Are you stepping out for coffee every morning? It’s easy to hit up your local coffee shops in search of a winning iced coffee, but why splurge on a daily basis when you can make one at home? All too often, coffee drinkers think a barista-made iced coffee is far superior to making a homemade one.

However, there are some winning tips and tricks to consistently make coffee shop-quality iced coffee from the comfort of your kitchen. Once you get the hang of it you won’t miss the coffee shop at all. If you’re busy in the morning, you can even make a batch to last a few days.

Before you get started on making the perfect iced coffee at home, there are some important tips to keep in mind, including knowing the difference between iced coffee and cold brew, and how choosing the right coffee can ensure a perfect cup every time.

Why Are Freshly Ground Coffee Beans a Better Choice?

Freshly ground coffee tastes better than pre-ground coffee. Before you decide that only pretentious coffee know-it-alls would say this, hear us out. There are a few reasons to back up this claim. The real deciding factor is the taste, but let’s get into the science of it first.

  1. Oxidation — When you grind coffee beans, you start the oxidation process, and air molecules and coffee compounds mix. When this happens long before you brew with the coffee grounds, flavor and aroma are released from the beans too early, before the grounds reach you.
  2. Moisture — Moisture in the air can degrade coffee grounds. Humidity is the enemy of coffee grounds, which is why coffee is best stored in a dark, dry place.
  3. CO2 Reduction — Carbon dioxide transfers oil from coffee beans to coffee, and grinding creates more room for carbon dioxide to escape. Grinding beans right before you brew reduces this CO2 escape.

For these three very important reasons, creating a cup of coffee at home should ideally begin with grinding beans fresh. The quality of taste and aroma will be superior to any pre-ground beans you can buy.

Homemade Iced Coffee Tips for Success 

Iced coffee cubes and glass of creamerWant a few insider tips on how to make iced coffee? If you’ve tried making iced coffee at home and the results were less than coffee shop-worthy, don’t worry. Applying these tried-and-true tricks will ensure a strong, full-bodied, and delicious cup of cold java anytime, anywhere. Here’s how to do it:

  • Make sure you’re using fresh coffee beans that have been properly stored in a cool, dry place. Fresh coffee beans will always produce the best-tasting coffee.
  • Use medium to dark roast beans to brew iced coffee since strong coffee will be richer-tasting when iced.
  • Coffee beans should ideally be freshly ground right before brewing (but don’t let that stop you from enjoying an iced coffee at home).
  • While a lot of focus is put on the type of coffee used when brewing, it’s not the only factor to consider. You could be using the wrong water, too. Using filtered water will improve the taste of your coffee — after all, water makes up the bulk of your brew!
  • Watered-down iced coffee is probably one of the most common mistakes when it comes to making your own. Never pour hot coffee over ice! There are better ways, trust us. You may be using high-quality coffee beans and filtered water, but melted ice will compromise the taste and result in a disappointing homemade coffee experience.
  • Don’t want watered-down iced coffee? Here’s a cool trick: Prepare coffee ice cubes using leftover coffee. Simply fill an ice cube tray with coffee, freeze, and add the cubes to your coffee. Now you’ll have a cool drink without watering down the flavor.
  • Don’t let your iced coffee beverages be ruined by undissolved sugar granules. If you take sugar in your coffee, make a simple syrup instead. They call it simple for a reason — it’s really easy to make and a game-changer for homemade iced coffee. You’ll have sugary liquid goodness to add to your brew and you can store simple syrup for a few days once you’ve made a batch.

The Difference Between Cold Brew and Iced Coffee

Iced coffee has long been a favorite of caffeine aficionados, but cold brew has been recently popping up in coffee shops and even grocery stores. What makes cold brew different than traditional iced coffee? While you might think they’re the same, there are specific differences between the two.

Cold Brew Coffee

  • Cold brew is never heated. Ground coffee is steeped in cold water for 18 or more hours.
  • Cold brew is made as a coffee concentrate, which has twice the caffeine content of regular brewed coffee. It’s then added to water or milk to dilute based on preference.
  • The taste of cold brew is generally sweeter and smoother than regular coffee.

Iced Coffee

  • It’s brewed any way you like — in a Keurig, French press, etc. It’s brewed hot and then cooled down.
  • Simply add ice to room-temperature coffee and voila, you have iced coffee.
  • The flavor is full-bodied and not as sweet as cold brew.

How Should I Brew Iced Coffee?

Making iced coffee is really simple, and the best part is that you can use what you already have at home.

If you brew with a single-serve Keurig machine, simply pop in a K-Cup and start brewing your cup of coffee.

Do you typically use a French press? Get started brewing as usual. You can also steep coffee grounds and cold water — without plunging — and set the French press in the fridge until morning.

If you’re loyal to pour-over coffee, then use that!

Iced coffee starts out as regular coffee, so brew as you usually do and set the coffee aside until morning (or at least a couple of hours). Seriously, that’s it. There are no other special steps to take besides brewing the coffee ahead of when you’d like to drink it. When you wake up, simply pour the room-temp coffee over ice and doctor it up however you want. There’s no need to head out for a cup of cold joe. It’s a win-win situation.

Perfect Homemade Iced Coffee Recipe

How to make iced coffee: Finished product in a mason jarFollow this straightforward, no-fail iced coffee recipe to make a winning cup every morning. Here’s what you need to get started.

What You’ll Need:

  • Freshly ground coffee beans
  • Filtered water
  • Your coffee maker of choice
  • A glass jar with a lid
  • Simple syrup for sweetness, if desired

1. Start with good-quality medium to dark roast coffee beans. If you have a coffee grinder, grind your coffee beans fresh every time you brew coffee.

2. Whether you use a French press, pour-over, or even a Keurig coffee maker, brew your coffee as usual.

3. Let the coffee sit a few hours or overnight to cool down (sealed in a glass container with a lid) so by morning, the coffee will be room temperature.

4. Make a vanilla simple syrup (optional).

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Bring sugar and water to a boil in a saucepan. Stir until sugar is dissolved and then let the mixture cool. Add vanilla extract.

5. In the morning, add ice cubes to the room-temperature coffee and add simple syrup to taste. Add a splash of milk or creamer if you like. There’s no going wrong here, so make your iced coffee however you like it.

The Perfect Delivery for Iced Coffee Enthusiasts

Atlas coffee club brew

Now that you’re a pro and know how to make iced coffee, it won’t be easy going back to standing in line or waiting in the drive-thru to pick up coffee every morning. And why would you?

With a subscription to Atlas Coffee Club, you’ll receive a world tour of amazing coffee delivered fresh to your door every month (or on your personal coffee-drinking schedule). With exotic coffees from countries you can’t find online or on the shelf, you’ll be creating the most incredible beverage at home whenever you want.

About The Author

An entrepreneur and musician, Michael quit his full-time job in the corporate world to assemble a band of fellow storytellers, travelers, and coffee-lovers as enthusiastic as himself to share the unique stories and coffee from around the world.