Love iced coffee? It’s no secret that iced coffee is often more expensive than hot coffee at cafés. If you still want to indulge — but can’t stomach the steep prices — make iced coffee at home.
Making iced coffee is quite a simple process: Simply brew coffee, pour it over ice and top it off with milk or cream. If you’re wondering what your favorite barista is doing to make the perfect iced coffee, it boils down to using the right method and ingredient proportions.
Ready to enjoy iced coffee at home? Here’s a beginner-friendly guide to getting started.
The first step in making iced coffee is making ice. For most people, that means filling up the ice tray unless your refrigerator has a built-in ice maker. If you’re using the tray method, be prepared to wait about four hours for the ice to form.
Determine whether you’ll make iced coffee from whole beans or ground coffee. If you’re not sure which one is better, here’s a rundown of the pros and cons of each:
Whole bean coffee: According to many coffee drinkers, whole bean coffee offers a fresh, robust flavor that ground coffee can’t replicate. While buying coffee by the bean is more expensive, beans stay fresher longer than ground coffee.
Ground coffee: Usually the more affordable option. It’s praised for its convenience, making it a popular option for busy people. Some premium ground coffee is rich in flavor and aroma, though many coffee drinkers agree it’s very hit or miss.
There are now many ways to brew coffee. According to some consumers, certain methods yield better flavor, aroma or strength than others.
Once the coffee is brewed, the next step is to pour it over ice in the glass. However, there’s quite a heated debate as to when exactly that should be.
Some people prefer pouring freshly-brewed hot coffee over ice because they feel it’s more flavorful. If aroma plays a significant role in your iced coffee experience, individuals in this school of thought also indicate that aroma dissipates if you let the coffee cool down.
Other people shy away from this method, stating that flavor is lost and diluted when hot coffee is poured over ice, causing it to melt. Instead, they recommend letting the coffee chill to at least room temperature before pouring.
If you’re wondering which way is better, we recommend trying both ways to see which one you prefer.
Once you’ve poured coffee over ice in the glass, it’s time to top it off with milk, creamer or something else. Here are a few options worth trying:
The final step in making iced coffee is stirring, which is best done with a coffee spoon or a cocktail spoon. These spoons reach the bottoms of most glasses and have slender necks that help slosh around ice and coffee for an even mixture.
Once you’ve begun stirring, you can add sweetener if desired; however, some people are satisfied with the sweetness level they experience with milk, creamer or sweeteners. Popular sweeteners include sugar, saccharin, sucralose, stevia, monk fruit sugar or coconut sugar.
With a sealed lid and a comfortable handle, this tray makes it easy to retrieve ice cubes. It’s also BPA-free.
The stainless steel construction of this coffee grinder will last for years. It grinds whole beans with ease and makes up to 12 cups of coffee.
This extra-large tumbler with a lid has double-walled insulation to keep drinks colder longer. It’s also microwave, dishwasher and freezer safe.
Sian Babish is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.