Make Your Own Iced Coffee

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

icedcoffee_lead
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. cynthia says:

    Pat, your 12oz of decaf over 8 cups of water–is the 12 oz by weight or by volume? I want to give it a try. I'm also going to try the overnight press pot suggestion.

  2. Kathy Hosmer says:

    I've been using a Toddy maker for years and years, love it. You need to plan ahead since it takes about 12-14 hours to get a strong concentrate which is what we like. But well worth it.
    Love it, you can get them online, hard to find in stores.

  3. Iced Coffee Lover says:

    About once a week I brew a full pot of coffee – it's ten cups, and I put in about 12-14 spoons of grounds. After the pot is done, I pour it into a plastic container, let it cool, and then put it in the fridge. I now have Iced coffee to go for the entire work week. I bought reusable containers from Starbucks (just like the ones they have for ices coffee, except they're made of double wall hard plastic). I fill the cup with ice, pour over the coffee, add milk, and voila! I have iced coffee to go.

    Easy as can be, and I save tons of money.

    Almost forgot, I also add about ten shots of espresso (that I make with my espresso machine) to the brewed coffee.

  4. Carla says:

    When you talk about using your press – are you using cold water or hot water? Still do the 1 to 4 ratio?

  5. Jen says:

    I have been making delicious coffee milkshakes all summer using my Bella Cucina Rocket that a friend gave me for Christmas. I brew extra coffee in the morning and refrigerate it when cool. I put equal parts crushed ice and coffee together with creamer and Equal and blend in the Rocket. It makes a wonderful, slushy coffee drink. If I want a caramel Frappucccino I add Smuckers caramel ice cream sauce. I have many flavored decaf coffees that I get from Intercourse Canning Co. online. English Toffee, Cinnamon Sticky Bun and French Vanilla Cappuccino are my favorites.

  6. Jen says:

    I have been making delicious coffee milkshakes all summer using my Bella Cucina Rocket that a friend gave me for Christmas. I brew extra coffee in the morning and refrigerate it when cool. I put equal parts crushed ice and coffee together with creamer and Equal and blend in the Rocket. It makes a wonderful, slushy coffee drink. If I want a caramel Frappucccino I add Smuckers caramel ice cream sauce. I have many flavored decaf coffees that I get from Intercourse Canning Co. online. English Toffee, Cinnamon Sticky Bun and French Vanilla Cappuccino are my favorites.

  7. Leighann says:

    I also use my french press to cold brew coffee using the 1st commenter's NY Times recipe of 1/3 cup coffee to 1 1/2 cps water. Cold water is poured over the coffee in the press, then I actually put the hole thing in the fridge overnight to brew. Press it down in the morning, pour over a filter into your container of choice, add anywhere from 3/4 cp to 1 1/2 cps of cold water into the brew and you're good to go. MUCH less bitter and acidic than regular brewed coffee and the money I'm saving is phenomenal. You do not need to purchase a cold brew system to enjoy this!

  8. Caitlyn says:

    One of my favorite things from starbucks is the frappuccino's. To mimic this great summer treat I made coffee a little stronger than normal and froze it as ice cubes. When the coffee has frozen take the ice cubes and throw them in the blender. Add a little bit of milk and your favorite flavoring (I add chocolate to make it a mocha) and blend, be sure to jiggle the blender if yours is old like mine (to be sure you get all the ice ground). It makes a great homemade coffee frappuccino. Hope you enjoy!

  9. Sherry says:

    One container of Trader Joe's coffee makes a 2 week supply of coffee in the Toddy bucket. Load it up at dinner and it is ready to go the next morning. Much easier on the stomach and no waste. I mix in cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamon, vanilla, cocoa, etc. when i "brew" the coffee.

  10. Daniel Ucko says:

    My girlfriend and I have been cold brewing this summer, using a half pound of coffee to 64 oz. of water in a pot overnight. The tricky part comes in filtering out the grounds with cheesecloth. Not as simple as it sounds! It gets messy, especially since we're pouring from a wide-mouthed pot into a more slender pitcher we keep in the fridge.

    A helpful thing to do if you like your coffee sweet is to make a simple syrup — mixes with cold much better. You can also add some vanilla extract and you've got Starbucks right in your home! Definitely makes a stronger blend, and less acidic. And cheaper than $2.65 for a venti.

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