How to Make Iced Coffee Drinks at Home

Making Iced Coffee Drinks at Home

Hot coffee has always been a very common beverage, but iced coffee beverages have historically been confined to certain areas of the world such as Austria, France, and England.  Today, however, according to the National Coffee Association, iced coffee is following closely on the heels of the trendy cappuccino and latte and gaining in popularity every year.

As refreshing as iced tea, iced coffee is just as easy to make.  There is an infinite number of ways to vary the taste of your iced coffee, as well.  Just as with hot versions of the beverage, various syrups, sugar, milk, or cream can be added.  You can even get creative and personalize your iced coffee experience in many delicious ways with the addition of ingredients like spices, chocolate or liquors.  The best part is you can reproduce expensive coffee house versions at home rather simply.

Hot Brew Method

Start with freshly brewed coffee or espresso made in a percolator, French press, or automatic drip coffeemaker.  If you have a fancy espresso machine, by all means use it, but it is not essential to make good iced coffee.  Even instant coffee can be made into a delicious cold beverage.  Many people find, however, that stronger coffee results in better iced coffee because the addition of the ice tends to dilute it somewhat.  Experiment with coffee strength to find your personal preferences.  After coffee is brewed, add sugar if desired while coffee is still hot, and let it cool to room temperature.  Pour over ice.  Store any leftover coffee in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Tip:  Instead of ice cubes, freeze leftover coffee in ice trays and use them in place ice for an extra strong iced concoction.

Cold Brew Method

Although any type of traditional brewing method for coffee can be used to make iced coffee beverages, many people don’t realize that they can also use the cold brew method which does not require a coffeemaker at all.  This brewing method is good for minimizing the acid content in coffee, as well as reducing bitterness.  The process for cold brewing coffee is simple:

  • Add about ½ pound of coffee to approximately five or six cups of water. 
  • Stir to make sure all the grounds are wet.
  • Leave it loosely covered at room temperature for eight to ten hours.
  • Strain through a sieve lined with a coffee filter and your coffee is ready to put over ice. 

Simple Syrup Recipe for Iced Coffee

Many different ingredients can be added to iced coffee to make it taste like a coffeehouse specialty.  Milk, cream, and sugar are the most common additives to both hot and cold coffee beverages, but sugar does not dissolve in iced coffee easily.  To remedy this situation, consider making simple syrup.  True to its name, simple syrup is, easy to make and can be modified in a number of ways. 

  • To start, simply combine one cup of water with two cups of sugar in a saucepan.
  •  Stir with a spoon to moisten the sugar.
  •  Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally. Simmer for about ten minutes. 
  • Cool.  Store your syrup in the refrigerator.

Tip:  Use leftover coffee in place of the water in your simple syrup recipe for extra coffee flavor.

To give your simple syrup additional punch, add cinnamon, nutmeg or other spices to the mixture while it is simmering.  Strain your syrup before storing.  Simple syrup can be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks.

Tip:  For adults-only coffee, add a couple of ounces of rum, brandy, or your favorite flavored liqueur to the syrup after it has cooled to room temperature. 

Of course, many store bought products such as sweetened condensed milk, caramel syrup, or chocolate syrup are available to provide richness, flavor, and sweetness to your iced coffee.

Iced coffee, with all of its variations, is one of the up and coming trends on the coffeehouse scene and it is slowly gaining ground in popularity over its hot counterpart. Whether you use the hot or cold brew method, top it with whipped cream and chocolate shavings, or drink it black, iced coffee is a refreshing beverage that is easy to make at home.

The 5 Secrets to Making the Perfect Cup of Coffee

How to Make the Perfect Cup of Coffee

Cowboys used to make their coffee in an old bean can over a campfire. Coffee house aficionados swear by the French press method. And, of course, millions of people start each work day with at least one cup of hot, strong automatic drip. What may surprise you is that with each of these methods, the rules are still the same for making a perfect cup. The brewing device is up to you. Grab a filter, a percolator basket, or an old tin can, and learn the secrets to delicious coffee every time.

1. Start With Clean Equipment

If you have a busy workplace, you may have noticed that the coffee at work tastes much worse in the break room than what you brew at home. That’s because your workplace often brews several pots a day, while at home you probably just have one. The frequent use means that the coffee maker has picked up the oily residue from hundreds and hundreds of previous pots. That gunky, black residue manages to leave its funky flavor in every cup of coffee you have until it gets cleaned out.

Even cowboys used a fresh, clean bean can to start their morning brew. Clean your pot regularly with vinegar diluted in water at least once a month, or once a week if you make several pots a day. Clean your glass carafe often too, with a little baking soda and a non-abrasive sponge. Be careful not to scratch it: those scratches can trap the oils from your coffee and leave a bitter taste. Clean equipment will help your coffee’s great taste come through.

2. Use Cold Water of the Best Quality Possible

The flavor extracted from your coffee beans only makes up 1% of the cup you drink. The other 99% of your cup of coffee is water. Simply stated: if your water is bad, your coffee will be bad. Remember the cowboys with their tin can coffee? They used cool, clear water from a nearby spring. The closer you can come to duplicating it, the more you’ll taste the difference. If you’re using tap water, let it run for a few minutes to reduce the sediment from sitting in your pipes. The water from your hot water tank also picks up unwanted tastes, so stick with the cold.

Of course, if you want the very best coffee possible, you aren’t required to use tap water at all. Try using filtered water or your favorite bottled water. The cost is more, but it pays off in dividends of gourmet quality coffee. If you make coffee at work, fill the carafe from the water cooler, which is usually filtered water. If you enjoy coffee made with higher quality water, you might want to invest in a filter pitcher, which takes the unpleasant taste out of your own tap water.

3. Use the Correct Grind

Coffee gets its flavor from the oils in the beans. To make your coffee taste its best, the amount of oils extracted need to be between 18 and 22 percent. If you use too fine a grind for your coffee maker, the taste will be too bitter. If it sounds like rocket science, it’s not. All you need to do is make sure that the grind you use matches the method of brewing you plan to use. Your machine will do the extraction work.

An espresso maker makes a cup of coffee super fast, so the grind needs to be quite fine. The plunger method is the slowest, so a heavier, coarser grind is required. Drip makers fall in the middle, so if you grind your own, use the medium setting. Pre-ground coffees usually default to the drip type of grind. Unsure what grind you need? Check your coffee makers instruction booklet. Most have detailed information on which type is best for your particular type of machine.

4. Use the Correct Temperature

Coffee beans don’t need to be cooked. They have already been roasted to perfection. You only need very hot water to extract the oils that flavor your cup of coffee. Most automatic coffee makers have their temperature already set, but if you are using a plunger-type coffee maker, you’ll need to make sure that you don’t boil your water first. Bring the kettle to just below the boiling point before pouring it over your fresh grounds.

5. Serve it Quickly

Isn’t the first cup of coffee you pour from the pot always the best? That’s because about 15 minutes after it brews, the aromatic oils in coffee start to evaporate. Longer than that, and the result is that bitter, tasteless stuff you find in gas stations. Have you notices that the best coffee shops don’t keep their coffee on a burner? It’s poured into thermoses, so it doesn’t keep endlessly cooking away. If you drink a lot of coffee, think about brewing only one half or one quarter of a pot at a time. Each cup will be astronomically better.

There may be one unwritten rule of coffee making in addition to these five. That rule is: make your own rules. Once your coffee is brewed, don’t let anyone tell you how you should drink it. Sweet, black, creamy, decaffeinated: the choice is yours. Just keep in mind that if you follow the specifications for making a perfect cup, your favorite coffee will be even better than it was before, and that’s what coffee perfection is all about.