While many of us might believe iced coffee is something of a marketing fad popularized by our coffee shops, ice coffee is older than you might think. The history suggests it’s been around since at least the middle of the nineteenth century.
Iced Coffee: A Potted History
There’s one theory that suggests that iced coffee, more or less as we know it today, originated in Algeria, round about 1840, known by the name mazagran, a delicious combination of coffee syrup and cold water. In many parts of Europe and North Africa, this drink is still available. The nineteenth-century also brought us “café frappé à la glace”, or, literally, whipped coffee with ice.
In 1920, the Joint Coffee Trade Publicity Committee of the United States ran an advertisement for iced coffee. By the time World War Two broke out, iced coffee was an acceptable, popular choice of everyday beverage, as the history of coffee advertising shows.
Many major coffee shop chains are vying with each other to be the most popular or the most unusual. Frappuccinos and frappés are almost passé for some baristas: it’s now all about the herbs, the spices, and the local ingredients.
For us, it’s the combination of the slightly unexpected that makes iced coffee so special. We love that dark, luxurious, decadent, bitter-tasting syrup, made more palatable when diluted with just the right amount of water, and perhaps with a little syrup, sugar, cream or milk added too.
Perfect Iced Coffee
Everyone has their own idea of how a perfect iced coffee should taste. You could, of course, just make a cup of your favorite brew, in your Keurig or another coffee maker, as usual, and pour it over ice cubes.
While you will attain a cold drink of some description that way, it’s not quite what we’d describe as the perfect iced coffee. To begin with, the ice will dilute the coffee rather more than you might realize.
So what other options are there?
You have two main choices when it comes to whipping up the perfect iced coffee: cold brew and pour-over. Whichever method you use, making the perfect iced coffee will take a little longer than making a hot coffee.
What Type Of Coffee And Ice Should I Use?
You might not realize it, but you can buy coffee blends that are specially geared towards summer coffee drinks. Many of these summer blends are robust and fruity, with blends from Ethiopia and Africa amongst the most popular.
Ideally, we would recommend using a coffee variety grown in a drier climate to give that perfect taste of summer. Of course, you can always use one of your favorite autumn, winter or spring blends, and add chopped berries, apricots or dates to ice cubes to give your final beverage that summery twist.
So much will depend on what you have to hand as well as, obviously, your personal taste, but you can choose from ice cubes, shaved ice, or crushed ice.
Use your imagination when it comes to ice – of course, you can just use plain water, the fresher and softer the better. For a little extra zing, add a dash of ginger, cinnamon, chili, nutmeg or vanilla, or even add a few berries, or freeze evaporated or condensed milk. Here’s a thought: you could even freeze already brewed coffee.
How To Make Iced Coffee (Step-By-Step)
Assuming you’ve chosen your coffee blend, your ice is ready to go, and you know how you’re going to serve your drinks, we’d suggest the following approach.
How To Make Ice Coffee – Pour Over Method
If you’re in a hurry, you can make homemade iced coffee very quickly via the pour-over method. Essentially, you substitute ice cubes for a portion of the water you’d use in the traditional hot brew method.
One of the main differences is that the coarse ground coffee essential for a good cold brew is not find enough for the pour-over method, so choose a more finely ground blend.
It will take around 4 minutes to brew an iced coffee using the pour-over method. Boil your water as usual, in a kettle, for example, and let it cool a little. Pour a small amount of the hot water over the coffee in the filter or cone and leave it to brew for about a minute. After about three minutes or so, pour the rest of the water over the grounds, taking care to make sure it doesn’t bubble over the cone.
Once you have your coffee ready, drink it as soon as possible.
Best Cold Brew Coffee Recipes – A Few Ideas
Cold-brew is used by many smaller coffee shops to make their iced coffee. The key to making a really good DIY cold brew coffee is experimentation and being open to new ideas, as is the case with so much else when it comes to food and drinks recipes. Here are a few ideas for cold-brew ingredients that we’ve tried and really like.
The ideal cold brew coffee ratio, based on scientific research (or at least, tfhe lived experience of hundreds of thousands of coffee drinkers around the world) is 1 part coffee to 4.5 parts water at room temperature, or even better, ice-cold from the fridge.
Add your coffee grounds to the water, and leave in the fridge for around 12 hours (overnight is good). Then strain the mixture through a French press, filter paper, muslin or cheesecloth to obtain your coffee concentrate.
You can now incorporate spices, flavorings and other additives to taste, including a pinch or two of ginger, chili powder, cinnamon or nutmeg; a couple of teaspoonfuls of vanilla, caramel or cherry syrup; sugar to taste; and condensed or evaporated milk, soya milk, almond milk, rice milk, oat milk, or other milks to suit you.
Tools Needed To Make Iced Coffee
We’ve all heard that saying about a bad worker blaming their tools, but we all know that success often depends on having the right tools for the job. They don’t necessarily have to be top of the range or ultra-expensive, but they do need to be appropriate for the task in hand.
So, what kit do you need to whip up an utterly irresistible iced coffee?
Fun Accessories For Iced Coffee
One of the most important considerations is how you’re going to store your coffee. We’d definitely suggest a glass carafe rather than any other material. It keeps your liquids cool, and you can usually store it in the fridge very safely. And quite apart from everything else, it looks really attractive.
Nice ceramic mugs are another good option (or metal, with or without an insulating sleeve) to help your drink stay as cold as possible for as long as possible. We also love our super-secret weapon in the quest to make quick cold brew coffee – yes, a cocktail maker has recently mysteriously added itself to the collection of accessories in the kitchen.
What shape ice cubes should you select? If you’re not going to go for one of the fun shapes now available, then perfectly square is a good choice for ice. Or at least choose a shape with plenty of edges – they take a little longer to melt, usually, based on our observations.
If you know you’re pretty much always going to be using the pour-over method for your iced coffee, then you might want to invest in a dedicated cone, with the correct sized filter papers or reusable filter.
How To Make Cold Brew Coffee At Home – Our Top Tips
Here, then, are our top five tips to make the best homemade cold brew coffee.
#1 Choose the right beans – a strong, rich, fruity blend is likely to work best.
Make sure the beans are ground correctly for maximum flavor: coarsely for the cold brew method and more finely for the pour-over method.
While the ratio of coffee to water depends on taste, 1 part coffee to 4.5 parts liquid works well.
#2 Have your ice ready.
#3 Use the freshest water possible.
#4 Use a glass carafe to prepare the brew and a ceramic or steel cup to serve.
#5 Don’t be frightened to try new spices and flavors with your coffee.
After all that, sit back, relax, and enjoy!
Hi my name is Larry, a coffee aficionado and passionate traveler from the US. I have already visited Colombia, Sumatra, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Ethiopia and Jamaica in my pursuit of finding the best-tasting coffee beans that make you feel like you are in heaven. I currently write from Bali and enjoy the relaxed life that you can find only in Indonesia. Welcome to my coffee world!