As a coffee lover, there’s one thing I just didn’t get—Iced Coffee. What?! The idea left me well, cold. Coffee is supposed to be hot. Very, very hot.
And then I made a serious mistake. I accepted a sample of iced coffee in a popular coffee shop. It was strong, sweet, creamy, and icy, icy cold. Wow.
I needed to figure out how to make this myself—it was that good—because as much as I might want iced coffee again, I was not going to pay the outrageous price to have someone else make it for me.
One might think, as I did, that pouring hot coffee over ice, adding milk and sugar would do the trick. Not exactly. Not even close.
The problem is that the ice seriously dilutes the coffee, a dilemma that sent me in search of the secret for why the sample was not at all diluted. That’s when I discovered that Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, is quite an iced coffee aficionado, and quite willing to share her secrets.
Make cold brew
First, you must make a big batch of very strong “cold brew” coffee concentrate. This is the secret. You’ll need a large container, ground coffee, and water. And time—at least 8 hours (exact recipe and instructions below).
Cold brew coffee is not just coffee served cold. The thing that makes it cold brew coffee is that the brewing process itself happens without heat. Instead of steeping the grounds in hot water, you steep them in cold water for a lot longer.
And while you can make as little as one cup of cold brew concentrate at a time, why? I’d rather make 2 gallons at a time because it’s excellent for up to six weeks in the refrigerator.
Now you’re ready
Once you have that beautiful concentrate locked and loaded, it’s time to make one or a number of tall, beautiful, lovely iced coffee! You’ll need ice, coffee concentrate, and your choice of milk, cream and or sugar. Or just drink it black. It will be non-acidic and not the least bit bitter. (Specific recipe in the recipe card below.)
And there you have it: Icy cold, undiluted, perfect iced coffee!
Not ready to commit to nearly two gallons of coffee concentrate? No problem. Scale down the proportions: 2 tablespoons of ground coffee for each cup of cold water.
In any proportion, iced coffee made this way is even better than the sample that got me into all of this in the first place.
How to Make Perfect Cold Brew Iced Coffee
- Large container like a clean, new 3-gallon bucket
- Long wooden spoon
- Large sieve or colander
- Cheesecloth or coffee filter
For 2-Gallons Coffee Concentrate (See NOTE 1)
- 1 pound ground coffee
- 8 quarts filtered or bottled cold water (32 cups)
For a Single Serving Iced Coffee
- 1 ½ cups ice
- 8 ounces cold brew coffee concentrate
- 2 to 4 ounces milk or cream or to taste
- 2 teaspoons sugar or to taste
To Make Proper Coffee Concentrate
- Into a very large container, dump one pound of ground, dark, rich coffee. Any brand will do.
- Now pour in 8 quarts (2 gallons) of cold water.
- Stir with a wooden spoon until all of the dry coffee is wet. Cover. Allow to steep at room temperature for at least 8 hours, longer is just fine.
- Line a large sieve or colander with several layers of cheesecloth and pour the steeped coffee grounds through. You’ll need to prod it a bit to get all of that coffee perfectly sieved, but stick with it. You’ll end up with just shy of 8 quarts of rich, dark coffee concentrate that will be void of bitterness and very low in acidity.
- Discard the coffee dregs; tightly cover and place the concentrate in the refrigerator.
To make a tall, cold, wonderful glass of Perfect Iced Coffee
- Fill a 12-ounce glass―or a one-quart canning jar―with ice.
- Pour very cold coffee concentrate over the ice until the glass or jar is about 3/4 full.
- Add your choice of milk or cream.
- Add the amount of sugar you need to make it as sweet as you desire. Stir to mix.