The key to smooth tasting iced coffee is to cold brew it--no hot water involved. It took me awhile to figure that out. I'd tried to make iced coffee simply by cooling my leftover morning coffee and pouring it over ice. It always tasted way too bitter. Turns out that cold-brewed coffee is 67% less acidic than when it's hot-brewed. That acid is what causes the bitter taste that is especially pronounced when it's drunk cold (source). Since figuring out how to cold-brew coffee and discovering how smooth and delicious it tastes, I now prefer to make iced coffee at home where I can control the ingredients and calories. It's a big money saver, too. (Sorry, Starbucks.)
I've had lots of request for an iced coffee recipe, and most recently my niece Melissa asked for one. So, Melissa, this one's for you--along with all my other Yummy coffee-loving friends out there!
Coffee is good for you! Within the past few years, there have been several studies that have concluded that drinking coffee in moderation can be beneficial to your health. Seriously? After all those years of feeling guilty about my morning coffee addiction, now I can feel all smug and happy about it. Coffee may help you lower the risk of some cancers, boost your brain and fight off Alzheimers, protect you against Type 2 diabetes, decrease the risk of Parkinson's, and it's high in antioxidants. Excessive coffee drinking can be harmful, especially if you have certain medical conditions. But the current science suggests that, for most people, the good outweighs the bad. All I have to say to that is, YAHOO! I love my coffee. (I may need to work on that moderation part, though.) SOURCES: Mayo Clinic, Huffington Post
In a nutshell, here's how to cold-brew coffee: Make it a day ahead by soaking ground coffee in water overnight (12 hours). Strain out the grounds, and what's left is a liquid coffee concentrate that can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 weeks. Cool, huh? To make a glass of iced coffee at any time, simply pour some of the coffee concentrate over ice, add milk and sweetener if you like, and stir. That's it! It's smooth, refreshing, and delicious without any bitterness. Who knew it could be so easy, too?
Drink it hot, too. This method isn't just for making iced coffee. It's becoming increasingly popular to cold-brew coffee, store the coffee concentrate in the fridge, and heat it for a cup of hot coffee. The low acidity and bitterness makes for a smooth, delicious cup of hot coffee.
Step-by-step photos for making Cold-Brew Iced Coffee (Don't let the volume of photos and instructions make you think this is complicated. It's very, very easy. I've included a lot of detail for clarity and to give you options. It's a breeze to cold-brew coffee. Promise.)
coffee--medium grind, whatever brand you prefer. For the best flavor, I prefer to buy beans and grind my own coffee right before it's brewed. Do it your way. Buy it already ground if that's how you roll. You'll need 1 cup of ground coffee to make 3 cups of cold-brew coffee concentrate (enough for six 8-oz iced coffees).
filtered water--I use a Brita pitcher to filter our tap water. Filtered water is used by Starbucks and other coffee brewers to achieve consistently good tasting coffee. It's not just about the coffee, the water needs to be consistent and good tasting as well. A filter pitcher is the easiest way to accomplish that. They are widely available at grocery stores, Walmart, Target, etc. (click to view Brita water pitcher on Amazon)
sweeteners and syrups--totally optional. You may prefer your coffee black and unsweetened, or creamy and desserty. One of the great things about this method is that you have complete flexibility with what you add to individual glasses of iced coffee. You can use whatever sweetener you like or none at all. Here are some of the sweeteners and syrups I've tried: agave syrup, honey, maple syrup, sugar, and turbinado sugar. I also purchased 3 good quality syrups (French vanilla, caramel, and hazelnut) at Whole Foods for when I want a more desserty iced coffee--they have fewer calories than the other sweeteners. You can also drizzle in some chocolate syrup for an iced mocha. For me, the syrups are a treat, not an every time deal. --calorie & carb count: most of these sweeteners have 15-20 calories and 3-6g carbs per teaspoon. Stevia is a natural zero calorie option. --view organic sweeteners on Amazon:turbinado sugar, agave nectar syrup, honey, maple syrup, French vanilla syrup, caramel syrup, chocolate agave syrup, stevia
milk -- use whatever kind you prefer--skim, 2%, whole, or half and half. I normally use skim or 2%. For non-dairy options, I've tried iced coffee with both coconut and almond milk and like them both. If you use coconut milk, the kind that comes in a carton is diluted and doesn't have a strong coconut taste. The canned coconut milk (often found with Asian foods in grocery stores) is pure and more flavorful--it's also higher in fat and calories than the boxed kind. --nutritional info for 1/2 cup: skim milk, 45 calories, 0g fat, 13g carbs, 9g protein 2% milk, 65 calories, 5g fat, 12g carbs, 8g protein almond milk (unsweetened), 20 calories, 1g fat, 1g carbs, .5g protein coconut milk in carton (unsweetened), 22 calories, 2g fat, 1g carbs, 0g protein coconut milk, light, in can, 80 calories, 7g fat, 0g carbs, 0g protein
Cold-Brew Coffee Makers. I'm going to show you how I make cold-brew coffee using some inexpensive gadgets I already had on hand in my kitchen. If you happen to have a French press coffee maker, that can also be used for cold-brewing. There are cold brew coffee makers available, too, if you prefer to go that route. No electricity required!
