How to make the perfect iced coffee at home

On a hot summers day, there is nothing quite as refreshing as a long, cold iced coffee, but you don’t have to head to the nearest coffee shop to buy one.

Making an iced coffee is perfectly possible at home, which means you can indulge in your favourite summer drink whenever you fancy it.

What are the ingredients for an iced coffee?

Luckily, one of the benefits of making a delicious iced coffee at home is that you don’t need any special ingredients.

If you already drink hot coffee, the chances are that you already have everything you need to make your own iced coffee.

At a very basic level, all you need to make iced coffee is:

  • Coffee
  • Hot water
  • Ice

However, depending on your taste and how you like your coffee, you might also need milk, sugar, syrup and coffee ice cubes. The good news is that none of this is particularly expensive or hard to find.

What equipment do I need?  

Most of the equipment required to make the best iced coffee at home are kitchen items you will already have. There shouldn’t be any need to invest in any particular equipment just to make your own iced coffee.

If you are going to use fresh coffee beans you will need a coffee grinder for this process and a coffee maker to percolate your fresh coffee as well. But if you are a coffee connoisseur the chances are, you will already own these.

If you are making your iced coffee with instant coffee then you will need a kettle to boil the water.

Beyond that, you only need a mug and spoon, and a tall glass to pour the iced coffee into for serving. An ice cube tray will also be needed.

Seven steps to make the perfect iced coffee

1.     Choose your coffee

The first step is to choose which type of coffee you want to use to make your own iced coffee at home. You need to decide how strong you want it to taste but also whether you are going to use fresh coffee or instant coffee.

Whether you opt to buy in fresh coffee beans and grind them from scratch yourself, before brewing your perfect pot of coffee to use, or you go for the quick and easy option of using a quality instant coffee, it’s entirely up to you.

To keep things simple, just go with the favourite coffee that you drink on a regular basis and see how you get on with that.

2.  Make your coffee

The next step, once you have chosen which coffee you are going to use, is to make your hot coffee as normal.

If you are using instant coffee you just need to boil the kettle and make almost your usual amount of coffee but leave space to add the cold water.

If you are brewing fresh coffee you need to decide if you are making a whole pot, or if you just want one cup that will be iced.

As a quick tip, if you are planning to add sugar to your coffee, you should do so now so that it will dissolve in the hot water. Once you have your hot coffee the next step is to cool it down.

3.   Cool your coffee down

Once you have made your coffee you need to add some cold water, to cool it down and avoid having all of the ice melt instantly.

You need to stir the coffee to make sure the cooler water mixes all the way through the drink.

4.   Transfer the coffee to a tall glass

Now that your coffee is cooler you can transfer it to the tall glass you are going to use to serve it in, without risking the glass cracking from the hot water. Once you have transferred your cooled coffee you need to add the ice.

5.   Add ice cubes

Next, take your ice cubes out of the freezer and fill the glass with ice cubes to completely cool the coffee and create that perfect iced coffee at home.

As a tip to avoid your coffee being too watered down at this stage, try making your coffee much stronger at step one, so the extra water from the ice, makes it exactly right.

6.  Add your milk

If you like your coffee milky then your iced coffee can be exactly the same and any type of milk will work well.

Just remember that totally skimmed milk is quite watery and can add to the diluted effect of the ice so it might be best to avoid skimmed for this reason.

You could also add coffee creamer, cream or half cream if you don’t want to use cold milk in your coffee.

7.  Sweeten your drink to taste

The best option for sweetening iced coffee is to add something like vanilla syrup or possibly hazelnut so that it can mix in with the cold drink and add that sweet flavour.

If you are wanting to add granulated sugar, you need to add it in at the hot water stage, otherwise it won’t dissolve in the cold drink and will just sink to the bottom.

Stir it all together and now your perfect iced coffee is ready to drink and enjoy.

Questions about making the perfect iced coffee at home

Here are a few common questions that people ask when planning to make iced coffee at home, which will hopefully guide you on your journey and help you to get your drink just right, without any mishaps.

Won’t my coffee be really watery?

We agree that adding both cold water and ice cubes to your coffee does sound like it will be very weak and watery, so our tip is to make sure the coffee you make to start with is twice as strong as you’d normally make it.

How do I get the coffee really cold?

It’s true that just adding ice to boiling hot coffee won’t give you very cold coffee, so don’t do it that way, you need to make sure the coffee is quite cool before you add the ice.

Can I use coffee ice cubes?

Yes, another great way to ensure your iced coffee is perfectly cold but not watered down, is to plan ahead and make yourself a batch of coffee ice cubes in advance.

All you need to do is brew some coffee, let it cool down, and then pour into an ice cube tray and freeze it. Or you can make a pot and just use the leftover coffee to make your ice cubes.

That way, when you come to make your ice coffee you have the perfect coffee ice cubes to make sure it’s chilled to perfection without losing any of the coffee flavour.

In this case, you’d want to make the coffee at your regular strength.

