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. earned money says:

    Whoa! Amazing detail by detail brief training. I’ll make use of that!

  2. Wow, amazing blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you made blogging look easy. The overall look of your site is fantastic, let alone the content!. Thanks For Your article about Make Your Own Iced Coffee | Healthy Eats – Food Network Healthy Living Blog .

  3. Wow, incredible blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you made blogging look easy. The overall look of your site is wonderful, as well as the content!. Thanks For Your article about Make Your Own Iced Coffee | Healthy Eats – Food Network Healthy Living Blog .

  4. Bob Lipscomb says:

    hi lisa, i liked your waa-lahh, i picked up working w/french cooks. but do you think the cubano espresso coffee would work like the instant, but the cold brew would smooth out the acidity/bitterness in it? i buy it latin markets, very cheap.+ your quick powder,,hmm
    thanks for the idea

  5. DPT says:

    Actually, it's Terraza brewed at double strength and then ice is added. So it's not necessarily stronger. But African blends, such as Gazebo, is a good choice too.

  6. Sarah says:

    The knee highs are genius! I am going to try this one. I am guilty of not drinking enough milk (not crazy about the taste of skim, but my waistline can't handle anything else), and this sounds like a good way to get that Vitamin D and calcium. I could probably use decaf and share with my kid, too (who also is not a fan of milk, but loves coffee).

  7. Pat says:

    Just a warning – Have you ever washed a pair of brand new clean knee high or regular hose and noticed all the color that washes out into the water? I use off black and dark brown and some of the dye always washes out. You are probably getting this in your coffee. Safer to buy a package of paper coffee filters made for the drip coffee makers. Only cost about $1.00 for 200 in the dollar store. Be safe!!

  8. Alison says:

    That sounds wonderful….but my intrest now remain on your name LIPSCOMB are you related to William Lipscomb and what state are you from….that is my family name.

  9. Jenn says:

    I'm very curious to hear how the protein powder/iced coffee conbo turns out – it sounds delicious!

  10. yolanda says:

    This is what I do but hadn't thought of the coffee flavored Ice cream. I have a coupon for Star Bucks coffee ice cream in my purse. Great idea!! Thanks

  11. I love, love, love this idea!!! I can't wait to try it! Thanks
    Have you tried adding flavors? I wonder what the best way is to incorporate different flavors. My favorite $5 coffee is white chocolate mocha. If anyone has any ideas about re-creating something similar, I'm all ears.

  12. Pat says:

    i have always used the natural not colored knee highs and rinse them well first. I tried the drip filters and ended up with a mess.
    I still love my cold pressed coffee and so does my stomach.

  13. Pat says:

    I by a bag of coffee from and it is 12oz by weight. What makes the coffee so acidic is heat. That is why i do not put hot / boiling water on the grounds. Using the cold water to make the coffee is what makes the difference for me.

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