fun flavor as I have done with my Strawberry Syrup.
During the festive season try adding peppermint syrup, gingerbread or salted caramel to your cold brew, iced lattes or iced coffee and serve to guests as a fun treat. Serve in a mason jar for extra festive points, and decorate the glass with a candy cane.
There are a huge variety of options when it comes to syrup, and you can even make your own at home. These tasty additions are perfect for warmer weather, when you’re craving a cold yet sweet treat. There are plenty of sugar free options available also, to suit everyone’s tastes.
6. Make Coffee Ice Cube Melts – Here’s How
If you want a stronger tasting iced coffee that doesn’t feel watered down by melting ice cubes, make coffee ice cube melts!
These are super easy to make, here’s a step by step:
- Brew a fresh pot of coffee and make it concentrated (or use left-over coffee)
- Allow to cool fully, so the hot liquid doesn’t warp or melt your ice cube tray
- Pour into a plastic ice cube tray and freeze overnight
Coffee ice cubes will not only cool the drink but also add to the flavor of your iced coffee as they melt, for a win-win result.
Get creative with your coffee ice cubes and add extra ingredients, like syrup, chocolate chunks, cinnamon, drizzled chocolate or even tiny gold leaf flakes for a super fancy festive-looking drink that’s sure to impress your pals.
For even more flare, try using fun shapes ice cube trays to create exciting iced coffee art. Make heart-shaped ice cubes for valentines day, or Christmas tree shapes for the holidays. Fun shaped ice cubes are always a hit with guests if you are serving iced coffee at a gathering.
7. Try Shaking Your Espresso In A Cocktail Shaker
Shaking espresso over ice is a fantastic way to rapidly cool the coffee, before straining and pouring over fresh ice in a tall glass.
The way to perfect this is to make your shot of espresso as concentrated as possible. This way when the ice in the shaker melts a little, the diluted espresso can handle the extra bit of water, without compromising the flavor.
When the ice coffee is poured from the cocktail shaker it will be super, super cold, and shouldn’t melt the ice in the glass (at least before you’ve consumed most of it anyway!).
Make sure you use filtered water for your ice cubes, so when they get all shaken up and start to melt in the shaker they are adding pure water to the beverage as opposed to bad quality water. It’s also worth investing in a decent quality BPA-free ice cube tray, that you can use time and time again.
When you purchase a cocktail shaker for this method of making iced coffee make sure you pick one up that has a hand held strainer made to fit the mouth of the cocktail maker. There is nothing worse than trying to strain into a sieve and splashing coffee everywhere! It’s worth getting the right tools in the beginning, for a great result every time.
8. Make A Large Batch To Save Time
Making a big batch of iced coffee is a great time saver. As we all know ‘one glass is never enough’, and after we’ve made a single cup of something it’s likely we’ll fancy another that afternoon or the following day.
Batch making iced coffee is a necessity for coffee lovers during the summer months – simply store your iced coffee in a refrigerator safe container or large glass jug in your refrigerator, and pour yourself a cool cup whenever you feel like it.
Making the coffee double strength is a great option too. If you want to add the milk as you go instead of mixing it into the batch, make a large pot of double strength black coffee to keep in the fridge. This is great if you have multiple coffee fans in the household who take different amounts of milk in their iced coffee, or different types of milk.
It’s great if you like to take your iced coffee differently each time yourself too – try almond milk in the morning and chocolatey hazelnut for a creamier afternoon treat.
9. Explore Non-Dairy Milk For A Creamier Iced Coffee
Non-dairy milk options are so varied, you can never get bored! There is something for everyone’s flavour palette, from soy to oat, the options are fantastic.
Try adding a nut milk, like almond or cashew to your iced coffee for a nutty and creamy finish that adds depth to the beverage.
Coconut milk is a delicious option for iced coffee in the summer months for a creamy finish with a hint of tropical decadence.
Hazelnut milk is a super tasty option for a chocolatey, nutty iced coffee that leaves you wanting more. This milk is particularly good in iced mocha coffees, to add a nutty twist similar to the flavour of nutella. Yum!
Oat milk is ideal for a creamy, smooth drink perfect for the morning. Add a splash of oat milk to your iced coffee whilst you enjoy porridge oats for breakfast. They oaty flavour compliments coffee so well as it rounds out the bitterness and adds a subtle sweetness to the drink.
When adding plant based milk to your iced coffee make sure you go for cold milk – as cold as possible! Cool down an unopened carton in the refrigerator overnight before opening and adding to your drink, instead of taking it out of the cupboard at room temperature.
10. Try Making A Cold Brew In Your French Press
Cold brew coffee became super popular in the 2010s, as a new and trendy way to make coffee. It boasts a smoother style of coffee that’s mellow and flavourful.
Try making your iced coffee by starting with a cold brew in a French press. Fill your French press up with fresh unfiltered water over your favourite roast and leave to steep to taste or overnight for a stronger flavour.
Once your coffee is the strength you like press your French press and serve over ice. Add cold milk to taste and enjoy.
Cold brew coffee is generally stronger than freshly brewed coffee as the ratios in the cold brew are higher. If you applied the same ratios as you do your drip coffee then you will find it has the same caffeine strength.
It will be slightly less aromatic than hot coffee, as the compounds of the roast won’t be activated by heat, so keep this in mind when trying out this brewing method.
Cold brew is a great option for iced coffee as it won’t be as bitter as hot coffee. This makes it great for a sweeter iced coffee treat, with gentle flavours. Add plant-based milk and flavoured syrups to take your cold brew iced coffee to the next level.
My go cold brew recipe is:
- Coarse Ground Coffee 3 oz (85 g)
- Room Temperature or Cold Filtered Water 35 oz (1 L)
- Prefer jar or cold brew maker – I used Ovalware Airtight Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker
If you want to make less 7 oz (200 g) and 6 oz (17 g) will make roughly make a 6 oz (170 ml) cold brew.
- Grind coffee to coarse ground.
- Add water and coffee to your cold brew maker
- Wait for 12 to 18 hours will give you the perfect balance for the cold brew, over 18 hours you can start to get bitter flavors from the coffee.
I hope you feel inspired to try out these top tips for making iced coffee, and you feel confident to make the perfect tall glass of this popular drink.
Whether you give the Japanese method a go and use the melting of the ice to form the final beverage, or even if you just start using a better quality coffee bean or filtered water to elevate your beverages, we hope this article has provided some value to you.
Give flavoured syrups and plant-based milk a try and take your iced coffee experience to the next level. You’ll be the seasoned barista of your own kitchen in no time!