Method #1 using a tea brewing basket -- Makes 3 cups of coffee concentrate (enough for six 8-oz iced coffees). This is my favorite method--the simplest and easiest.
Step 1. Assemble these supplies.
Tea brewing basket-- If you're not familiar with these tea baskets, their primary purpose is to hang them in a mug or teapot, fill them with loose tea leaves, and pour boiling water into them for steeping tea. (I used these in my previous recipes for Refrigerator Iced Tea and Flavored Iced Teas.) Turns out, they're the perfect size for brewing and straining a 1 quart jar of coffee concentrate, too. The baskets come in two size; you need the LARGE size for this cold-brew coffee (click to view on Amazon)
Jar funnel--optional, but handy if you have one. Fits all regular and wide mouth mason jars (click to view on Amazon)
Plastic lids for mason jars--more durable, and easier to screw off and on than the 2-piece metal lids (click to view on Amazon)
Step 2. Insert brewing basket inside jar so it hangs from the jar rim. Pour filtered water throught the basket until the water level is even or slightly higher than the bottom of the filter. Place the jar funnel in the brewing basket, and add 1 cup of ground coffee. (Spoon in the coffee if you don't have a funnel.)
Step 3. Slowly pour water into the basket of coffee until it's full to the top. The water will start soaking the coffee grounds as it passes through the filter into the jar. Use a fork to gently stir the coffee grounds so they all get saturated and to help the water pass through more quickly. Continue adding water, stirring and waiting for it to drip through, repeating until the jar is full of liquid and the coffee grounds are completely immersed in water so they continue soaking and releasing flavor.
Step 4. Put the tea basket lid on top and leave the jar out on the counter overnight (approx. 12 hours) to brew at room temperature.
Step 5. After the 12-hours of brewing on the countertop, remove the brewing basket with the coffee grounds. You should have approx. 3 cups of concentrated coffee liquid remaining in the jar. Put a lid on the jar and refrigerate for up to 1 month.
The benefit of Method #1 above is that you don't have to strain the grinds out of the coffee liquid after the brewing is finished. The brewing basket keeps the coffee soaking in the water to make the concentrate, and then can be removed--grounds and all--with no more straining necessary. However, if you don't have a tea brewing basket, Method 2 may be the best choice for you.
Method #2 using a wire strainer and coffee filter (or cheesecloth). This method is similar, but uses slightly different gear. You can use this method to make the same amount in a one quart jar (like Method #1); but it also can be easily adapted if you want to make a double batch in a two quart jar or container.
Basket-style coffee filters (widely available at grocery stores); or you can use cheesecloth (click to view on Amazon)
Plastic lids for mason jars--more durable, and easier to screw off and on than the 2-piece metal lids (click to view on Amazon
Step 2. Place the funnel in the jar and add 1 cup of ground coffee. (Spoon it in, if you don' have a funnel.)
Step 3. Pour in filtered water all the way to the top, stir grounds with a fork all the way to the bottom of the jar, making sure they are all saturated. Top off with more water to completely fill the jar.
Step 4. Screw on the jar lid and leave out on counter at room temperature over night or approx. 12 hours.
Step 5. After the overnight brewing, place the funnel in an empty 1 quart jar. Place the wire strainer inside the funnel, and the coffee filter (or cheesecloth) inside the strainer.
Step 6. Slowly pour the coffee water and grounds into the filter until the filter is full. Let the coffee run through into the jar, refilling the filter with more coffee liquid, waiting for it to drip through, and repeating until all of the coffee has been strained. Be patient, this can take up to 30 minutes. (If you're using cheesecloth instead of a coffee filter, you may need to strain it a second time.)
Step 7. Once all of the coffee has been strained into the jar (there should be approx. 3 cups of liquid), put a lid on it and store it in the fridge up to 1 month.
If you don't have a jar funnel, it will be difficult to strain the coffee directly into a jar. Instead, follow the same procedure as above, except strain the coffee into a bigger bowl and then transfer it to a jar or covered container for storage in the fridge.
