Cold coffee is a real treat on those hot sticky summer mornings when you really need something to cool you down. If you often order iced coffee from your local coffee shop you’ll be aware of how quickly the costs can add up.
I too used to be a slave to the barista as I just figured iced coffee was a luxury drink recipe and too difficult to try at home. When I discovered how easy and cheap it can be to make an iced americano from the comfort of my own home I couldn’t believe how much money I has wasted over the years!
An iced americano is super easy to make at home and only requires three ingredients. Ice, cold water, and strong brewed coffee. Mix these together and there you have it!
To find out more about iced coffee and how you can make this yourself read on. You’ll be a cold coffee expert and never have to waste another dollar on expensive caffeination ever again!
What Is Iced Coffee?
Iced coffee, as sold in your local coffee shop is hot brewed coffee, served over ice. The coffee used is nearly always espresso as this has a strong flavor that stands up well when served over ice cubes. Topped up with cold water this gives an iced americano coffee or if you add cold milk it becomes an iced latte.
Iced coffee is a popular choice as it’s quick and easy for the barista to make but can also be sold in bottles and cans in grocery stores or even online from Amazon. It has gained popularity thanks to chain outlets like Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, and Burger King.
It’s actually a relatively simple coffee drink to make and there are a few different ways to go about doing this. Iced coffee drinks are accessible to all coffee lovers and are the perfect treat to cool you down on a hot summer’s day.
Iced Coffee vs Cold Brew?
There is sometimes a bit of confusion around iced coffee and cold brew and whether or not these are the same drink. The quick answer is they’re not. Iced coffee is hot coffee served cold over ice and cold brew is coffee that’s been brewed cold.
When you brew coffee it takes a few factors to allow the delicious flavors to escape from the beans and dissolve into the water. First, you need to grind up the beans to give ground coffee. This exposes a larger surface of the coffee to the water and allows the flavors to dissolve.
The next element needed is heat. Hot water speeds up the physical process so it only takes 2-4 minutes. For cold brew, cold water is used so this dramatically slows down the extraction phase. This means you need to leave the coffee brewing for 12-24 hours to get the same effect as hot brewing.
The benefit of cold coffee brewing is you get a wider array of sweet, aromatic flavors and less burnt, bitter, and acidic tastes. Iced coffee can run the risk of turning bitter due to the hot brew method but this can be avoided if care is taken.
To make iced coffee you don’t need to wait as long but you do need to understand your chosen brew method if you want it to turn out well.
Making the Perfect Espresso
Espresso coffee is the perfect choice for brewing iced coffee as it doesn’t end up tasting thin and watered down when the ice melts. To make true espresso you really need an Espresso Maker but these machines can be pricey. There are a variety of alternative options you can choose from if you don’t have this kind of coffee maker and we will cover these next.
An espresso machine is the only way to brew a shot of espresso with a truly thick crema. These are the machines you see baristas using at coffee shops and restaurants. If you love espresso drinks then it’s well worth investing in one of these for your home.
To start with you’ll need fresh coffee beans that have been ground to a fine grind size. The precise grind setting will depend on the machine used as well as the kind of coffee.
For a single shot espresso you will need around 7-9g of coffee and for a double shot you’ll need 14-18g. The coffee should be scooped into the filter basket, gently leveled out and then tamped down to form a solid puck.
It’s a good idea to pre-heat your machine beforehand and it’s always advisable to flush some water through the system once it has warmed up. This acts to remove any stale water from the pipes and also helps to pre-heat the brew head.
Fix the portafilter in place and brew your espresso over 25-30 seconds. It should be thick in texture, like syrup or melted honey, and have a thick crema on top that quickly reforms if you break it with a spoon.
You should brew your espresso in a shot glass before pouring it over ice so you can assess the quality easily, and repeat if necessary.
Also known as a stovetop espresso maker, these little devices can make brewing iced coffee at home a much more affordable option. They are inexpensive to buy, easy to maintain, and will last for many years if looked after well. They use steam pressure to brew espresso-like coffee and work using an external heat source like a stovetop.
They use a medium-fine grind of coffee that’s a bit coarser than espresso but not as coarse as drip coffee. This is added to the filter basket and is gently leveled out with your finger or a spoon, never tamped.
The lower chamber of the pot is filled with water to just below the air intake valve and the whole device is assembled. Hot water can be used for this step but take care when assembling the pot as it can be dangerous and risks burning your hands.
Place the pot on a medium heat, open the lid, and keep an eye on it. When the spout starts emitting light colored steam close the lid. You should hear the coffee spurting out very soon after this and that’s your signal to remove the device from the heat.
Run the lower portion of the pot under cold water to end the brewing cycle. This helps prevent a bitter, metallic taste ending up in the coffee.
Now you have a bold cup of coffee that can be used to make your iced americano.
An automatic espresso machine like the Classy Mini by Lavazza or the Vertuo Plus by Nespresso can also be used to brew espresso like coffee at home. These machines are really easy to use and save a lot of time and effort. The downside is, they don’t brew ‘true espresso’ as you would get from an espresso machine and the capsules are expensive and wasteful.
If you don’t have any of these options to hand then you can still make iced coffee it just wont be as rich as your typical iced americano. You can use a french press to brew a stronger than usual cup.
At a push you can also use a good quality, instant powder, ideally an espresso blend like this Nescafe Gold Espresso.
Keep it Chilly
To cool your hot coffee, it has to be poured over ice. This is why it’s recommended to brew the coffee stronger than usual so that the ice doesn’t water it down. If you want an extra kick of caffeine then you can always brew your favorite coffee the day before, let it cool down and add it to an ice cube tray. Freeze it overnight and then you’ll have coffee ice cubes.
This helps avoid watering down the flavor but do be mindful of how much caffeine you’re adding to your cup, especially if you are sensitive to it.
An iced americano can be transformed with ease into many other coffee recipes by the simple addition of various ingredients.
If you find this coffee a bit too bitter then adding a sweetener of choice can really help. If you’re adding a cube of sugar, it’s best to do so when the coffee is hot to help it dissolve. Vanilla syrup can be a really nice addition or you can use chocolate syrup to create a mocha.
Milk or creamers can also be added to help sweeten the coffee. If you prefer a latte then just top the coffee up with cold milk rather than adding water to it.
Iced Americano Recipe
Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Total Time: 5 Minutes
- 2 Oz Espresso or Strong Brewed Coffee
- 6 Oz Cold Water
- 1 Cup Ice Cubes (pebble ice gives a nice effect)
Place a tall glass in the freezer 20 minutes prior to making this
Brew your coffee using any of the methods discussed above and stir in sugar if using
Add a cup of ice to the cold glass
Pour the espresso over the ice
Top it up with hot water
Add any extras you like (syrups or creamers)
Don’t forget to film the glass as the milk mixes with the coffee and ice in a cascade effect, perfect for social media
Stir with a straw or drink stirrer