Whether you only drink iced coffee as a refreshing morning beverage in the summer, or if you’re a cold-drink-year-round kind of person like me, it’s a habit that can add up if you’re buying it at the coffee shop day after day. A typical iced coffee order will run you between $2 and $5, and with the purchase of a few pieces of equipment and supplies, you can easily — and deliciously — make it yourself at home.
Keep reading for our best tips, recipes, and strategies for brewing — and icing — the perfect cup of iced coffee to enjoy at home or bring along with you on the go. And no matter how you get your iced coffee, make sure to keep your hands dry and warm by carrying it around in an iced coffee sleeve from JavaSok.
How to Make Iced Coffee at Home
1. Decide which type of iced coffee you want to make.
Figuring out which type of iced coffee you want to make at home is the first step so you can get the right equipment and ingredients. There are a few different options, depending on what your morning coffee preference is:
A classic iced coffee refers to regularly-brewed coffee that’s chilled and poured over ice. To make this at home, you’ll need a coffee grinder, a coffee maker, a French press, or a pour-over coffee maker or a sealable pitcher to chill your coffee.
This type of coffee is perhaps the least complicated to make, requiring as little as regular coffee and ice to enjoy.
Cold Brew Iced Coffee
Cold brew iced coffee is stronger than regular coffee because of the way that it’s brewed: It’s made by grinding coffee beans and steeping them in water overnight, then straining the grounds to product the highest-intensity, cold-brewed coffee. To make this at home, you’ll need a coffee grinder, a sealable airtight container, a cheesecloth or reusable coffee filter, or a pitcher specifically designed for making cold brew.
Iced lattes are made with brewed espresso and steamed, froth milk — in fact, a latte is made up mostly of milk, so it might be a good option if you want a coffee that’s not as strong in flavor as a regular coffee. To make an iced latte, you’ll need an espresso maker or a kettle and a blender to brew the espresso and froth the milk to make this drink.
For very hot days — or if you really like smoothies — you could make an iced coffee frappe, which involves blending up coffee with lots of ice to make a smoothie-like texture and temperature. To make this drink, you’ll need the equipment to make your favorite form of coffee — such as a coffee maker, a French press, a cold brew pitcher, or a kettle — and a blender.
2. Get the right equipment.
Once you figure out the type of iced coffee you want to make, you need to purchase the right equipment if you don’t already own it. Wirecutter’s recommendations are how we usually make household appliance purchases, so here are its picks for a coffee grinder, a coffee maker, an espresso machine, a kettle, a pour-over coffee maker, a cold brew coffee maker, and a blender.
You could also consult the top-rated Amazon picks for a coffee grinder, a coffee maker, an espresso machine, a kettle, a pour-over coffee maker, a cold brew coffee maker, and a blender if you want to dig into customer reviews.
3. Buy delicious supplies.
Next up, get the supplies you need to make a delicious iced coffee. You’ll need some (or all) of the following ingredients:
Coffee Beans: Choose the right coffee or espresso beans to grind up to make your drink of choice. We suggest buying them from a coffee shop you already like — Dunkin’, Starbucks, Blue Bottle Coffee, Peet’s Coffee, Stumptown Coffee Roasters, and illy all sell coffee beans or grounds in-store and online for you to start with.
Cold Brew Concentrate: If you want to make cold brew iced coffee but don’t want to BIY (brew-it-yourself), you can purchase cold brew coffee concentrate to speed up the process from your local grocery store, coffee shop, or on Amazon.
Milk: If you want to dilute your iced coffee, make sure you have your preferred milk on-hand to add to your drink. We like adding oat milk to our iced latte, but regular milk, almond, soy, coconut, or cashew milks are other delicious options, depending on any preferences or restrictions you may have.
Sugar: If you have a sweet tooth and want to add sugar to your iced coffee, you’ll need to pick up some liquid sugar to add. (Regular cane or brown sugar evaporates in hot coffee, but not in iced coffee.) You could also use honey, agave, or maple syrup to sweeten your cold drink.
Toppings & Flavorings: Depending on your preferences, you may want to purchase flavored syrups (like caramel or chocolate), whipped cream, or cinnamon to add to your coffee.
4. Plan ahead.
One thing that’s almost always needed in order to successfully make iced coffee at home is plenty of time. By brewing coffee the night before and letting it cool in your refrigerator overnight, you’ll successfully cool it off without diluting it. Then, you can simply pour it, mix it up, and add nice — thereby saving you time and stress in the morning, too.
If you’re unable to make coffee ahead of time, we suggest making a double-batch of coffee, or adding cold brew concentrate, so melting ice doesn’t dilute your coffee’s flavor.
5. Make coffee-flavored ice cubes.
That said, if you do have to make coffee last minute, or if you know you like your iced coffee extra-strong, you can make coffee and pour it into your ice trays to add an extra boost of chill and caffeine to your drink.
6. Pour your coffee into the right cup and take it with you.
Once you’ve made your drink, choose the right travel tumbler or mug so you can take your iced coffee on the go with you. This thermos insulates your drink to keep it cold for a couple of hours, and this reusable coffee cup is stylish and helps you cut down on plastic waste. Then, make sure you pop your cup into a JavaSok iced coffee sleeve to keep your hands warm and your surfaces free of condensation.