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How to Make Iced Coffee

Great For
Convenient & Easy Brewing • Nuanced, Bright Flavors • Pour Over or Drip Coffee Makers

Simply put, iced coffee means any way to brew cold coffee that doesn’t involve espresso. Making cold brew, therefore, is making iced coffee. Brewing hot coffee and letting it sit in the fridge is also iced coffee. But our favorite method of making iced coffee is flash brewing.

Flash brewing (or flash-chilled coffee) is the process of brewing coffee directly onto ice. This simple brewing process cools the coffee, making it both convenient and helping the coffee taste less stale, which can happen while coffee cools to room temperature. Because ice dilutes coffee, our recipe uses less brewing water to maintain the coffee’s flavor, taste, and caffeine strength as the ice melts. And since you’re not using cold water (which has trouble breaking down some of the roast’s flavor compounds), flash brewing ends up tasting brighter than cold brewing.

Whether you prefer the control of a pour over or the convenience of a drip coffee maker, we have a recipe for how to make iced coffee that is both delicious and easy.

Let's Get Started
Measure Ice
1. Measure Ice

Weigh out ice cubes in your Chemex (this recipe works for any pour over brewer with slight adjustments. Water flows relatively slowly through Chemex filters, so pour slower with a Kalita Wave, for example). Because ice shapes vary, a scale helps, but if you don’t own one, just fill your Chemex until the top of the cubes reaches a little higher than the level your finished hot brew would usually reach.

Bloom Coffee
2. Bloom Coffee

Place the coffee filter into your brewer and pour the coffee grinds in. Start your timer, and pour 80 grams of just off-boiling water, or just enough to evenly saturate the grinds. Wait 45 seconds. We call this period the bloom, as the boiling water helps release the built up carbon dioxide in the coffee so that the rest of our water can really get in there and dissolve the flavor compounds.

Pour Slowly
3. Pour Slowly

Start slowly pouring water, from the center of your coffee grounds out, trying to wet all the grinds evenly. Remember, we’re only using half the water we usually would for brewing hot coffee, but we don’t want to take half as long, so pouring slowly is key, but you’ll want to get all your water in at around 2.5 minutes. Here’s how to accomplish that:

  • Pour up to 150 grams, and let the water drip down until it’s right above the coffee grounds.
  • Pour about 25 more grams, let it drip down again
  • Pour again until you’ve gotten all your water in
Let It Drip
4. Let It Drip

Wait until all the coffee drips through, melting all or most of the ice, pour into a tall glass (or your preferred vessel) and enjoy!

Measure Ingredients
5. Measure Ingredients

Pour 300 grams of water into your drip coffee maker’s water reservoir, and place 300 grams of ice into your carafe. If your brewer has a hot plate that you can turn off, turn it off (if you can’t it’s not the end of the world).

Next, add your grounds into the filter as you would when making standard drip coffee.

Brew Coffee
6. Brew Coffee

Hit the brew button and let your machine do the work. Pour the flash-chilled coffee into your vessel of choice and enjoy your delicious iced coffee!

While we’ve provided specific amounts of coffee, ice, and water, it is exceedingly simple to brew iced coffee with any pour over or automatic drip device that you would brew hot coffee with. Just use the same amount of coffee you usually use, half the amount brewing water, and fill your tall glass with ice a little higher than it usually ends up filled with brewed coffee.

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Our coffee expert says

When does iced coffee go bad?

The question of when iced coffee goes bad is fairly subjective. Bad as in actually unhealthy to drink? If you refrigerate your pot of coffee it can last a few weeks and it’ll be totally fine (and if you think “if you refrigerate your coffee” is a silly qualifier, because who wouldn’t refrigerate iced coffee, let me tell you from experience that refrigerator space in some small coffee shops is often at a premium). Bad as in worse-tasting than coffee cups enjoyed immediately after brewing? Well, as soon as your coffee is done, two undesirable things start happening. Oxidation (the same process that turns your bananas brown) hits, eventually making the coffee taste stale and disagree with your taste buds. Also chlorogenic acid in the coffee starts breaking down, turning into other more bitter acids that make your coffee taste off. Flash brewing, which cools your coffee immediately, slows these processes down somewhat, but after a few days you’ll be tasting the difference in your coffee cups. So try not to brew more coffee than you need for a few days and store it in an airtight container, and your odds of the freshly brewed coffee remaining delicious increase greatly.

Can I use leftover coffee for iced coffee?

So you’ve brewed a pot of coffee and didn’t finish it, can you throw it in the fridge and drink it cold the next morning? Heck yes you can use that chilled coffee to make iced coffee! Regardless of which brewing process you used to make it or the roast level you prefer, warm or hot coffee slowly cooled down will taste a little more stale and those flavor notes might not shine quite as much as they do in flash-brewed coffee. But if you’re already brewing hot coffee, refrigerating it in an airtight container until the next morning is super-easy and less wasteful, so you should absolutely use leftover coffee from the fridge!

What is Vietnamese iced coffee?

Vietnamese coffee has become increasingly popular in the US over the last few years, with the iced version especially capturing the imagination of every coffee drinker who likes their coffee extra bold, sweet, and creamy. As a drink, Vietnamese coffee (whether iced or hot) usually refers to dark roast coffee brewed in a small metal pour over device called a phin and then combined with ingredients like sweetened condensed milk for a creamy consistency.

In traditional Vietnamese culture, freshly brewed hot coffee is enjoyed during the morning while iced coffee (known as Cà Phê Sữa Đá) is saved for warm afternoons and evenings. Vietnamese coffee drinks are a staple in Vietnamese culture and can typically be found in any traditional or modern Vietnamese coffee shop. Interestingly, while many Vietnamese coffee shops and baristas in the US serve a coffee and chicory combo, that seems to be a Vietnamese-American trend, not a traditional Vietnamese one. If you have a phin, making Vietnamese iced coffee is as simple as any other pour over. Whether utilizing chicory flavor notes, straight Vietnamese coffee, or any other kinds of roast, brewing them in a phin (ideally as a double-strength concentrate), pouring that over ice, and then pouring in some sweetened condensed milk will get you a super-rich, sweet and creamy cold beverage, more or less the opposite of a flash-brewed coffee in taste, but delightful in its own way (especially as a delicious summer treat!).