How to Make the BEST Iced Coffee!

Iced coffee is a refreshing and invigorating beverage that’s perfect for warm weather or whenever you need a cool pick-me-up. While there are many ways to prepare iced coffee, the best methods ensure a rich, flavorful drink that’s not watered down. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to make the best iced coffee, whether you use espresso, brewed coffee, or purchased cold brew. We’ll also cover making coffee ice cubes and crafting simple syrup for sweetening.

Choosing Your Coffee Base

Coffee vs espresso.
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There are several ways to begin. You can use brewed drip coffee, espresso, even cold brew. Let’s explore.

Espresso-Based Iced Coffee

Brewing espresso. Brewing espresso.
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Espresso is a concentrated coffee that provides a strong and robust flavor, making it an excellent choice for iced coffee. Here’s how to prepare it:

Brew the Espresso

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Use an espresso machine to pull a double shot (about 2 ounces) of espresso. If you don’t have an espresso machine, a stovetop moka pot is a great alternative for making strong coffee similar to espresso.

Cool the Espresso

espresso. espresso.
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Allow the espresso to cool slightly before using it to avoid melting the ice too quickly and diluting your coffee.

Brewed Coffee-Based Iced Coffee

Drip coffee.Drip coffee.
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Brewed coffee can also make a delicious, iced coffee if done correctly. You want to start with a strongly flavored cup.

Brew Strong Coffee

Drip coffee. Drip coffee.
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Make a pot of coffee using your preferred brewing method (drip, French press, etc.). Use a higher coffee-to-water ratio than usual to ensure a strong brew.

Cool the Brewed Coffee

Iced coffee.Iced coffee.
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Once brewed, let the coffee cool to room temperature. For faster cooling, you can place it in the refrigerator.

Cold Brew Coffee

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Cold brew is made by steeping coffee grounds in cold water for an extended period, usually 12-24 hours. It results in a brew that’s perfect for iced coffee.

Is Cold Brew Less Acidic? NO!

blonde woman with glasses looking shocked. Surprised.blonde woman with glasses looking shocked. Surprised.
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You might have heard that cold brew coffee is less acidic and therefore easier on the stomach. Indeed, this has been a marketing message that is repeated frequently – and is widely accepted as true. I personally did not have this experience and found it curious; I had begun to do research when I met Hilary.

Coffee scientist to the rescue! Hilary Hursh shared recent research from within the coffee industry and it turns out that while hot coffee contains more antioxidants (which I also found curious), both cold and hot coffee have similar acidity levels. This runs counter to the ubiquitous marketing claims one sees, but it is also important to note that those originated with manufacturers of cold brew beverages and brewing equipment.

Look To Darker Roast Beans For Lower Acidity

OK. Agree.OK. Agree.
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Another fact is that darker roast beans have a lower acidity level in general – again, something that surprised us.

One thing to note is that even the researchers suggest not to make any blanket assumptions as their research “focused on brews that differ from normal brewing practices in homes and cafes.”

Use The Coffee YOU Like!

Types of coffee beans.Types of coffee beans.
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So, what this all means is that you can make your iced coffee with any cooled brewed coffee that you like, made from hot or cold brewing techniques. If you want less acidity, use a darker roast bean.

Make or Buy?

Buying cold brew. Buying cold brew.
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You can make or purchase cold brew. Here are instructions for making your own:

Make Cold Brew

Iced coffee floats.Iced coffee floats.
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Combine coarsely ground coffee with cold water in a large jar or pitcher at a ratio of about 1 cup of coffee grounds to 4 cups of water. Stir, cover, and let it steep in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours.

Strain the Coffee

Thumbs up.Thumbs up.
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After steeping, strain the coffee through a fine-mesh sieve or coffee filter to remove the grounds.

Making Coffee Ice Cubes

coffee ice cubes. coffee ice cubes.
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One of the main issues with iced coffee is that the ice cubes can dilute the drink as they melt. The solution? Coffee ice cubes!

  • Brew Coffee: Use any method to brew a strong batch of coffee.
  • Cool and Pour: Let the coffee cool to room temperature, then pour it into an ice cube tray.
  • Freeze: Place the tray in the freezer until the coffee cubes are solid.

Using coffee ice cubes ensures that as they melt, your drink remains flavorful and robust.

