How to Make Iced Coffee at Home, Be Happy Forever

It is finally the time of year where the sun shines for more than a few hours at a time and it occasionally rises above 60 degrees, which means it’s time for a lot of caffeinated iced beverages. Are you ready? I’m ready.

Once upon a time, I worked as a barista at a place that had its own homemade cold-brewed iced coffee, and while I don’t mean to brag, it was generally understood to be really fucking good iced coffee. We would take a giant bag of coarsely ground coffee called “toddy,” mix it with water, and let it steep for 24 hours or so before straining it intensively to get “coffee concentrate,” which would then be diluted with water into delicious delicious iced coffee. Now that I do not work at that place or live in that city anymore, I was bemoaning my inability to make the same thing at home. Then I realized that while the ground coffee we used was called “toddy” it was actually still just coffee, and I have a ton of that. So! Largely thanks to this recipe from the New York Times, here’s an easy way to make baller iced coffee according to your own preferences at home. Because you think that just putting hot coffee in the fridge is a good idea, but it’s really not.


ICED COFFEE


1. Grind about 1/3 cup of coffee beans, not too fine. Medium/coarse is good.

2. Put it in a jar or other glass container that can be covered/made airtight. I guess you can use tupperware if you want, but I wouldn’t recommend it, at least not unless you want what’s in that tupperware to taste like coffee forever.

3. Add about 1 1/2 cups of water, or more to taste. (My coffee is a super dark roast, so I added like two cups.) As is, this recipe will make 2-3 drinks worth of coffee; if you want more than that, feel free to use a larger container and double the amounts of coffee and water.

4. Leave your container at room temperature for somewhere between 12 and 20 hours. I know that’s a big difference. I went with about 12, but other people like other things! Like stronger coffee I guess! Depending on what kind of beans you’re using and what you think you like, do what you want, but maybe err on the side of less brewing time rather than more. I labeled my jar with the time I started so I wouldn’t forget!

5. Strain the grounds out of your coffee. I did this by putting a funnel lined with a coffee filter into a tall glass and pouring the coffee concentrate through it, and then doing the whole thing again so that the silt and leftover grounds were totally gone. If you’re fancy, you can actually just do this whole process in a French press, and press the mesh down to strain the grounds out. I didn’t do this because I can’t go a full 20 hours without using my French press to make actual hot coffee, but hey, you do you.

6. DON’T DRINK IT YET. What you have now is not iced coffee, but “coffee concentrate.” Put some water in it! I went with a 1:1 ratio of concentrate to water, but you might like more or less. You can add water a little at a time and taste it? Up to you.

Now you have something you can pour over ice, and keep the rest of in the fridge to drink later! I have heard rumors that putting a pinch of salt in there tastes more refreshing somehow, but am skeptical. Let me know how that goes! Feel free to also weigh in on the regular iced cube/coffee iced cube controversy. Either way, enjoy on your patio or through a straw, in bed, while laying under a ceiling fan. Life is good, no?

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Rachel is Autostraddle's Senior Editor and the editor who presides over books as well as news and politics coverage. Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel currently lives in Michigan. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy."

Rachel has written 741 articles for us.

67 Comments

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      Technically no! Because you need espresso for lattes, and this is just coffee. If we were going to make an honest-to-goodness latte, we’d pour some milk over ice and then pour a shot of espresso or two on top of that. But you can have really good iced coffee with some soymilk and it will be delicious and refreshing?

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    I think, though I could be wrong, that if I took this concentrate, added a few ice cubes and some half and half and then stuck it in my Vitamix, that I would have a delicious beverage approximating a Frappucino. I intend to fight out.

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      Oh man, sweetened condensed milk is the most delicious thing. In Spain you can get espressos with sweetened condensed milk… I think they call them “bombons.”
      I’m definitely going to try this next time I make iced coffee!

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        Ohhh, I *love* sweetened condensed milk in my coffee. But then my 13 year old daughter asked me why I used it. I said because I like it. She said, ‘It’s made by Nestle, and you’ve been boycotting them for years because of the baby milk’. And that was true; I’ve been boycotting them since the 80s, I just hadn’t noticed the Nestle symbol on the can. Soo… no more condensed milk in coffee for me. (‘It’s up to you,’ she said. ‘I’m just reminding you.’ For someone who doesn’t want kids, she has the ‘Mum’ guilt trip down to a fine art…)

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          But surely you can get sweetened condensed milk that’s not made by Nestle… right?
          (Though I just looked up the brand I use, and sure enough, Nestle–do they own everything??)
          If not, Wikipedia tells me you can make your own sweetened condensed milk by simmering regular milk until it reduces and then adding sugar. DIY project!

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          guys, trader joe’s make’s organic scm (yes, i did just abreev that). and it comes in a resealable squeeze bottle! so it’s pretty much the best.

