Hot summer days are on the horizon, so it's time to make cold brew coffee at home again and enjoy a refreshing morning drink to get your day started.
It's super easy to make, and although there is a steeping time (more on that later), you can easily make your perfect batch in advance for the week with the coffee beans you love.
It's such a smooth, naturally sweet drink that I often enjoy black. But nothing is to stop you from turning it into healthy iced lattes or flavored coffee drinks, and I have some recipe variations for you—without refined sugars, syrups, or colorings, dairy-free yet creamy, lightly sweet, and super easy to make.
And yes, you can make iced coffee also out of hot coffee (sort of like a Japanese-styled iced coffee but easier). I'll show you how I make it at home.
Enjoy iced coffee for breakfast on hot summer days or take it to work, the gym, or make it whenever you need a pick-me-up drink!
I am very much into cold coffee or healthy iced lattes during the hot summer months. Mostly I enjoy my iced coffee black, and as part of my pre-workout drink—it increases my energy levels, especially on days I like to challenge my body more.
If you don't mind spending some extra time, I highly encourage you to make a cold brew concentrate.
It contains a bright and rich flavor, has lower acidity, and you can pour enough to last you a few days or up to one week.
But you can also quickly turn a regular, albeit a bit stronger, hot brewed coffee into an iced caffeinated drink with (flavored) ice cubes.
This flash chilled method is excellent when you like all the bitter compounds in your iced coffee that generally comes with your hot cup of Joe.
I can't say that I'm a Latte, Frappe, Mocha kind of coffee drinker. All that stuff is just too sweet for my taste.
Sometimes though, I add a few extra ingredients to drink my coffee with a bit more flair and turn this black liquid into a delicious, lightly sweetened, cold homemade latte with caramel-like notes.
It's all done with natural ingredients and tools that you probably already have in your kitchen.
Let's take a look.
Make a cold brew concentrate at home
If winters weren't so cold here, I would pick a cold brew coffee over a hot one any time of the day. It's smooth, refreshing, and tastes so pleasantly calm.
You'll have to prepare this a day or two in advance, but it is so well worth it, and the result is a cold coffee with a lot of nuanced flavors and less bitter notes.
Cold brew coffee is best made with room-temperature water and has to soak for 12 hours or anywhere from 18 to 24 hours for a more robust coffee.
But what you get is
- a less acidic drink,
- that is easy to make,
- smoother in taste,
- can be stored for up to two weeks in the fridge—although I suggest enjoying it within one week,
- while its strength heavily relies on the coffee beans you use and how long the coffee grounds have steeped in the water.
What kind of roast for a cold brew
Choosing a coffee brand and the type of roast is very personal, and depending on your location, the varieties available might differ.
I would typically suggest using a roast you love and are already used to drinking.
But there are a few things I've learned with testing this out:
- First, I like a light roast for a hot coffee cup but find this too weak for my cold brewing—the taste of coffee was almost absent.
- I suggest going for a medium to dark roast or blending the two with coffee flavors you think might work well together.
- If you enjoy the more fruity notes of a lighter blend, you will get the best results by either making it more concentrated —go for a 1:3 coffee to water ratio, brewing it longer, and letting it rest at room temperature versus the fridge.
- So although any variety of coffee will work, I highly recommend experimenting with what roast works best for you with some of the tips given above.
Note: if in doubt, use a larger quantity of coffee to brew initially because you can always dilute it AFTER. Unfortunately, there isn't much you can do when your cold brew concentrate is too light after steeping for so many hours.
And then there is the grind.
I took the advice of some local coffee aficionados and coarsely ground my beans for the best cold brew.
The less-dense coffee grounds allow the water to flow more easily than with a fine grind and extract all those aromatic, sweeter flavors from the beans.
Using a fine grind might also sometimes result in more bitter flavors. That is probably more the case with a medium to dark roast.
I always buy whole coffee beans and freshly ground them myself when I need a batch. It really produces the best flavor regardless of how you make your coffee, and it also stores better.
You can use a coffee grinder, but I use my blender or Vitamix instead since I don't own one. Just grind in quick short bursts instead of letting the blade run continuously. This technique produces a nice coarse grind and gets the job done.
Also, most stores now allow you to grind their coffee with their big grinder machines (another option).
Finer and preground coffee beans
If all that jazz is inconvenient for you, don't worry about the recommended grind size or grinding the coffee beans at home.
Use your finer preground coffee beans BUT go initially for a shorter 12 hours brew time as it might result in a stronger flavor profile.
You can always work your way up to 24 hours—or if already too strong, then add more water or milk of your choice.
Also, don't forget that with a finer grind, you'll need to use a fine filter like a paper coffee filter over a sieve or a French press maker that can strain preground coffee.
