Iced Coffee

I am a big fan of iced coffee, especially when it is brutally hot out like it has been this past week. A cup of hot coffee seems almost tortuous when the thermometer is already at 80 degrees at 7 am. And going without coffee altogether–that’s tortuous for me and everyone around me. But here’s the problem: I couldn’t seem to make a good cup of iced coffee at home.

I have some favorite places to pick up an iced coffee if I’m out. Sips Coffee is a great little coffee shop and they make exceptional iced coffee. And I’m also a fan of Dunkin Donuts–good coffee and they have a drive thru, which means I don’t have to unbuckle and rebuckle two kids from car seats just to get a cup of coffee. But I really wanted to be able to make my own iced coffee at home, since driving around just for coffee seems a little crazy to me.

I recently won a copy of the “Special Summer Issue” of Everyday Food magazine (thank you Sassy Radish!) and there is an article about cold-brewed coffee in it. A ha! So that’s why my iced coffee at home isn’t tasting right! According to Matt Lonsbury (director of operations at Portland’s Stumptown Coffee Roasters), “Coffee that’s brewed hot, then served cold can be bitter and acidic.” I had already noticed this with iced tea, so it makes sense that it applies to iced coffee too.

Most of the recipes out there for cold-brewed coffee involve mixing ground coffee with cold water, letting it sit overnight, and then straining it with a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth. I have tried that before, and I found the straining process to be tricky and usually messy. Then it occurred to me–why not use my french press coffee maker? It does all the straining for you. It worked like a charm, and now I have my iced coffee without having to go out for it.

Iced Coffee (adapted from smitten kitchen)

  • 2/3 cup ground coffee
  • 3 cups cold water
  • milk/half & half/cream (optional)
  • sugar (optional)
  1. Pour the coffee and water into the pot of a french press coffee maker. Stir with a wooden spoon and put the top on the coffee pot (do not press the plunger down yet). Let it sit at room temperature for at least 12 hours (but no more than 24 hours).
  2. Press the plunger down to strain the coffee. Put some ice in a tall glass. Pour some of the cold-brewed coffee over the ice. Add milk/half & half/cream until it reaches your desired color. If you don’t like milk products in your coffee, add some cold water to dillute it a bit if it is too strong for you. Add sugar if you like.
  3. Pour the remaining cold-brewed coffee into a glass container (I like to use a Pyrex measuring cup since it has a spout) and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

Serves 3 (approximately–it depends on how big your glass is)

Time: 12 hours (brewing time) plus 5 minutes (to put it all together)

Notes: If you don’t have a french press coffee maker, mix the coffee and water in a glass container and cover it while it brews. Use a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth to strain the coffee.


4 thoughts on “Iced Coffee

    • Thanks for the link to Ree’s Iced Coffee–it was an interesting read. I like her blog but I hadn’t seen that post.

      Coffee is one of those things that people either like, or don’t. My parents don’t drink coffee at all. My grandpa told me the only coffee fit to drink was the kind that was “blacker than night, stronger than love, and hotter ‘n’ hell.” Which is how I drink my coffee usually. When it’s hot out I go for the iced version I wrote here, but I still don’t like adding any sugar. To each his own!

  1. Ah, the mystery of home-brewed iced coffee is solved! I always had the same problem… hot brewed coffee served cold was bitter! I thought it was because the cold coffee didn’t dissolve the sugar as well (because I am a wimp and ALWAYS add sugar and milk). I had been meaning to try adding the sugar while it was still hot, then letting it cool, but I was afraid the sugar would fall out of the solution when I chilled it in the refridgerator. Now I can try your method instead!


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