Can I just put my coffee in the freezer?

You could try putting a cup of coffee in the freezer for a few minutes, to get that really cold effect without all the fuss of adding ice.

However, you need to remember it’s in there, and not leave it too long or you will end up with a cup of frozen coffee that’s no good to anyone.

This also all depends on you having a perfect coffee mug shaped space in your freezer!

It’s also worth knowing that this actually takes longer to cool your coffee down, compared with chilling it using ice, so it doesn’t save any time.

How much caffeine is in iced coffee?

The level of caffeine will be the same as in your regular hot coffee drink. If you are looking for a version that is lower in caffeine then you can always make your iced coffee with a decaf version.

Why not just use cold water with instant coffee?

You can try but it won’t dissolve as well, and it will also take longer to dissolve, so won’t really save you any time and you might end up with undissolved granules at the bottom of your cup, making it not such a pleasant drink.

Can you make iced coffee without a coffee machine?

You can use instant coffee if you don’t have a coffee maker or you can just use a cafetiere rather than a full-on coffee maker, for a quick and easy way to make freshly brewed coffee to use for your iced coffee.

What’s the quickest way to create chilled coffee?

Some people think putting coffee in the freezer is a quicker way to cool coffee down but it actually takes longer. Adding cool water and then ice, and mixing it all together, is the best and quickest process.

Isn’t iced coffee just cold brewed?

No, iced coffee is made with regular hot coffee that is cooled down and then poured over ice. Whereas cold brew is coffee that is steeped in cold water for at least 12 hours so it’s a very different beast.

Cold brew is very strong, concentrated cold coffee that you then need to dilute with milk or water or ice to make it suitable to drink.

So the two types of coffee produce the same result – a cold tasty coffee over ice, but in very different ways. Iced coffee is much easier to make at home than cold brew, and is much quicker as well.

What can I add to my iced coffee to make it a real treat?

Now that we have got the recipe, the method and answered some of the common questions about making the perfect iced coffee at home, let’s have a look at some of the fun extra ingredients you can add in to tailor your drink just to you:

Indulgent ice cream

For a super cold float-style drink you could add a scoop of vanilla ice cream to the top of your iced coffee, or you could mix it through the drink to get that extra cool and extra sweet effect.

Delicious double cream

For a really luxurious iced coffee, with added body, why not stir in a spoonful of double cream, to really ramp up the indulgence.

Add an extract

If you want to add some extra flavour then try adding in a drop of vanilla extract or almond extract to make your homemade iced coffee just as flavoursome as anything you can get in a high street coffee shop.

Try condensed milk

For an extra sweet flavour to your iced coffee which is popular in some countries, add some condensed milk rather than regular milk. Perfect for those with a really sweet tooth.

Add maple syrup

Another tasty and sweet treat you could try in your coffee is maple syrup or any other simple syrup flavour.

Add some spice

If your taste is more spicy than sweet, then why not try adding some spices to your brew. The best way to do this is to sprinkle your spice of choice over your coffee grounds, before the brewing process.

If you are using instant coffee, then stir in the spice with the coffee powder, before you add the boiling water, so that the flavours are all mixed in together before the drink is made.

Some of the best spices you could try to bring life to an iced coffee are a little cinnamon, a sprinkle of nutmeg, or even ginger for adding that extra kick.

Make your milk frothy

If you want to make an iced latte, then froth up your milk first, before you add it to the drink, instead of just adding plain milk. That way you can enjoy your own ice-cold latte at home.

Try a citrus twist

While lemon or orange are normally associated with tea, rather than coffee, you could try adding a nice slice to your iced drink to give it a new twist of flavour. Try out different fruits and see which ones work best for you.

Mix in some herbs

Another way to add some flavour twists is to add some herbs to your freshly brewed coffee. You could try some mint leaves for a refreshing choice.

Add some alcohol

To turn your iced coffee into a party drink why not add in a shot of alcohol, for the perfect party cocktail. You could try adding rum, brandy or whiskey, or anything else that appeals.

Make it dairy-free

Iced coffee works equally well as a dairy-free option by using almond milk or oat milk instead.

Make it low carb

If you skip the milk and sweetener this is the perfect low carb drink for anyone on a diet.

Now you know how to make your own iced coffee, what next?

So now you know exactly how simple it is to make your own iced coffee and all the different things you can add to your brew to make it personal to your tastes, why not indulge yourself in some amazing coffee so that you can get started?

Our coffee hampers include a choice of fresh coffee beans and ground coffee, giving you plenty of choice when it comes to creating your own iced coffee in the comfort of your own home.

You could even pass on your new skills and buy a coffee hamper for a loved one, and show them how to make their own amazing iced coffee using all the ingredients lovingly supplied by you in the hamper.

Our hampers also include sweet and savoury treats like biscuits, cakes, and chocolates in our hampers, to ensure coffee lovers have everything they need to nibble on while enjoying their perfect beverage, so why not indulge in a decadent coffee hamper to try out your own iced coffee making skills at home.

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