Tip: I prefer buying a brand that locally roasts organic coffee beans. If you haven't found your favorite type of coffee yet or are ready to try something new, check out this top 25 best coffee brands for some inspiration.
The cold brew coffee ratio
When you ask regular cold coffee brewers or do some research online, you'll see that not everyone agrees on the coffee bean to water ratio.
You have some suggesting 1:3, 1:4, or 1:5 coffee to water ratio. Some even suggest carefully weighing the coarsely ground coffee in ounces.
I keep it simple and use ¾ cup of coffee beans, then coarsely grind them per 4 cups of water, and use my French press to store it (not straining).
It produces a pleasant and balanced coffee taste, perfect for this healthy iced coffee recipe.
Note: you don't need a French press; I just use mine to store my cold brew. You can use a Mason jar or a pitcher for storage or whatever is available in your kitchen that comes with a lid or cover.
Combine with water, cover, and steep
- So, once you have coarsely ground your coffee beans,
- add the recommended water,
- then stir for a few minutes until thoroughly mixed, and you have wet all the coffee beans,
- Cover your container and store it at room temperature for 12 to 18 hours.
Recommended steeping time
Again, personal preference comes into play here and how strong your coffee beans are. You can go up to 24 hours, but anywhere between 12 to 18 hours is enough for me.
You got to test this out a bit for yourself. Maybe check in after 12 hours. If it tastes a bit too watered down, then go for 15 to 18 hours, and so forth.
What I use to strain the cold brew
You don't need any fancy equipment, and there are different ways of doing this, so here are some options:
- I use a nut milk bag (affiliate link) over a large bowl to strain the coffee and then transfer the liquid into a pitcher.
- You can also use a fine-mesh strainer or sieve covered with a thin paper coffee filter or fine cheesecloth to filter the coffee.
- You can also use a reusable filter if you have one.
- If you own a French press, you can use that to filter out the coffee grounds.
Note: I like to save the coffee grounds and use them as a body scrub in the shower—a bit messy but so good for the skin. Sometimes I sprinkle it onto my garden soil and rake it a bit. It's an excellent fertilizer for my acid-loving plants.
Make iced coffee with hot coffee
Okay, so this is not entirely the same as a Japanese iced coffee, but close and a more speedy way to get your iced coffee fix.
Step 1: Start with brewing your cup of coffee—use your home-brewed method for this recipe.
Step 2: Let the coffee cool down a bit over the counter to release some of its steam—5 minutes is enough.
Step 3: Next, pour the coffee straight over ice cubes (I like to use a mason jar). This chills it immediately.
Step 4: Enjoy black or add your favorite flavors (see more below).
Note: Brew your coffee a tad stronger than usual by either adding more coffee or less water because it will dilute somewhat with ice before serving. Another option is to freeze some leftover coffee in ice cube trays or some of your favorite milk to add some chilled creaminess.
Healthy flavored iced latte
Now that we've gone over the finer details on making a cold brew concentrate and creating an iced drink with a hot brewed coffee for the less patient ones let's look at a basic recipe for making a healthy flavored iced coffee.
This is my favorite way of adding a sweet perk to my cup of coffee the natural way.
Step 1: Add a creamy ingredient
You can use any unsweetened milk, plant milk, or cream you love. I often choose unsweetened vanilla cashew milk because it adds a lovely nutty flavor and is already naturally sweet. Almond or hazelnut milk will do as well.
Usually, I measure about ¼ cup of milk per cup of coffee because I like it that way. But feel free to make yours lighter or stronger by adding less. Taste test and find your perfect coffee to milk ratio!
Note: Make cashew milk ice cubes in advance for an instant iced latte. Cashew milk freezes well, and they pop easily out of ice cube trays. Replace them with regular water ice cubes for a less diluted coffee flavor.
Step 2: Add a natural sweet component
Very soft pitted (Medjool) dates add a heavenly caramel-like taste.
- I measure half or one whole Medjool date per ¼ to ½ cup of plant milk—enough to add a tad sweetness without losing the coffee flavor.
- You must blend the dates with the milk using a high powdered blender until completely pulverized. However, I like to leave some bits of the dates intact.
- If you like it closer to a caramel iced latte from a coffee house, blend in a second date—still healthier and less sweet.
- You can make this cashew-date blend in advance and in bulk, then store it in the fridge for whenever you want to sweeten your iced coffee.
Note: have your dates hardened in the fridge? That sometimes happens to me as well. Then make them plump and juicy again by submerging them in some hot water for 10 minutes. That will do the trick. It will also help with blending them.
Step 3: Add a bit of sea salt
You can, of course, totally omit this, but I highly recommend it. A pinch of salt takes away any bitterness in your brewed drink and nicely balances the sweet flavors.
