What’s the Best Way to Make Iced Coffee at Home?
Words Erin Meister
There are two key ways to make the perfect iced coffee at home: cold brew or hot brew over ice. Both techniques are easy to master, but here’s how the recipes and preparation differ, as well as the right tools to help you master the job.
There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who love iced coffee so much they need it right now, and those who love iced coffee so much they’re willing to wait for it.
(OK, I guess there are also people who don’t care for iced coffee, but I like to think it’s just that they haven’t found the right brew yet.)
If you’re an undecided iced coffee lover, now’s a great time to weigh the pros and cons of the “cold-steeped brewing” technique known as cold brew and the “flash iced” technique known as hot brew over ice. Both techniques are easy and require very little fuss—especially when you have the right tools at home to help you along. These two methods are also endlessly adaptable to a variety of moods, tastes and situations.
How to Make a Cold-Brew Iced Coffee
Let’s start with cold brew, since we can let it do its magic while we seek other summer pleasures—while wearing plenty of sunscreen, of course.
Unlike pour-over or french press coffee, which both use hot water and take place over a shorter period of time, cold brew coffee is exactly what it sounds like: Coffee concentrate made with cool or room-temperature water, by means of a long steeping process. The cooler preparation method, as well as the fact that you can store this in the fridge for two weeks, are key reasons it’s a great style of iced coffee.
Finding the right cold-brew coffee maker is like finding the perfect one-pot recipe for a sweltering summer. The following step-by-step instructions explain how to brew a delicious coffee concentrate in the OXO Cold Brew Coffee Maker.
1. Flip the Brewing Container upside down and set the Mesh Filter so that it sits flat in base.
2. Screw on the filter cap until secure, then place the brewing container on the stand. Set the brew-release switch to the off (up) position.
3. Add 10 oz/284 grams coarsely ground coffee to the brewing container and place the rainmaker on top. If using an OXO Conical Burr Grinder, this will be 11-15 on the grind setting. We recommend weighing your coffee, but for reference, 10 oz is roughly 3.5 cups.
4. Pour 40 oz/1200 ml (5 cups) of water over the rainmaker in a circular motion, to ensure an even distribution. If your coffee is freshly ground, allow the coffee to finish “blooming.”
5. Remove the rainmaker and gently stir grounds. Let it brew at room temperature for 12-24 hours.
6. Once brewing is finished, slide the glass carafe underneath the stand. Press the brew-release switch down to drain. Draining will take approximately 20 minutes, but could vary based on ground size.
7. To enjoy your concentrate before draining is complete, pull out the glass carafe or flip up the brew-release switch to stop the drip.
8. Use a stopper to seal the glass carafe, and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
How to Make a Hot Brew Iced Coffee
If you’re struck with a need-it-now iced coffee emergency while your cold brew is steeping, don’t worry. Simply speaking, all this method requires is a quick modification to your standard hot coffee recipe. Instead of brewing a full batch of hot coffee, you’ll just replace about half the amount of water you’d normally use with the equivalent amount of ice—easily done in a drip coffee maker.
Follow our step-by-step instructions for how to make a hot brew over ice coffee at home (this will make 9-cups):
1. Pour 25 ounces of water into your coffee-maker’s reservoir tank
2. Add one tray’s worth of ice to the bottom of your maker’s carafe.
3. Brew coffee as you normally would.
4. When it’s done brewing, you should have a nicely chilled carafe full of perfectly diluted iced coffee, ready to pour into a nice tall glass and sip immediately.
For an extra treat, add simple syrup to the ice cube trays before you put them into the freezer, or freeze cubes of cream to brew a kind of instant iced au lait. You can also use leftovers to make coffee ice cubes so your drink will stay cool and strong. (Be sure to clean your carafe extra well before the next brew.)
*Weight is more precise, so a grinder that weighs your coffee is absolutely ideal, but scoops are fine in a pinch. Each scoop is about 8 grams of coffee, so get out those calculators!
Simple Iced Coffee Ingredient Variations
The perfect iced coffee is one that exactly hits your sweet spot. With just a few recipe tweaks and additions, you can create a custom drink that fits the occasion—perhaps a barbecue or summer cocktail party. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Add ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract.
- Add whisky and stir in simple syrup and cream for an adult poolside treat.
- Use it in baking for muffins or brownies with a kick!
Elevate your drink even further with a few iced coffee recipe tweaks, such as cutting it with chocolate milk for something like an iced mocha, using lavender simple syrup, and more.