Make Your Own Iced Coffee

by in Healthy Tips, No-Cook Choices, August 4, 2009

Sipping on a tall cup of iced coffee is definitely refreshing in the summer heat, but load it up with creamy and sugary add-ins and your drink can rack up the fat and calories. Here’s the skinny on creating a lighter iced coffee and more on one hot trend for making a cup of Joe: cold brewing.

Old School: Healthy Brews
Like many people, my daily routine includes a morning cup of coffee. When I switched from store-bought to homemade, I was shocked at how much money I saved. Instead of spending $3 a pop at the coffee shop, I buy an entire container of high-quality, fair trade coffee beans (Trader Joe’s French Roast is my favorite). That’s 2 weeks worth of coffee for less than $7! To stretch my dollars even further, I move what’s leftover in my coffee pot to the fridge to save for an afternoon iced coffee.

Black coffee is extremely low in calories — one cup has about 2. Order up a large iced coffee with cream and sugar, and all of the sudden you’re gulping hundreds of calories and between 5 to 15 grams of fat (each tablespoon of cream has 30 calories, 3 grams of fat and 2 grams of saturated fat). To slim down your drink, choose low-fat or non-fat dairy (1% milk works well) and go easy on the sugar.

Whether you pour in granulated sugar or opt for “shots” of flavored syrups (sugar in liquid form), you’re adding 15 calories per teaspoon. A light sprinkle of sugar is fine, but if you’re really after some extra flavor, choose a roast where the flavor has been mixed into the coffee beans and then you don’t have to turn to the syrups. Other low calorie options include cinnamon, vanilla and unsweetened cocoa powder. Sugar substitutes — you know, the little pink, yellow and blue packets — are calorie-free but aren’t necessarily the healthier choice, especially if you eat them in large quantities. (Read more about the dangers associated with overdoing sugar substitutes.)

And while some might argue that caffeine is bad for you, coffee is actually rich in a wide variety of antioxidants — java drinkers may have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and other inflammatory conditions.

New School: Cold Brewing
The classic way to make iced coffee is to chill a fresh-brewed pot and pour it over ice — a new trend, however, lets folks ditch the coffeemaker altogether. Cold-brewing systems use less energy, and loyal fans say they make a more flavorful, less acidic cup of Joe. By cold-brewing ground coffee beans, you create a concentrated coffee extract (most machines require overnight steeping). Then, just add hot or cold water to the extract in the morning for a fresh cup. Cold-brewing aficionados and product manufacturers also promise that the extract will stay fresh in your fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Most cold-brewed java comes from a machine, but I did dig up some simple instructions for making cold brew on your own (I haven’t had a chance to try this yet; I’d love to hear from folks who have). Basically, you combine coarsely ground coffee with water (1 part coffee to 4 parts water) in a large pitcher. Let it sit overnight and strain through a fine strainer.

    Iced Coffee Tips:

  • Brew your coffee a bit stronger than usual; the added ice cubes can dilute the flavor as they melt.
  • Freeze chilled coffee in ice cube trays and use them instead of plain ice cubes.
  • Let warm-brewed coffee cool to room temperature before you put it in the fridge.

TELL US: How do you take your coffee? What’s your favorite way to brew?

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Comments (63)

  1. Sarah says:

    My cold brewing steps are very simple and I love the outcome! I use the popular recipe from the New York Times and use it as low key as it gets – soak overnight with in a bowl covered in plastic wrap and strain by using my coffee filter holder from my coffee machine.

    Cold-Brewed Ice Coffee
    New York Times 6/27/07

    Yield: Two drinks

    1/3 cup ground coffee (medium-coarse grind is best)
    Milk (optional)

    1. In a jar, stir together coffee and 1 1/2 cups water. Cover and let rest at room temperature overnight or 12 hours.

    2. Strain twice through a coffee filter, a fine-mesh sieve or a sieve lined with cheesecloth. In a tall glass filled with ice, mix equal parts coffee concentrate and water, or to taste. If desired, add milk.

  2. Andre says:

    Love this article and have to try it right away. I like my protein drinks as snack during the day and will try this cold brew solution mixed with vanilla flavored protein in skim milk to see how it tastes. Thanks for sharing this interesting information with us

  3. Liz says:

    Thanks for sharing it with us , this will save me money I spend so much on ice coffee Thanks again I will have to try it today.

  4. Bob Lipscomb says:

    i use my leftover coffee from the morning and almond milk (vanilla),, yummy, also a shot of simple syrup w/vanilla,,waa-lahh-it`s starbucks ( minus the almond milk)

  5. Danielle says:

    I fill a medium bowl up with ice and water and fill a small sandwich bag( the cheap ones with the fold over top work fine, trust me) with the hot coffee and let the bag soak in the icewater for about 6-8 minutes….I do this in the morning while I make my lunch and by the time I'm finished the coffee is cool enough to pour over ice and ready to drink instantly. If you fill the bowl up with enough ice and water you dont have to worry about it spilling just floats. You can even add sugar to the bag so it's able to melt when the coffee is hot. This is the freshest way without any fancy machinery.

  6. Paige says:

    If you want Starbuck's strength of coffee they usually do a medium roast like a House Blend or Gazebo and brew a full batch of coffee with only a half batch of water to make it stronger.

  7. lisa says:

    I like to use instant coffe in milk then add about 1 tbl spoon of chocolate powder (nestle quick) and 1 tbl spoon of sugar …waa-lahh a mocha iced coffee, yummy

  8. Ty007 says:

    I hope this works. I spend a fortune on coffee drinks.

  9. Terry says:

    I as well enjoy ice coffee with out the price and calories. I fix 1 cup hot water from the coffee pot, add 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons instant coffee and sweeten (I use an artifical sweetner), pour coffee into ice tea type glass, add ice and sugar free, flavored non-dairy creamer oooh, sooo gooood, inexpensive in calories and price and so refreshing for a summer drink.

  10. Pat says:

    I have been making cold press coffee for several months and love it. I use 12 oz of decaf coffee over 8 cups of water. Let it sit overnight or a little longer in a sealed glass bowl. I strain it using new knee high hose i buy for this purpose at Wal-Mart. I can do it on the weekend and have coffee all day. It is so much easier on my stomach because it has 60% less acid. I almost gave up drinking coffee before i heard of this method because of stomach problems. I mix 3 cups skim milk to 1 cup of coffee. Course high end coffee works best for me. I sometimes add cinnamon or vanilla extract and a little sweetner. Pour over ice and i drink it all day. Good source of calcium for since i am a 61 year old female.

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