Want the Perfect Iced Coffee? Try Cold-Brewing.

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In my neck of the sorta-northern U. S. woods, it’s common to see the flip flops come out when the outside thermometer reaches 60 degrees. While I don’t follow this particular footwear routine, I do have a similar mantra concerning weather and coffee: “60 degrees means iced coffee!”

But the thing about iced coffee, as obtained from a proper coffee establishment, is that it’s expensive. Maybe I’m overly thrifty, but having to pay up to a dollar more to have someone add ice to a cup of coffee is perplexing. So over the years I’ve tried to make my own…without much success. I tried brewing my normal coffee, letting it cool, and adding ice, but that never cut it. The coffee always ended up tasting weak and watered down. I tried brewing exceptionally strong coffee – espresso and French roasts. The results were better, but since I’m not a fan of dark roasts generally, I never found the tastes of these brews appealing. I tried k-cups that were supposedly designed to make iced coffee. They weren’t. (Quite the sham they are.) I eventually gave up on the notion of ever making great iced coffee at home. That is until I discovered cold-brewed coffee.

As I’ve come to discover, cold brewing produces an amazing cup of coffee. The process removes much of coffee’s inherent bitterness and acidity and leaves you with coffee that’s rich, bold, and very smooth. Best of all, because the resulting coffee is so concentrated, it requires some dilution, which occurs anyway with iced coffee, what with all the melting ice. Despite this, the taste remains as wonderful as a full-strength cup o’ joe.

The Internet is full of recipes for cold-brewed coffee/iced coffee, and here’s one more. It’s so very simple, if a little time consuming. Fair warning, my recipe here is specifically based on using an 11-ounce bag of ground coffee, the size of which is most prevalent in my grocery stores. (A good bit of trial and error was involved here as a lot of recipes call for 10 or 12 ounces of coffee, and you’d be surprised how much that makes a difference in the final results.)

The perfect cold-brewed iced coffee

For the coffee concentrate:
  • One 11-ounce bag of course ground coffee
  • 6 2/3 cups of cold water
  • A fridge-safe container large enough to hold 7-8 cups
  • Another fridge-safe container that holds at least 1.5 quarts
  • For straining, a fine mesh sieve, cheesecloth and/or coffee filters
  • A funnel

In a sealable container (one that’ll fit in your fridge and hold at least 8 cups), pour in the ground coffee and then the water. Stir the mixture until all the grounds are incorporated. (If you’re using a bottle-type container, shake vigorously, with the cap on, of course.) Put the container in the fridge and let it rest for at least 10 hours but not more than 14. (I’ve read that this time frame is the optimal. I’ve not tried it longer for longer than 14 hours – too scared to waste more coffee than I already have!)

After brewing, it’s time to strain out the grounds. Line your sieve with 1-2 coffee filters or several layers of cheesecloth, place it in the top of properly sized funnel, and then place your funnel into whatever container will hold the concentrate. Working in small batches, and replacing the filters or cheesecloth when needed, strain the concentrate from the grounds into the new container. (With waiting for a batch of liquid/grounds to strain out, this process took about 45 minutes, and I came away with about 1.25 quarts of concentrate. Your results may vary.)

To make iced coffee:
  • 1/2 cup of liquid gold, i.e. the coffee concentrate
  • 6 ounces of cold water
  • 1-2 ounces of cream, half-and-half, or milk
    (If you like your coffee sweet, a dash of simple syrup would do the trick.)

Pour all the ingredients into a tall glass filled with ice, stir, and enjoy. If my ratios don’t work for you, simply adjust the dilution. Once you have the concentrate made, the rest is really up to your taste buds!


While Cary’s happy to talk food here, she’s also pretty good at doling out words about video games at United We Game while simultaneously maintaining her own blog, Recollections of Play. You can also find an archive of fun, geeky articles from her and like-minded souls at Geek Force Network.