Step 1. Fill a glass or small jar with ice cubes. I'm using pint jars here, because I'm a little mason jar crazy, if you haven't noticed. (click to view pint jars on Amazon)
Step 2. Fill the glass/jar about half full with coffee. If you drink yours black, fill the rest of the jar with filtered water. If you like yours with milk, top it off with the amount of milk you like (instead of water). I filled mine with 2% milk to the top. Use whatever kind of dairy or non-dairy milk you prefer.
Step 3. If you want it sweet, add whatever kind of sweetener you like. I added a bit of turbinado raw sugar to mine. (click to view turbinado sugar on Amazon) You can also stir in a flavored syrup if you like.
Step 4. Stir, drink, and enjoy a smooth & delicious glass of iced coffee!
With or without milk, however you like it!
Vietnamese Iced Coffee--my favorite! I read about how to make it here. My modified, cold-brew version is as easy as it gets. It's made exactly the same way as the iced coffee above. The only difference is that after pouring coffee over the ice cubes, you add 1-2 tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk--you get the milk and sweetener in one step. I did top mine off with a little extra 2% milk, too. Give it a stir, and let me tell you, this is one fantastic iced coffee. It's sweet, and an occasional treat--not my everyday iced coffee. click to view organic sweetened condensed milk on Amazon (1 tablespoon has 65 calories, 1.5g fat, 11g carbs, 3g protein)
OH MY YUM. I love this stuff.
Make a big batch to serve your guests!How fun would this be to put out at your next brunch or party? I made two big batches in 2-quart jars, and put out a variety of sweeteners and flavors for guests to add. You can just have a big jar of plain iced coffee and let them add their own milk, or make some already combined for them--or both. You can always make a jar of decaf, too. (click to view 2-quart jars on Amazon)
I filled smaller pint and half-pint jars with ice for serving guests, so they have a size choice.
Make coffee ice cubes! I saw this great idea on Pinterest. Freeze coffee in ice cube trays and use coffee ice cubes in your iced coffee so it doesn't get watered down as the cubes melt. (This may not be an issue if you guzzle it down as fast as I do!). Once the cubes are frozen, you can transfer them to a ziploc bag and keep them handy in the freezer.
Here are some of my favorite iced coffee combos to try. All start with 1/2 cup coffee concentrate:
Refer to the nutritional info. listed with the sweeteners and milks earlier in this post to calculate calories, etc. of other add-ins.
Make a coffee cocktail! Just add a shot of rum, vodka, Bailey's, Kahlua, or other favorite liquor to your iced coffee. Stir and say, "Cheers!"
I'm ready for summer with my jars of coffee concentrate in my fridge. I love that they keep for a month. I just brewed a couple of jars to have on hand when I need a quick iced coffee fix on a hot day. So easy, smooth, and delicious!
First you need to cold-brew the coffee using one of two methods. 1. Supplies: 1 quart jar, tea straining basket (type that fits inside jar and rests on rim). Place straining basket on jar rim and pour water through basket into jar, just to level even with bottom of basket. Add ground coffee to basket. Pour additional water over coffee grounds, stirring, adding more water, and repeating, until jar is full of liquid and coffee grounds in basket are immersed in liquid. Cover leave at room temperature for 12 hours. Remove straining basket with coffee grounds. Cover and refrigerate coffee liquid.* 2. Supplies: Two 1-quart jars/containers; wire mesh strainer, basket-style coffee filter. Add coffee grounds to jar. Fill with water, stirring to ensure that the grounds are saturated. Cover and leave at room temperature for 12 hours. Place wire strainer over 2nd container, place coffee filter inside strainer. Pour coffee/water mixture into filter until full, wait for the coffee to drain through into container, repeat until coffee mixture is completely strained. Cover & refrigerate coffee liquid.*
*Concentrated coffee liquid will keep in the fridge for up to 1 month.
For a double batch, follow Method #2 instructions above, using 2-quart jars or containers and doubling the amount of coffee and water.
To make a glass of iced coffee: Fill glass with ice. Pour in chilled coffee concentrate, filling the glass about half way (or more, to taste). Add water (for black coffee) or milk to the top of the glass. Add sweetener to taste, if desired. Stir.
For Vietnamese Iced Coffee. Fill glass with ice cubes; pour in chilled coffee concentrate, filling the glass about half way (or more, to taste); add 1-2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk, fill glass to top with milk. Stir. (2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk has 65 calories, 1.5g fat, 11g carbs, 3g protein; 2 Weight Watchers PointsPlus)
Some low calories iced coffee combos to try. All start with 1/2 cup coffee concentrate:
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