Breakfast | Drinks | Recipes

Cold Brew Coffee is the Best Iced Coffee

They say that drinking hot beverages on a hot day actually helps lower your body temperature—has anyone ever tested that theory?

All I know is that the 90˚+ temps shown in the forecast mean it’s going to be a brutal week for those of us who live and die by our oven and stovetop burners.

iced coffee

It’s weeks like these that the world’s coffee addicts turn to the iced version, and as someone who’s back on the coffee wagon, I’ll most definitely be joining them.

But you absolutely know I’m not fooling around with that watered-down Dunkin’ Donuts stuff when I can be guzzling a far superior iced coffee from the comforts of my back porch.

How to Make the Best Iced Coffee

Make cold brew coffee.

As Oliver Schwaner-Albright notes in the New York Times piece that introduced me to the greatest iced coffee method, “Unless you’re familiar with coffee concentrate, New Orleans iced coffee is a puzzling ritual.”

It seems so unnecessary at first—why go to the trouble when you can just store brewed coffee in your fridge?—but cold-brew coffee gives you a deeper, more pure flavor without any of the bitterness that comes from drinking hot-brewed coffee that’s been cooled down.

Here’s how to make enough iced coffee to last for more than a month.

I use the ratio of 5 quarts (20 cups) water to 1 pound coffee grounds.

Pour the coffee grounds into a large punch bowl or stockpot, then add the water slowly, stirring gently at first to create a sludgy, fully hydrated mixture, then swirling the water down the edges of the bowl to make sure all the grounds are submerged.

Let the mixture sit overnight.

making coffee concentrate
it looks scary, but makes a mean iced coffee

In the morning, strain through a mesh sieve (not a colander!) into a large bowl, then wait 15 minutes.

Strain once more—pouring slowly—into a storage/serving container so the fine grounds will sink to the bottom of the bowl. You’ll see the liquid become thick, like wet sand, as you finish pouring.

If you want to keep higher-octane concentrate on hand, reduce the ratio to 10 cups water per pound.

Mix 1/4 cup coffee concentrate with cold, filtered water to taste and a splash of milk for an excellently rich yet soothing coffee.

Make cold brew coffee ice cubes.

Take the cold brew coffee you just made and pour some into ice cube trays.

Allow to freeze, then store the coffee ice cubes in a sealed container in the freezer.

Use these cubes instead of regular ice cubes to keep your coffee chilled. As they melt, they’ll just turn back into coffee concentrate and nothing’s going to get watered down.

Add more cold milk if you want an extra helping of iced coffee.

Use simple syrup.

If you’d like to add an extra hit of sugar, don’t just reach for the sugar bowl.

The granulated stuff doesn’t dissolve well in cold drinks—think of how long it takes to stir a sugar packet into iced tea when you’re out at a restaurant—but the same simple syrup used when mixing cocktails works perfectly in iced coffee and iced tea too.

Add a vanilla bean husk or a few drops of almond extract while the syrup cools down to make a flavored version for your iced coffee, and make a full 1 cup sugar / 1 cup water’s worth to keep in the fridge all summer.

Both the coffee concentrate and the simple syrup won’t go bad for at least a month when kept chilled, so you’ll be golden.

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  1. I’m so trying this next weekend – this weekend my plate is full with ketchup, pickels and pickeled beets. Hmmm, perhaps I will need that iced coffee today?

  2. Thank you!!! I have been trying to remember this recipe for ages! Thank you, this looks amazing…!

  3. I like this type of coffee.Its a very nice.Iced coffee is a cold variant of the beverage coffee.Brew a pot of coffee.Add sugar, milk,flavorings of choice.Pour over ice. Put the left overs in the fridge.

  4. I’ve completely switched over to cold brewing–a bit of extra work but SO worth it! My favorite lately is cinnamon iced coffee, inspired by a local Mexican cafe: just add cinnamon to the cold brew (prob 3 tsp for 1 pd of coffee–I usually brew smaller batches).

  5. Yes, that photo sure looks scary – and unappetizing – but i’ll take your word on it. There is nothing like a good, hearty iced coffee – and I know this is the right way to make it. I’ll bet it’s delish!

  6. If you want to make brewing coffee concentrate much easier, there is a tool for that.
    I am not affiliated with the company in any way. I just love having the concentrate around for beverages, baking, and cooking. I have been using it for years, and I just found out that it is much cheaper to buy online direct from the company than in our local gourmet cooking stores.

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