Sweetening Your Iced Coffee with Simple Syrup

spoon spooning sugar.spoon spooning sugar.
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Sweetening iced coffee with regular sugar can be challenging because it doesn’t dissolve well in cold liquids. Simple syrup is the answer:

Make Simple Syrup

Simple Syrup in clear glass pitcher on blue ceramic dishSimple Syrup in clear glass pitcher on blue ceramic dish

Combine equal parts water and sugar in a saucepan. Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. Allow it to cool before using. You can also infuse the syrup with flavors like vanilla, or mint by adding these ingredients while the syrup is heating.

Store the Syrup

Refrigerator. Refrigerator.
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Pour the cooled syrup into a jar or bottle and keep it in the refrigerator. Using simple syrup allows you to sweeten your iced coffee without worrying about undissolved sugar settling at the bottom of your glass. Works for iced tea, too!

Assembling the Perfect Iced Coffee

Iced coffee.Iced coffee.
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Now that you have your coffee base, coffee ice cubes, and simple syrup ready, it’s time to put it all together:

Fill a Glass with Coffee Ice Cubes

iced coffee with coffee ice cubes. iced coffee with coffee ice cubes.
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Start by filling your glass with the coffee ice cubes. This keeps your drink cold without diluting it as the ice melts.

Add Your Coffee Base

Pour coffee over ice. Pour coffee over ice.
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Pour your cooled espresso, brewed coffee, or cold brew over the ice cubes.

Sweeten to Taste

Iced coffee. Iced coffee.
Image credit VasiliyBudarin via Shutterstock.-2

Add simple syrup to your coffee, stirring well to combine. Start with a small amount and adjust to your preferred sweetness level.

Add Milk or Cream (Optional)

Iced coffee in glasses.Iced coffee in glasses.
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If you like your iced coffee creamy, add a splash of milk, cream, or a non-dairy alternative. For a richer drink, try using half-and-half or sweetened condensed milk.

If you are looking for lower lactose options, there are plenty! Our favorite is heavy cream, for a dairy choice, and Unsweetened Nutpods for a non-dairy alternative.

Flavor Variations and Add-Ins

Iced coffee. Caramel. Iced coffee. Caramel.
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One of the joys of iced coffee is how customizable it is. Here are some variations and add-ins to try:

  • Vanilla Iced Coffee: Add a splash of vanilla extract or use vanilla-flavored simple syrup.
  • Mocha Iced Coffee: Mix in a tablespoon of chocolate ganache or cocoa for a chocolaty twist.
  • Caramel Iced Coffee: Drizzle caramel sauce over the ice cubes before adding the coffee.
  • Spiced Iced Coffee: Add a pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg to your coffee for a warm, spiced flavor.

Is There An Ice Cream Float In Your Future?

Iced coffee float. Iced coffee float.
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Top your iced coffee with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a decadent treat. Go lactose-free, if desired.

Tips for the Best Iced Coffee

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  • Use Fresh Coffee: Always use freshly brewed coffee for the best flavor. Coffee that’s been sitting out for too long can become stale and bitter.
  • Chill Your Coffee: Let your coffee cool to room temperature before refrigerating it to avoid condensation that can dilute your drink.
  • Experiment with Ratios: Adjust the coffee-to-water ratio and the amount of simple syrup to find your perfect balance of strength and sweetness.
  • Keep It Cold: Store your coffee and simple syrup in the refrigerator so they’re always ready for a quick and refreshing iced coffee.

The Takeaway

Iced coffee. Iced coffee.
Image VasiliyBudarin via Shutterstock.

Making the best iced coffee is all about using quality ingredients and taking a few extra steps to ensure your drink is as flavorful and refreshing as possible. Whether you prefer the strong punch of espresso, the smoothness of cold brew, or the convenience of brewed coffee, there’s a method that will suit your taste. With coffee ice cubes and simple syrup on hand, you can enjoy a perfectly balanced iced coffee anytime. Experiment with different flavors and add-ins to create your signature iced coffee that’s just right for you. Cheers to making and enjoying the best iced coffee!

Starbucks & Dunkin’ Donuts: Have IBS? What Should You Order?

No Bloat Options at Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts – Graphic Credit: FODMAP Everyday

What are your IBS-friendly, low FODMAP choices at Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts? We’ve got the answers! When you are running around town and want to grab a hot or cold beverage from these popular stores, there are certainly some items that will be more suitable for your IBS than others. Read our article Low FODMAP Choices At Starbucks & Dunkin’ Donuts.

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