Four Ways to Make Perfect Iced Coffee
Say Goodbye to Watery Iced Coffee
Iced coffee is the perfect summertime drink – cool, refreshing and energizing – at least until the ice starts to melt. Want to avoid watery iced coffee? Check out these four ways to get your iced coffee game on point.
Flash Brew Iced Coffee
Flash brewing sounds exotic, but it’s really pretty simple – just brew your coffee using your favorite method, directly over ice. Because you’re brewing with hot water, you’ll get the full bouquet of flavors in the coffee bean, and because you’re drinking it right away, you don’t lose any of those flavors to staleness.
- The most important trick to perfect flash brewed iced coffee is to get the water: coffee ratio right. Remember that ice counts as water, too! The recommended ratio is 16:1 – 16 parts water to 1 part coffee, but you should use the amount of coffee you’d usually use to make a pot (or cup) of coffee.
- Brew with half the amount of water, and drip directly over ice. So, if you use a standard drip coffee maker:
- Fill the carafe with ice.
- Add your usual amount of coffee to the basket.
- Pour HALF the amount of water into the coffee tank.
Modify as needed for other drip methods.
Cold Brew for Iced Coffee
Cold brewing brings out the mellow smoothness in most coffees. Because you’re brewing with cold water, this method of making coffee doesn’t develop the more acidic notes in the coffee bean. Coffees that have chocolatey, cocoa, nutty notes really stand up well to cold brewing. Try this with a nice Bali Blue Moon or other Indonesian coffee.
- You can use a coffee maker made specifically for cold brewing, but it’s not necessary. If you do, follow the manufacturer’s directions for their coffee brewer.
- For DIY cold brew coffee, you’ll need:
- 2 large pitchers or containers
- A mesh strainer
- A filter cloth – I use flour cloth towels, but cheesecloth works
- Coarsely ground coffee
- The first trick to making perfect iced coffee with the cold brew method is to use twice as much coffee as you usually do. So if you typically use 8 scoops of coffee for a pot, you’ll want to use 16 scoops for cold brew.
- The second trick to perfect iced coffee is the grind. Because the coffee will be steeping for a looooong time, you want to use a coarser grind of coffee. If you grind your own, set the grinder to its coarsest setting. If you order coffee pre-ground, choose the coarsest option you can – usually French press. If you use canned coffee from the supermarket, regular drip grind will do, though you’ll get better cold brew from a coarser grind.
- How to Make Cold Brew for Iced Coffee
- Measure the coffee into your brewing container.
- Add water.
- Stir well to make sure all the coffee grounds are wet.
- Cover the container.
- Wait. Cold brew coffee takes lots of time – at least 8 hours and 12 is even better. It also won’t hurt to give the pot a stir once or twice during the steep.
- Line the mesh strainer with filter cloth and put it over the top of your empty pitcher.
- Slowly pour the brewed coffee through the filter to strain out the grounds and sediments.
Cold brew coffee is intensely concentrated. Most folks dilute it half and half with water or milk before drinking it. Since you’ll be drinking it over ice, which melts, try it full strength, or dilute it a little less than normal.
Cold brew coffee will keep for several days in a covered pitcher or container in your refrigerator. Some folks say up to a week – or even two – but it will taste best in the first four days or so.
Iced Coffee Cubes
The easiest way to solve the problem of melted ice diluting your coffee is to make your ice cubes with coffee instead of water. Like cold brew, it takes a little advance planning, but the difference is definitely worth it.
- Brew a pot of strong coffee.
- Pour it into ice cube trays while it’s still hot.
- Freeze it. Yes, freeze the coffee while it’s still hot.
From there, just pop the coffee ice cubes into your glass when you brew up a pot of coffee. Pour hot coffee over coffee ice cubes and enjoy. You can even add more ice if needed without diluting your coffee flavor at all.
Vietnamese Iced Coffee
If you love smooth, sweet, milky coffee, this iced coffee treat just might be your sweet spot. It does require a top hat coffee brewer – they’re beautifully affordable, make wonderful coffee, and available on Amazon if you can’t find one locally.
- To make Vietnamese iced coffee, you’ll need:
- A coffee phin (Vietnamese coffee filter)
- Finely ground coffee (espresso grind works well)
- Condensed milk
- Ice cubes
- Water just off boil
- Pour a few teaspoons of condensed milk into the bottom of your tumbler or glass
- Add ice cubes to fill the glass.
- Add a measured amount of coffee into the phin. The proportion is about 3 teaspoons of coffee for a 4 ounce phin. Use the proportions recommended by the manufacturer.
- Set the phin on the rim of the glass.
- Pour in about ½ ounce of water, as evenly as possible over the grounds.
- Let it bloom for about 30 seconds.
- Put the spreader – the top with the holes in it – on top of the coffee grounds.
- Screw the spreader down until you feel the coffee “resisting” – then unscrew it one full turn.
- Pour hot water into the phin.
- Cover the phin and wait. It will take 4-5 minutes to drip through completely.
- Remove the phin (put it on a saucer to drip!), drink and enjoy.
Bonus Iced Coffee Tips
- Use fresh ground coffee if possible.
- Water makes a difference. Use filtered water for best tasting iced coffee.
- Weigh your grounds and water instead of measuring them out. You’ll get more precise amounts.
- Use coffee iced cubes to reduce dilution.
- Chill hot coffee fast to avoid flavor loss. Try a HyperChiller or use a carafe with a freezable insert.