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    This is extremely relevant to my interests as I just put hot coffee in my refrigerator last night. I thought it was a good idea, but it wasn’t. It was in fact, a mediocre idea.
    Think of all the other delicious things one could possibly make with coffee concentrate. Ice cream. Coffee/Vanilla pudding pops. Okay that’s all I have right now, but I’m sure there’s more. A whole world of cold coffee treats just opened up to us. So, thanks for that Rachel.

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    Also:

    1. Pour regular brewed coffee (sweetened to how you like it, add milk if that’s how you do!) into an ice tray
    2. Freeze into coffee cubes
    3. Use coffee ice cubes in your iced coffee so you never have that gross milky coffee flavored water at the very end of your drink.

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    i was starting to hate myself for spending money on ice coffee when it’s only march cause i can’t drink hot coffee that i make at home anymore..

    then rachel wrote this article…

    and the rest will be history……….

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      Agreed! I live in College Station (born and mainly raised in Texas) but I spoil myself and visit family in Colorado every summer and lived out there for a while.. My first summer (well technically it’s spring) back and I swear to god my face is melting already! I fear the 100 degree weather that will surely occur!

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      Espresso beans are pretty much just coffee beans that have been roasted longer than regular coffee beans are so sure! Just make sure that you use a course grind (and not the same fine grind that you would use for an espresso shot). If you like very strong rich coffees you can leave the recipe as is, if you prefer lighter flavored I would suggest upping the water to grounds ratio.

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    I’m so going to try this! Also, just throwing this out there…I have a Keurig and am kinda skeptical about their “iced coffee” K-cups. Has anyone ventured to try these? Are they worth it? I feel like I have a problem with brewing the hot coffee directly over ice for some reason.

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      Don’t. Do. It…EVER! You will use one..Be disappointed..You won’t be able to throw them away, because that would be wasteful..And using a Keurig already seems wasteful, what with not being able to recycle the K-cups…And so the rest will just sit there in your Keurig K-cup holder..Silently mocking you..

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        Ugh, this is exactly how I saw it playing out! Thanks for confirming my suspicions and saving me the all the guilt!! We already rinse out the used K-cups and refill them with coffee we grind at home and have reusable caps to put on them because I can’t stand the idea of throwing away a plastic cup every time I want coffee. No need to waste time/money/energy on their icy drink propaganda!

        PS: Used K-cups are apparently a great place to start seedlings for flowers and veggies. Just in case anyone else is as concerned about repurposing them as I am, lol.

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    I am so into iced coffee and have been experimenting with it for a while. I need massive quantities b/c I go through it so quickly, so 1-2 servings at a time is really not worth it for me.

    I tried just steeping it and trying to strain out all the grounds – way too time consuming, messy and you’re still left with coffee sediment in there despite using a course ground.
    Same thing doing it in french press – still too much sediment.

    The way to go – buy the Cold Toddy brewing thing – like $30 and totally worth it. Easy, no sediment. Use the same grounds twice! First batch is quite concentrated, second you can pretty much drink straight. I’ve used it a few times and love it.

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    when I want iced coffee I just make myself a cup of coffee like normal and then put it in the fridge and then it gets cold and then I put ice in it, milk and all. But apparently I am uncivilised in regards to drinks because I will totally make myself tea, forget about it and drink it tepid seven hours later.

    I will try this though

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    to all you lazy ladgygays thinking “i’ll just make regular coffee and put ice in it” i say MAKE THIS RIGHT NOW and you will instantly demand more and better iced coffee. i make this whenever i’m at the tail end of a ground batch, or when i leave really good grounds in the freezer so they’ll “keep longer” and am too lazy to defrost properly (although this rarely happens now because i have a hand mill and grind every time). i drink the “coffee concentrate” straight up like a drug (a tall, dark, sweating glass of delicious drug), but i do recommend condensed milk if you have it lying around.
    rachel thank you for putting this on autostraddle. if i ever forget the grounds-water ratio i shall try coming to this coffee-for-queer-ladies recipe instead of floating around various coffee/foodgeek sites. maybe my coffee will taste gayer.

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      Aah I love hand mills! I don’t have one, but a friend of mine did when she was in a living situation where the (water-generated) electricity would run out if they weren’t careful, and it totally blew my mind. Pioneer-style living, but easy and cute! (I just have an electric grinder myself; also works nicely as a spice grinder, which is one benefit.)

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    Oh, Autostraddle, I think I’m going to marry you.

    Question: Can I mix said coffee concentrate in a 1:1 concentration with milk to make a delicious creamy drink-thing? Would it still be too strong?

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    Ok this shows just how British I am: I know Chai tea is all the rage across the pond. So does anyone know how it differs from and if its better/worse then a traditional cup of English Breakfast (nom!)

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    I don’t know about making it more ‘refreshing’ but salt cancels out bitterness for some reason. I always have a little bit of salt on my grapefruit instead of sugar because of that.

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