Recipe: Iced Coffee

Cary, NC — Making refreshing, coffee shop-quality iced coffee at home is easy.

Iced Coffee for Summer

I love coffee and, like many people, I drink it every morning.

In the heat of the summer, however, hot coffee becomes less and less appealing, and I end up drinking only half a cup. If you have a similar problem, here’s an alternative–iced coffee.

This isn’t just any iced coffee–it’s cold press, or strong, refreshing, coffee shop quality iced coffee that you’ll want to slurp down like water. Make a huge batch, and it lasts a whole month.


This recipe yields one gallon of iced coffee (but it can easily be doubled). Make this at least eight hours before you plan to enjoy it (or the night before).


  • 1 gallon cold, filtered water
  • 1/2 pound of quality ground coffee
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk (optional)
  • Half and half or milk (optional)

Prep Instructions:

  • Estimate or weigh 1/2 pound of good-quality, ground coffee into a gallon-sized pitcher.
  • Fill pitcher to the top with 1 gallon of cool, filtered water.
  • Stir with a long-stemmed spoon to make sure coffee grounds are fully immersed.
  • Cover with a lid or plastic wrap and let sit for 8-12 hours (no more, no less). This doesn’t need to be refrigerated; you can let it sit right out on your counter.
  • After 8-12 hours, uncover and strain your coffee. I pour the water and grounds through a fine mesh strainer into a separate container. If you don’t have a fine strainer, place a colander into a big bowl and line it with coffee filters. Slowly pour the mixture over the filters.
  • Chill until ready to serve.

To Serve:

  • Fill a glass with ice, then coffee (to the top if you like it black; 3/4 full otherwise).
  • Add 2-4 tablespoons of the condensed milk, add a splash of half and half and stir well.
  • Enjoy! You can store cold press in the fridge in an airtight container up to one month.

Flavoring Your Coffee

Using sweetened, condensed milk in my iced coffee is a delicious trick I learned from Chef Ree Drummond. It lightly sweetens the drink while still keeping it strong and flavorful. I’d highly recommend you try it, but you can always use sugar and half and half instead.

If you like flavored drinks, you can purchase caramel, vanilla and hazelnut flavored syrups at the grocery store to add to hot or iced coffee. Use 3-5 pumps, or teaspoons, of syrup depending on the size of your cup or your preference for sweetness. This tastes better than a lot of creamers and much, much better than artificially-flavored coffee. Add half and half or milk to taste.

Storing & Saving Hot Coffee

If you’re short on time, you can still make iced coffee from hot coffee.

  • Leftover hot coffee can be re-used if you store it in the refrigerator soon after it brews.
  • Refrigerate hot coffee for an easier, quicker version of the recipe above in an airtight container for up to seven days. FYI-the recipe above is better and lasts longer!
  • Or, pour leftover coffee in ice cube trays. You can use this “coffee ice” in your iced coffee later as an alternative to regular ice that won’t dilute your drink.

An Interesting Coffee Fact

My family and friends playfully make fun of the annoyed, uncomfortable expression I get on my face if I see leftover coffee being poured down the drain. Okay, I’ll admit it, I’m a little crazy about coffee, and I hate for it to go to waste. Read this fact, though, and you’ll see why.

Did you know that it takes three-four years for a coffee plant to mature before it can start producing beans? Then, once mature, the coffee plant produces an average of 2,000 coffee cherries per year–which is enough to make only one pound of coffee.

For my family of three, that means that, every two weeks, we consume the equivalent of what one coffee plant takes a whole year to produce. I find that unbelievable.

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Story by Jessica Patrick. Photo by Kenny Louie.

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