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, iced coffee — a beverage reputed to be loved by gay people — included. You probably have the supplies you need to make cold brew coffee concentrate (THE key ingredient of delicious home-made iced coffee) on hand. You can even use a French press to easily make cold brew coffee right at home.

Are you ready? I’m ready.

This post was originally published March 23, 2012 and it sure has been 9 years since then. We’re happy to report that, still, gay people love drinking and making iced coffee. We hope you enjoy these instructions on making cold brew at home, using regular coffee beans, even!

“Toddy” and Making Cold Brew at Home

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 we would then dilute 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 we called the ground coffee we used “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.

This image is a collage of the step-by-step process for making cold brew coffee concentrate for iced coffee at home. On the bottom right is a photo of the supplies: coffee, a jar, a coffee filter, and a grinder. On the top right is the jar with ground coffee beans and water, labeled with the time. On the left are two images of the coffee concentrate being strained into a glass, and central, a glass of iced coffee.
Iced coffee is truly a gay people staple at this point, an icon.

How to Make Cold Brew Coffee Step by Step

Ingredients and supplies: regular coffee beans of your choosing (or ground coffee), coffee grinder, a jar or container, coffee filters and a funnel OR you can use a French press to make your cold brew — do you!

  1. Grind your regular coffee

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

  2. Add coffee grounds to a jar

    Put it in a jar or other glass container that you can cover/make 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. Just add water!

    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. It takes time to make cold brew coffee, but it’s worth it

    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 when making cold brew coffee at home at first. I labeled my jar with the time I started so I wouldn’t forget!

  5. Strain your coffee

    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 make cold brew with a French press. (Use the French press as brewing container, filter, everything.) 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.

What To Do With Your Coffee Concentrate

DON’T DRINK IT YET. What you have now is not iced coffee, but cold brew “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 to make iced coffee right at home. Keep the rest of in the fridge to drink later or even add to a cocktail! 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, in bed, while laying under a ceiling fan. Life is good, no?

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Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

Rachel has written 1142 articles for us.


  1. Are you telling me I can do this, add soy milk and then have iced soy lattes? IS THIS WHAT YOU’RE TELLING ME?

    I love you.

    • 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?

  2. 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.

    • You will need to add some sticky sugar of sorts agent so the ice and liquid don’t separate after like, a minute.

      (from resident Starbucks barista)

  3. literally just googled this last night because i’m gonna be so poor if i keep going to DD for iced coffee all summer (because apparently summer now starts in March on the East Coast). SO excited to try it!

    • seriously, use condensed milk in all your chai teas and coffees. let it change your life.

    • 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!

      • I had this for the first time in spain and it was soooo good. Then I discovered that my local coffee joint makes these and I was happy forever. Here they call them “behemoths”

      • 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…)

        • 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!

          • 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. Oh God. I have been putting my coffee in the fridge every night before bed for two semesters now and it just tastes like nothing the next morning. This is life-changing.

  7. I feel like I NEED to do this, because it will be so much better than leftover coffee from the morning at room temperature with ice cubes and some milk. MUCH BETTER.

  8. Does it have to be fresh ground, or can it come from a can? Obviously fresh is best, but will it work with the other?

    • It won’t be as good, but it will still work. Your ground might be really fine, in which case filter it an extra time, perhaps?

  9. Mind blown. My roommates will be so excited that we’re going to have iced coffee on demand all summer.

  10. If someone were to make this and bring it to me, like right now..I would totally make it worth your while!

  11. I just spent an extra $20 at the grocery on a french press and coarse ground coffee. Damn you.

    • you can make this in your french press and just press to separate the grounds from the coffee. which is exactly how I do it.

  12. I was sad because I don’t have coffee grounds. But then I realized I have Turkish coffee powder which is sort of the same thing! …ish.

  13. THIS!!! Just made me real excited and is going to save me an embarrassing amount of money

  14. 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……….

    • Room temp is fine. I use cold because my filtered water is kept in the fridge. You don’t have to use hot water though.

    • 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!

    • 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.

      • You know your coffee Ms. Riot, if you are ever in Michigan I will supply whatever foods wanted if you will make the coffee.

        • where in michigan? also, we have the same initials. this is actually the main reason I’m commenting.

  15. yes! this is perfect. yesterday i kept thinking about how i can’t afford to buy iced coffee daily starting in march.

  16. I just started a batch! Putting yesterdays coffee in a glass with some ices and flavored creamer is totally something I used to do all the time, but no more thanks to rachel!

  17. 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.

    • 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..

      • 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.

  18. 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.

    • I know this comment was left like 3 years ago but I literally just did this same thing tonight (huge batch, the lady at my favorite local coffee place recommended a 1:8 coffee to water ratio which was SO MUCH WATER considering I was using an entire 12oz bag of beans) and it took so much longer to strain everything out that was worth the $30 I saved not just buying a dedicated cold brew contraption.

  19. 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

  20. 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.

    • 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.)

  21. 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?

    • i say try it! there’s probably a name for what that is, but i don’t know it. let us know how it is!

  22. 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!)

    • Chai as we know it in the Western world is essentially just black tea with other spices — primarily cardamom, also often ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, even a little black pepper. Which give it a distinct, warm flavor profile that’s kind of similar to apple pie, and is especially nice sweetened with milk. If you think those spices sound nice, you will like it, I think.

  23. 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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