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I love iced coffee. In fact, I’m obsessed with coffee in general. It’s probably why I have 10 years of barista experience and decided to start my own coffee blog!
There’s nothing quite like an iced cold coffee on a hot day. In fact, since I’ve taught myself how to make good iced coffee at home, during the summer months I drink it almost exclusively to get my daily caffeine intake. It’s a good barista skill to have in your repertoire.
But iced coffee has an interesting story, and the way we make it is different in every part of the world. So I thought I’d put my two cents in and share how to make iced coffee at home, as well as how to make it your own with some interesting recipes.
What Is Iced Coffee?
So what actually is iced coffee? How is it different from cold brew? Is it just coffee that’s been left to cool? Let’s set the record straight.
Iced coffee isn’t just cold coffee. If you left coffee in the fridge for a while after you’ve brewed it, you wouldn’t get iced coffee. As soon as coffee is brewed it begins to oxidise. It loses flavor, punchiness and can even taste a little funky.
Iced coffee, on the other hand, is brewed and used immediately. It makes use of traditional brewing methods for espresso, and then is rapidly cooled with ice.
The Japanese method calls for espresso to be poured from the machine directly over ice, cooling it in an instant after it is brewed.
However, it should not be confused with cold brew coffee, which is a different brewing method entirely.
Iced Coffee vs. Cold Brew
Iced coffee and cold brew, what’s the difference? They’re both cold, so they’re probably the same, right? Wrong. Let’s discuss why.
As I said above, iced coffee utilises traditional brewing methods, all of which use heat as a way to infuse coffee with water quickly. Heat is great at getting all the coffee oils and flavor out of your coffee beans.
But cold brew is different. Instead of using heat to extract your coffee, this method uses time. 24 hours to be precise.
The end product is a cold coffee that has a lot of the delicious intensity of regular coffee, but without any of the acidity.
Want to learn how to make cold brew? Take a look at our recipe!
History Of Iced Coffee
Iced coffee has a long and storied history. First brewed by the French during their conquest of Algeria in the 19th Century. The soldiers ran out of milk, so instead they added water to their coffee and let it chill.
Upon returning to Paris, the soldiers suggested that local cafe owners serve the cold drink to patrons, and the first commercial iced coffee was sold.
Since then, different variations of the same drink have cropped up across the globe, with some interesting regional variants. In Greece, instant coffee is shaken with milk and ice to create what they call a ‘frape’. In vietnam, strong coffee is mixed with sweet condensed milk.
Iced Coffee Today
Not too much has changed since the French were drinking iced coffee in Africa. However, the consumption of iced coffee exploded when American coffee houses began to blend their coffee with milk and ice.
This delicious mixture was dubbed the ‘frappuccino’ (frappe + cappuccino) and took the coffee market by storm. Now it’s devoured the world over!
Although you can still get your hands on an ordinary iced coffee. Most coffee houses have them on their menu. But they still haven’t quite beaten out its steaming hot cousin. Hot coffee is still, and probably always will be, the dominant cup of joe. Probably because it’s cheaper.
But don’t let your budget stop you from enjoying a delicious iced coffee on a scorching summer’s day. Put your money away and make one at home with my simple 3 step method!
How To Make Iced Coffee
- 1-2 shot(s) Espresso from cafetiere/french press, moka pot or espresso machine
- Ice to fill your glass
- 250 mls Milk, Half and Half or Single Cream or enough to top up your espresso
- Simple Syrup or Coffee Syrup optional and to taste
- Make a shot of espresso in the ordinary way you would. You can do this with an espresso machine, cafetiere/french press or moka pot. If you want a stronger kick, make a double or triple shot. Never made espresso before? Check out my guide on how to make an espresso.
- While your espresso is brewing, fill a glass with fresh ice.
- Once your espresso is brewed, pour it over the ice immediately. Some of the ice will melt, but very quickly your espresso will cool.
- Then, top up your glass with cold milk. For an extra special treat, you can use half and half or single cream. Best enjoyed immediately and with a straw. If you have a sweet tooth, try adding a coffee syrup or a few teaspoons of ordinary simple syrup. Coffee syrups come in many different flavors for you to try and enjoy in your iced coffee, as well as plenty of sugar-free options. You can use regular sugar, but be sure to add it to the espresso shot(s) and stir to dissolve prior to pouring over ice.
As the iced coffee has gone global, there are lots of variations you can try:
- Instead of using milk or half and half, you could try a vietnamese twist and use sweet condensed milk. A strong robusta blend is recommended for this, to offset the sweetness.
- If you don’t have an espresso machine, french press or moka pot, you can try using a teaspoon of instant coffee and add a few inches of freshly boiled water. In some parts of the world, instant is the norm in most households. So if this is you, know you can still have your iced coffee at home.
- If you have a blender, treat yourself to a frappuccino by pouring all your ingredients into your blender and blitzing until the ice is crushed enough so it can pass through a straw (think slushy).
