Even the most die-hard coffee fans among us find it difficult to enjoy hot coffee on mornings when the temperature hits eighty degrees before 9 o’clock. But we still want our caffeine on these summer days. It helps to know how to whip up a refreshing glass of iced coffee at home, rather than making a special stop at the coffee shop every day. Below, you’ll find the top tips to take your homemade iced coffee up a notch and make it barista-worthy at home.
9 Essential Iced Coffee Tips
Dark Roast Coffee Beans: Even if you prefer light roast for hot coffee, dark roast beans will give your iced coffee a richer flavor. Remember that cold temperatures mute flavors; your iced coffee will pack more punch with a darker roast.
Stronger Concentration: Iced coffee is served over ice. There are a couple ways to keep your iced coffee from getting watered down, and one essential tip is to brew it stronger. It will take trial and error to find your preferred concentration.
Try Cold Brew or Flash Brew: We wrote about these two brewing methods a few summers ago, and we still recommend them for iced coffee. Not only do they produce coffee with a stronger concentration, it will already be cold.
Use Cold (or Room-Temperature) Coffee: This constraint of making proper iced coffee means you’ll need to plan ahead. We suggest making a pot of coffee the night before; you don’t even have to refrigerate it. If you make cold brew or flash brew, your coffee will already be chilled. But all sources agree: Don’t add ice to hot coffee. Your coffee will taste much better if you let it cool gradually.
Filtered Water: Most refrigerators come equipped with a water filter, or you can use a water pitcher with a filter. Either way, filtered water improves the taste of coffee, whether you’re drinking it hot or iced.
Coffee Ice Cubes: Another way to prevent your iced coffee from getting watered down is to use ice cubes made from coffee. As they melt, they’ll add to the taste of your coffee instead of diluting it. You can also make ice cubes from milk or cream.
Simple Syrup for Sweetening: Granulated sugar dissolves easily in hot liquids, but simple syrup is the way to go when sweetening cold liquids. It’s easy to make, and you can use it in all sorts of cold drinks, including lemonade, cocktails, and mocktails. Boil a cup of water, remove it from the burner, and stir in an equal amount of sugar. Let the syrup cool, and then store it in the refrigerator.
Add Milk or Cream: While you can drink iced coffee that’s only coffee and ice, we prefer it sweet and creamy. There are lots of options for adding to your coffee: milk, half-and-half, cream, oat and nut milks, and coconut milk, just to start. But you can also stir in some sweetened condensed milk or even ice cream, and top your iced coffee with whipped cream for an extra-special treat.
Salt (Yes, Salt!): If you’re a baker, you won’t be too surprised by this suggestion. You already know how important salt can be, even in sweet creations. But in iced coffee, salt plays a different role. It helps offset any residual bitterness in your coffee. Only add a dash of salt; you don’t want to be able to taste it.
Fun Iced Coffee Recipes
Ready to give homemade iced coffee a shot? We’ve got three recipes for you to try. In each one, you can use cold brew, flash brew, or regular brew that’s been cooled down.
Vietnamese-Style Iced Coffee: This recipe from Food and Wine includes steps for making your own cold brew coffee, but you can start with already-brewed coffee too. Then combine it with a couple ounces of sweetened condensed milk, a little more whole milk, and ice. Remember to make coffee ice cubes to keep from diluting your brew. You shouldn’t need to add any more sugar if you use sweetened condensed milk, but try a splash of vanilla or almond extract if you want added flavor.
Mexican Iced Coffee: This dessert-style coffee recipe comes from Trisha Yearwood via Food Network. Chocolate syrup adds sweetness, while a dash of chile de arbol brings the heat. The recipe calls for a tablespoon of granulated sugar, but we recommend using simple syrup instead. Add a half-teaspoon of cinnamon too. Then pour some cooled coffee and almond milk over coffee ice cubes and stir. You might also make this drink in a cocktail shaker to thoroughly incorporate all the ingredients and create some froth.
Australian Iced Coffee: While the name of the recipe is Classic Iced Coffee, please note the source is Australia’s own Taste magazine. We feel confident this one is the real deal. It’s another dessert-style drink, since Australian iced coffee is known for including ice cream. This recipe calls for caster sugar (or powdered sugar), which will dissolve more readily than granulated sugar, but we would still opt for simple syrup. However, since you’ll also add scoops of ice cream, you can probably leave out the sugar altogether. Again, don’t forget the coffee ice cubes to keep your drink from getting watery.