Coffee on its own has come a long way over the past 10-15 years and iced coffee has become very popular in the UK and Europe. So, too, has cold brew. Iced coffee and cold brew are mostly popular in the sunnier climates but have rightly found a place in many homes because of their versatility and refreshing taste, no matter what the weather. Plus, iced coffee is a very Instagrammable drink and easy to make. But there are ways of brewing it properly, which make all the difference, and here’s how to do it.
What’s the difference between iced coffee and cold brew?
With iced coffee, the coffee is usually prepared with hot water first and then cooled. When you make coffee using hot water, it oxidises and degrades much more and does it faster.
Cold Brew uses cold or room-temperature water to brew the coffee, which gives a different quality to the flavour because it’s less soluble than brewing it in hot water. This means it's a slower process than iced coffee but by increasing the time at which you're ‘extracting’ or ‘brewing’, you maximise the solubility of the coffee grounds. So a proper ‘cold brew’ coffee can take a little longer to prepare but it’s worth it.
When using a cold brew method, you’ll often find the acidity and bitterness of the coffee is lower. This is one of the reasons I love drinking strong, straight-up cold brew over ice to dilute. Both cold brew and hot coffee cooled down can be used to make iced coffee.
Making cold brew at home is very simple and just requires a little prep the day or night before you want to drink it. Here are some good products to help with this process.
Iced coffee makers
Or a simple cafetière (here are my favourites)
How to make iced coffee
Iced coffee recipe
- Add a generous amount of ice to a glass. Pour 30-50ml hot double espresso over the ice – espresso from an espresso machine or a capsule espresso works well, too.
- Top with your choice of milk or plant-based alternative (see below for recommendations).
Made with cooled-down filter coffee
- Make a strong 250-300ml pour over/filter coffee (use 25g coffee instead of 18g – it will dilute slightly with the ice). Let it cool to room temperature or put it in the refrigerator.
- Once cool, add a generous amount of ice to a glass. Add the strong filtered coffee.
- Drink it black or add 2-4 tbsp milk or plant-based alternative. If you like it sweet, add some simple syrup.
Melitta UK do a great, affordable pour over set and accessories.
How to make cold brew iced coffee
I like to make my cold brew a little stronger (double the recipe if you want a larger quantity – 80-100g coffee per 1 litre water).
- Put 40g medium to coarse ground fresh coffee in a cafetière or mason jar.
- Add 500ml cold or room temperature water (filtered if possible). Cover and leave in the refrigerator overnight or for 12-24 hours.
- The next day, filter the coffee. If you’re using a cafetière, press the filter down slowly. Or pass the coffee through a paper filter to make it really clean.
- Put a generous handful of ice in a glass. Pour your cold brew coffee over the ice.
To drink it black
- Add a generous handful of ice to a glass.
- Pour in your desired amount of cold brew coffee. If it’s too strong, give it a few stirs and let the ice dilute the coffee, or add some cold water to the glass.
- If you like some milk, add 2tsp to take the edge off and to create a beautiful marbled effect.
To make it milky
- Add a generous amount of ice to a glass.
- Add 50ml strong cold brew coffee.
- Add 200ml of your choice of milk or plant-based alternative.
How to make vegan iced coffee
Coffee is vegan, so rest assured that with these plant-based alternatives you won’t miss out on that great milky iced latte again. The brands below are specifically for barista-style coffees, so they’re a little thicker and creamier to steam up but they taste great cold, too.
Oat milk – this is my preferred dairy-free alternative to drink with coffee. I recommend Oatly’s oat milk or Minor Figures oat milk. Oatly has quite a thick, full-mouth feel, it’s a little heavier in viscosity, while Minor Figures is slightly lighter and brighter – it’s also made here in the UK. It depends on your preference. Minor Figures Oat goes really well with darker coffee roasts but I love both.
Spelt milk – Sharpham Park Organic Spelt Barista Drink. This is new on the market and is high in fibre and protein.
Coconut milk – Alpro barista. I like the flavour of coffee with coconut milk. It’s a little softer, nutty without the nuts and combines nicely with coffee.
Pea-protein milk – Sproud Barista pea-protein milk. This is a good alternative for those looking for a low-carb, diary-free option.
Baileys iced coffee
Baileys goes so well with coffee and milk and is a winner at any dinner or party. The coffee balances out the sweetness of the Baileys and it’s great served hot or cold. You may want to try the recipe below shaken in a cocktail shaker if you like it really cold, strained into a cocktail glass or just build it up as I’ve done. Building a Baileys iced coffee is super easy and looks great. Baileys also has a vegan version, so if you use your favourite plant-based milk, you’ll be able to enjoy a completely vegan drink.
- 150-200ml strong filter coffee or cold brew (see above recipe)
- 50ml Baileys Irish Cream liqueur
- 50ml milk or plant-based alternative (optional)
- Fill a glass with ice.
- Pour the cold, strong filter coffee or cold brew coffee into the glass.
- Add 50ml Baileys Irish Cream liqueur.
- Stir and enjoy (or add 30-50ml milk, if you like).
Indulgent iced mocha coffee
Mocha combines coffee and chocolate, usually served hot with latte-style milk, and is a great gateway into the world of coffee. It was definitely my entry into coffee when I was a teen. I love how a mocha coffee can be dressed up with cream, and how the chocolate and coffee balance out each other almost perfectly. It’s a classic combination.
When I first started working in a café in New Zealand many years ago, my bosses called the mochaccino a ‘Borgia’ on the menu. They told me that it meant ‘to poison’… to poison a coffee with chocolate… Today I still love and laugh (with fondness) at their purist attitude. This recipe, however, is going to take it one step further, not only making it iced but even more decadent with ice cream!
- 30ml chocolate sauce (the sauce can be made by dissolving 3-4 tsp chocolate powder and mixing into 30ml boiled water. Alternatively, you can use shop-bought chocolate sauce or slightly water down chocolate or hazelnut spread with boiled water.)
- a small handful of ice
- 30ml strong espresso
- 1 generous scoop of chocolate or espresso ice cream (optional)
- 150-200ml milk or plant-based alternative
- Add the chocolate sauce to a glass and also smear it around the sides. Add ice (don’t fill it – add just enough to cover the bottom and cool the drink).
- Pour the espresso over the ice to flash cool. Add a scoop of chocolate or espresso ice cream, if you like.
- Slowly add your choice of milk or dairy-free alternative to fill to the top of the glass.
- Stir with a spoon and enjoy.
Iced matcha latte
Matcha is made by grinding down young green tea leaves into a fine powder and it’s said to have many health benefits, making matcha tea very popular. Combining it with the antioxidants and energy- boosting strength of coffee creates a super power drink! I find having milk mixed with matcha and coffee softens any acidity and takes the edge off any overpowering flavours. It’s a great drink to make at home.
- 1 tsp matcha powder, dissolved and mixed with a third of a cup of hot water
- a large handful of ice
- 150-200ml milk or plant-based alternative
- 30ml strong espresso
- Prepare the matcha. Once cooled, add it to a glass. Add the ice (swirl it around in the glass a little to cool the matcha).
- Add the milk or plant-based alternative on top – use the back of a spoon to layer it on top of the matcha.
- Top with the espresso. You should have something that resembles a traffic light.