- Suffer from lactose intolerance? Swap out your milk for your favorite dairy substitute. Your best choice is soya milk, as it has a better fat content when compared to most nut milks. It will hold your coffee well and give you a better mouthfeel. But you can use whatever you have or prefer.
- Also, remember that iced coffee doesn’t actually need milk at all. If milk isn’t your thing, replace the milk with cold water.
My Favorite Iced Coffee Recipes
Once upon a time, coffee was something people drank black, bitter, and hot, how times have changed! The iced coffee recipes below are some of my favorites and any coffee lover is sure to enjoy them!
Espresso Martini Recipe
Goodness, Martinis have changed in recent years! There seems to be the perfect martini for a wide range of occasions.
This espresso martini recipe is perfect for almost any great occasion. And this particular recipe serves two people.
- 7 ounces of your favorite vodka
- 1/2 ounce of Kahlua
- 1/2 ounce of espresso
- Crushed ice
- 4 coffee beans
- You’ll need a cocktail shaker to make the most of this delicious delicacy.
- Mix vodka and crushed ice in the shaker and shake well for about half a minute.
- Then add the Kahlua and espresso. Give it a quick couple of shakes to make sure the flavors fuse together nicely.
- Allow the mixture to stand for a full minute. This gives the mixture plenty of time to properly chill.
- Then strain the mix into two pre-chilled martini glasses and place two coffee beans in each glass for garnish.
This is another great “after hours” ice coffee recipe but it is a wildly popular and delicious one to try. The true coffee lover can enjoy a regular rotation of all these great concoctions for excellent mileage and in order to avoid boredom due lack of options among iced coffee recipes.
Iced Mochaccino Recipe
Chocolate and coffee… These are a few of my favorite things! This recipe combines them both. This recipe is one that can be also be enjoyed without the ice for a delicious hot coffee treat in winter as well.
- 1 Ounce of chocolate syrup
- 2 Ounces of espresso
- 5 Ounces of steamed milk
- Fill your glass with ice.
- Add steamed milk.
- Mix chocolate syrup with the espresso and pour, very slowly, down the side of the glass. If you slowly turn the glass while pouring it will add a nice visual effect.
Enjoy! This is a mix that is best suited for one and can be enjoyed at any time of the day. The versatility of the recipe, or rather the ability to enjoy it either hot or cold, makes it an outstanding recipe to enjoy year round.
Iced Amaretto Smoothie Recipe
Amaretto, Kahlua, ice cream and espresso – who could ask for more in a recipe? It doesn’t get much better than this which may be the very best of the best iced coffee recipes.
- 1/2 an ounce of Amaretto
- 1/2 an ounce of Kahlua
- 6 ounces chilled espresso
- 1 scoop of thick chocolate ice cream
- Whipped cream
- Chocolate syrup
- Combine smoothie ingredients into your blender and blend until smooth. Pour into glass.
- Top with whipped-cream and drizzle chocolate syrup over the top.
Of course this is an ice coffee recipe that’s too good to enjoy alone but it easily doubled, tripled, and even quadrupled to share with friends – or enjoy seconds.
Be warned however that this is not among the best iced coffee recipes to begin the day with. It is however an excellent afternoon “pick me up” after a long day at the office.
Want something with fewer calories to meet your needs as an espresso-lover who is also trying to be more conscious about the fat and calorie contents of these delightful drinks?
Look no further. In fact, the lighter side of this particular drink might make it the best low-fat iced coffee recipe of the week.
- 3 ounces chilled espresso
- 3/4 cups non-fat yogurt (frozen)
- 1/2 cup ice cubes
- 1.5 tablespoons Splenda
- Mix all ingredients in blender until smooth and pour into a tall glass.
It’s great to know that there are still delicious drinks such as this to enjoy even while watching your waistline and counting calories. It just goes to show that with the right iced coffee recipes there really are great drinks for everyone.
Orange Truffle Mocha
Looking for the perfect fusion of coffee, sweet, and tart flavors?
This may be the recipe for you. This recipe makes one glass and there’s no alcohol in this drink so it’s a great choice for day or nighttime enjoyment.
- 1 Ounce of juice
- 1 Tablespoon of chocolate syrup
- 1 Ounce of caramel syrup
- 1 Shot of espresso
- Add ice to a tall glass until it’s half-filled.
- Set aside milk.
- Whisk remaining ingredients together and pour over the ice.
- Add milk until the glass is filled and lightly stir.
Please also feel free to contact me with your own inventions, or share your favorite recipes in the comment section below.
Enjoying an iced coffee at home is a luxury that I just can’t deny myself. And why should I? It’s cheap and easy to make, so there’s no reason not to.
I’ll be adding many more iced coffee recipes to this page, so the next time you have a craving for something sinfully coffee-flavored check back here!
But if you’re anything like me, you won’t stop at iced coffee. Why not try your hand at all of the recipes in my brewing skills section of this blog. You can also learn how to make interesting coffees no matter your equipment.