And it goes well with the caramel-tasting dates or any vanilla-flavored cashew milk. It is the same when you add a tad of salt on top of peanut butter cookies. Ever done that? Then you know what I mean.
Step 4: Add peanut butter to coffee
Go a bit extra fancy, add a tablespoon of salted peanut butter in the coffee—reminiscent of a peanut butter (vegan) latte or coffee smoothie— and omit the pinch of sea salt here.
Use that drippy kind of nut butter, smooth or crunchy.
This concoction is just DELICIOUS, like a tad thicker salted caramel version—but still healthier.
Use almond butter if you follow a Paleo or whole30 diet or are allergic to peanuts!
Step 5: alternative flavorings without sugar
So many options, but here are a few:
- use unsweetened vanilla plant milk instead of plain
- add a touch of cinnamon powder
- add cocoa or cacao powder for a more chocolatey flavor (or flavored collagen powder, my favorite)
- other options are sugar-free vanilla extract or adding a few fennel seeds when pulverizing the dates with the milk.
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Healthy Iced CoffeeMariska Ramondino
Make healthy iced coffee
- 1 cup hot brewed coffee or one cup cold brew see recipe below
- 1-2 pitted Medjool dates
- ¼ cup cashew milk cold
- pinch of sea salt
- Cashew flavored ice cubes
- 1 tablespoon salted creamy or crunchy peanut butter optional
Make cold brew coffee at home
- ¾ cup packed whole coffee beans about 2.5 ounces/65 grams or up to 3 ounces/85 grams coarsely ground coffee
- 4 cups of water note: test it out and adjust the coffee to water ratio based on preference. But this is a good ratio to start with
How to make healthy iced coffee (individual cup, quick and easy)
- Allow your regular home-brewed cup of coffee to cool a little or release its steam (5 minutes).
- Place the dates and milk in a (high-speed) blender.
- Blend until the dates are disintegrated, and all chunks are gone (or leave a few pulverized bits based on preference).
- Add a handful of (flavored) ice cubes to your favorite coffee glass or mason jar.
- Pour your slightly cooled cup of coffee over the ice cubes.
- Then stir in the date-milk mixture with a large spoon.
- Enjoy immediately.
Prepare Cold brew coffee to make iced coffee (yields 4 cups)
- In a one-quart pitcher or jar, combine the coffee grinds with the water.
- Stir to combine for a few minutes until all the coffee grinds are thoroughly wettened.
- Place a lid on the jar or pitcher and best to steep at room temperature for 12 to 18 hours.
- When ready to strain the coffee, place a nut milk bag over a large deep bowl (see other filter options in note).
- Pour the coffee concentrate into the milk bag.
- Close the bag, and use your hands to let the coffee steep and drip out entirely into the bowl.
- Discard the coffee grinds or use them as a body exfoliator or fertilizer for acid-loving plants.
- Transfer the cold brew into a pitcher with a lid.
- Refrigerate and store for up to one week.
- You can use a cup of cold brew coffee also to make the healthy iced coffee recipe above.
Alternative options to strain your cold brewAlternatively, if you don't have a milk bag, use a thin coffee filter or fine cheesecloth and place it into a sieve or fine-mesh strainer over a large deep bowl. Pour coffee concentrate through the prepared sieve into the bowl. Although not necessary, a cold brew coffee is super easy to make with a cold brew coffee maker.
How to make flavored ice cubesUse any leftover coffee, pour in an ice cube tray, and let it harden in the freezer (best overnight). Alternatively, you can use cashew milk instead of black coffee to add a creamy touch to your cold coffee.
Make date-sweetened cashew milk in advanceYou can make a batch of date-sweetened cashew milk in advance and in bulk—adjust the level of sweetness according to preference by adding more dates per ¼ cup of milk—taste test. Store in a mason jar that can be closed with a lid and keep in the fridge for up to 7 days.
How to make an individual and quick healthy iced coffee with foamy milk
- Allow your regular home-brewed cup of coffee to cool a little or release its steam (5 minutes).
- Place the coffee, dates, cashew milk, and pinch of salt in a (high-speed) blender.
- Blend until the dates are disintegrated, and all chunks are gone.
- If you use a high-speed blender, like a Vitamix, start on the lowest setting (because the liquid is warm) and gradually work your way up to the highest when safe.
- The cashew milk will foam during blending.
- Add a handful of (flavored) ice cubes to your favorite coffee glass.
- Then pour the blended coffee concoction into the prepared glass.
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Nutrition (% Daily value)
Disclaimer: This nutritional data is calculated using third party tools and is only intended as a reference.
(Note: This post was published in May 2019 and has been updated to include new info and photos)