Iced Coffee is made by taking freshly brewed hot coffee and adding it to ice. Learning how to make iced coffee at home using the correct ratio of coffee, water and ice will produce the same quality as a coffee shop at a fraction of the price.
Depending on how much time you have on your hands and how OCD you want to be you can make an iced coffee at home in as little as 5 minutes or you can use specialist brewing methods and exact measurements to craft a delicious beverage that is more of an experience than a drink.
The more time you are willing to spend the better your iced coffee will taste and once you have nailed the process then you will end up with a creation that will make you wonder why you ever paid £3 or more for an iced coffee in a coffee shop when you can make a better one at home for about 30p.
We recognise that not everyone wants to use a coffee maker or coffee machine to brew coffee so we will cover 2 different ways to make iced coffee, the easy quick way and a more complex method that will deliver café quality iced coffee.
The easy way to make iced coffee
Instant coffee remains the most popular coffee purchased in the UK and it can be used to make iced coffee.
Using the correct ratios of coffee, water and ice as described in the hard way to make iced coffee below will result in a more tasty coffee but at the end of the day, the most important thing by far is the quality of the coffee.
If you are looking to replicate an iced coffee you would buy in Costo or Starbucks at home with instant coffee it’s not going to happen because the coffee shops use better coffee than instant and they used freshly brewed coffee beans to make their coffee.
If you drink coffee every day and want it to taste better this article explains why you should consider trying something different to instant:
If however you like instant and you have no interest in trying anything else its super easy to convert a cup of hot instant coffee into iced coffee.
The important thing to remember is that you start with hot coffee and pour it over ice to make it cold.
If you make it with cold water to start with you will ruin the flavour because instant coffee granules are made to produce the best taste when mixed with hot water.
Once the coffee is hot it can be cooled and the flavour will still be pleasant but don’t start with cold water in the first place.
The most important thing is to make your coffee a little stronger than normal because you will be diluting it in ice to produce the final drink.
The standard way to make instant coffee is to use about 1 teaspoon of coffee but for iced coffee you should use 1 ½ – 2 teaspoons depending on how strong you like it.
In the hard way to make instant coffee we will be using exact weights but for the easy method you want about ½ glass of ice and a strong cup of instant coffee already flavoured with sugar to taste but without milk.
Pour the coffee over the ice, stir and leave for about 2 minutes.
Once some but not all of the ice has melted you can add milk to adjust the coffee to the strength you like.
It’s the perfect way to keep cool and still get your coffee fix without spending any extra time.
If however, you have a little more time on your hands then read on to learn how to make iced coffee that is better than a coffee shop.
The hard way to make iced coffee
As a general rule if something is harder to do then a lot of the time it turns out to be better and more satisfying and iced coffee definitely falls into that category.
Coffee shops in the UK have found a way to charge a lot of money for cold coffee and some of the time it isn’t even freshly brewed coffee at all.
For example, one of the most popular “iced coffee drinks” is a Frappuccino from Starbucks.
If you order one of those you get a couple of pumps of what they call “Frappuccino roast” which is made up of instant coffee and other things and then it gets blended with milk and ice.
The name Frappuccino is trademarked to Starbucks but Café Nero and Costa do a similar thing but call it something else.
If you want to learn about Frappuccino specifics then this article explains:
To make the best iced coffee you need to have great coffee beans to start with.
If you already use coffee beans and grind them just before brewing your coffee that’s perfect. If not then coffee beans from the supermarket are a little bit hit and miss and it’s hard to know what you may or may not like.
This article explains the best way to choose coffee beans:
Once you have some decent beans it’s time to grind them and brew.
You can use espresso but the flavour is very strong so for a milder more mellow drink we are going to be using filter coffee which is a very underrated and cheap way to brew coffee.
You can use a filter coffee machine or a V60 pour over. If you have neither of these you can pick up a cheap filter coffee machine for under £30 that will make coffee quickly with one touch that is miles better than any instant coffee you have ever drunk.
These are some examples:
For 500ml of coffee (about two decent sized mugs) you’ll need:
- 33g of ground coffee
- 200g of ice
- 300g of hot water just off the boil
Using the correct ratio of water to coffee is crucial to achieving the best flavour.
We normally recommend 60 grams of ground coffee to 1 litre of water so that would be 30 grams of ground coffee to 500ml of water.
This article explains more about why you should use the correct ratio’s
We are recommending about 10% more coffee than normal for iced coffee because the intensity of coffee is slightly reduced when cooled so making it a bit stronger will make it taste similar cold as it is hot.
Because the ice and the brewed coffee will be combined you only need 300g of water which will create a much stronger coffee than you want before it is combined.
Use two glasses and add 100g of ice to each glass.
Grind your coffee a bit finer than normal so it takes a bit longer to extract giving a slightly stronger flavour that will become milder when added to the ice.
Make 300g of coffee using a filter coffee machine or a V60 pour over. A filter coffee machine is easier and only requires a one button press to produce the coffee.
Once brewed add sugar to taste before pouring half the coffee into each cup and wait for 5 minutes.
When the ice has almost melted give it a good stir, add milk if required and enjoy!
Here is a video from coffee expert James Hoffman showing the way he makes iced coffee:
Difference between iced coffee and cold brew coffee
The main difference is that cold brew coffee is made with cold water to brew the coffee and iced coffee is made with hot water to brew the coffee before cooling with ice.
Cold brew coffee is also left to steep in coffee grounds for 12-24 hours wheras iced coffee is ready to drink as soon as it is brewed.
Here is a short video showing how you can make you own cold brew coffee at home:
Do you need a blender to make iced coffee?
A blender is certainly not essential for making iced coffee but if you want to jazz it up a bit you can whizz everything up in a blender for 30 seconds and even add some flavoured syrup.
The ice will break up into small pieces making it make more like an authentic coffee shop iced coffee or Frappuccino.