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. Carole says:

    I love iced coffee. Reading all these recipes makes me hungry for a big tall glass. I leave out the sugar & creamer. Don't need the calories. I too just do it the easy way, however, will have to try a lot of the ideas i have just read. Thanks to everyone who gave their ideas, I will be trying many of them……..

  2. Sheila says:

    I try not to skip breakfast in the mornings…and I am more into healthy eating/snacking and exercising…not dieting. Some mornings though you just NEED that coffee kick and taste. So here is my homemade coffee drink…. 8 oz milk, 1 scoop slim fast vanilla, and 2 tablespoons ( or more depending on your strength desired). Mix and add ice. If I have extra time I blend it for a smoothie texture. ENJOY!

  3. Shelley says:

    At the coffee shop I used to work at, we would pour hot water over coffee grounds and let that drip into a big pitcher that was half-full with ice. this produced very flavorful iced coffee! At the shop I work at now, we just grind our beans like for a french press, fill the pitcher with cold water, cover with plastic wrap, and let it sit overnight. I actually prefer the hot water method because it produces much faster and tastier results. And a lot of people freak out about us leaving a pitcher of room temperature water sitting on the counter overnight to be served to customers the next day. . .something about breeding bacteria. I'm not a germophobe, but the "leave it sitting overnight at room temp on the kitchen counter" method makes me cringe a little.

    At home, I prefer to use my french press. I just use twice as much coffee as I normally would, grind it, put it in the press, pour hot but not quite boiling water over the grounds (about 190-200 degrees if you want to actually measure), let it sit for 4-ish minutes, and pour over ice. You can drink it immediately, but it tastes better if you let it chill in the refrigerator.
    If you have heard about the recent research unfiltered coffee (like french press or cold press) contributing to higher cholesterol (… original study, but a reasonable media publication outlining the results), you can pour the hot brew through a paper coffee filter. The easiest way would be to use a cone filter and a funnel.

  4. Smaragda says:

    Did anybody tried "Nescafe"? We used in southern europe for over 40 years. I was extrimely happy to see it in the supermarkets in USA for some years now. In a shaker put 1 tsp. of coffee, 1/2 tsp of raw sugar, and 1/3 cup of water. Shake well so the sugar will disolve. Pour it in a tall glass, add crushed ice, little milk and cold water and enjoy.
    If there is an "IKEA" store near you, look for the battery operated mixer $2. 00 value. Instead of the shaker put the ingredients directly into you glass and mix. Instantly you have an iced coffee. Do not try this with other brands of instant coffe. The results are not the same. A $7.00 jar of coffee will be good for over three weeks.

  5. earlytoo says:

    Our favorite, and easiest iced coffee. One pot of brewed coffee, let cool slightly. Pour into pitcher. Mix well with one can of non-fat sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporated milk). Chill. Pour into tall glass and enjoy. For an extra treat add a scoop of Edy's Cappuccino Chocolate Chip frozen yogurt. Without the frozen yogurt it is a low-cal tasty iced coffee.

  6. Bobbi Tarlow says:

    Love my iced coffee…………….leftover coffee from the day before ( refrigerated) , I just add non dairy creamer (( liquid, of course), and I'm good to go………….

  7. coffee says:

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