Ultimate Guide on How to Make Iced Coffee and Cold Brew Coffee

Iced coffee is one of the hottest trends in coffee, but you may not always feel like popping down to the coffee shop – or spending coffee shop prices, to get an iced coffee. Fortunately, you can learn how to make iced coffee at home.

How to make iced coffee

There are many different types of iced coffee, and there’s really no best way to make coffee. Instead, you’ll want to try out some methods and find the one you like the best. If you’re searching for “coffee near me” right now, read on to learn how to make iced coffee.

Origins of Iced Coffee

We tend to think of cold coffee as a new trend that’s appeared in the last couple of decades, but you can trace its origins back to 1840. A drink known as Mazagran was invented in Argentina around this time. It was made with coffee syrup and cold water and was served chilled.

While variations of ice coffee popped up over the 20th century, the drink didn’t rise in popularity until the turn of the 21st century, when iced coffee started showing up in coffee shops and at fast-food restaurants like Dunkin’ Donuts.

What You’ll Need to Make Iced Coffee

Ingredients for iced coffee

If you’re making a simple iced coffee, you won’t need much. You just need to know how to make coffee. You’ll need to gather:

  • Coffee pot
  • Tall glass
  • Ice (or coffee ice)
  • Cream of choice
  • Long spoon
  • Sweetener of choice (if desired)

Of course, if you choose to make one of the more complicated iced coffees we’ll get into below, you’d need more equipment and ingredients. But these few items will allow you to make a good glass of iced coffee that does the job on most occasions.

How to Make Iced Coffee

Pouring milk on ice

There are several ways to make iced coffee. One of the most simple iced coffee recipes involves using coffee you’ve brewed in a regular coffee pot. Start by brewing a pot of your favorite type of coffee. You can brew it weak or strong, based on your preference. Wait until the coffee has cooled to room temperature before continuing.

Get a tall glass and fill it all the way up with ice. If you want to be extra, you can freeze some of your coffee in an ice cube tray and use it instead of regular ice. Unless you drink your coffee exceptionally fast, your ice is bound to melt and water down your coffee. By making coffee into ice, your coffee will have a consistent taste from the first to the last sip. You’ll then pour your coffee over the ice. Leave a little room at the top for cream.

You have several options when it comes to creamer. You can go with heavy cream or “half and half” if you want something indulgent. You can use milk if you don’t want as much fat; whole milk down to nonfat will work. Add a sweetener if you prefer sweet coffee and stir everything together with a long spoon.

What’s the Difference Between Iced Coffee and Cold Brew?

Cold brew coffee bottle

You’ve probably heard people talking about cold brew in the past few years. While many people use the terms iced coffee and cold brew coffee interchangeably, there’s a difference between the two. Iced coffee is typically made with coffee that has been brewed in a regular coffee pot and starts hot. You then chill the coffee or wait until it’s cooled.

When making the best cold brew coffee, you brew the coffee in chilled water, so it’s already cool. It takes much longer to make a cold brew coffee recipe, as the coffee will need to steep for 12 hours. There are also some subtle differences in taste. Cold brew coffee is less acidic than traditionally brewed coffee. The cold-brew flavor tends to be a little smoother and less bitter.

Cold brew coffee has one significant advantage over iced coffee. Cold-brew is stronger, so it won’t get as watered-down as your ice melts. It’s not necessary to make coffee ice cubes with cold brew.

How to Make Cold Brew Coffee

Making cold brew coffee

No ultimate guide to making iced coffee would be complete without instructions for how to make a cold brew. Many people say they want to make iced coffee, but since the types are used interchangeably, they may be referring to cold brew. Read on to learn how to make cold brew at home.

Instructions for Cold Brew Coffee

Follow the instructions below for DIY cold brew coffee.

  • Gather your ingredients and equipment. You don’t need an iced coffee maker, but you’ll need a coffee grinder if you want to use fresh beans and get a richer taste. You’ll also need a large container for steeping the coffee and a strainer.
  • Coarsely grind a cup of your favorite coffee beans. There’s no one best coffee for cold brew, as it will come down to your preference, but many people make a case for darker roasts.
  • Put the coffee in four cups of cold water in a large container, stir, and cover. (The cold brew coffee ratio is 1:4, so you can adjust the cold brew recipe as needed.) Allow it to steep for 12 hours.
  • Place cheesecloth in a strainer and strain the water into a container.
  • Your cold brew is now ready. You can pour over ice or chill. You can also add creamer or other sweeteners to your taste.


There are a few other things to consider when making coffee, either iced or cold brew.

Using a Keurig

If you’re wondering how to make iced coffee with a Keurig, the process is simple. Just use the Keurig to brew your coffee and follow the iced coffee recipe above.

Other Flavors

If you want to jazz up your iced coffee, you may want to make an iced mocha or an iced vanilla latte. To make these, simply add some chocolate syrup or vanilla to your taste. Feel free to get creative with your iced coffee recipes and try new flavor combinations.

Final Thoughts

A tall glass of iced coffee

If cold coffee isn’t really your thing, you may also consider making a latte, cappuccino, whipped coffee or a simple pour over coffee. However, making homemade iced coffee or the cold brew coffee are easy. Follow our simple steps and try different variations until you find your favorite. Then, enjoy your coffee on a hot day!

Photo of author


Coffee aficionado Ryan Bahar is the Editor-in-Chief at CoffeeGrabber.com. While most people love a good morning cup of joe, only a few can appreciate the art involved in grinding coffee beans, taste the difference between coffee from Ethiopia to Guatemala to Colombia, or identify terrible coffee products dressed up with fancy marketing. Ryan wants to use his coffee expertise to bring you the most authentic coffee tips, guides and reviews on the web.

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