The Secret to Perfect Homemade Iced Coffee

by Heather

Judging by my love of both pumpkin and lattes, you’d think I’d be all about some Starbucks’ pumpkin spice lattes.

But surprise, surprise, I’m not. I think they’re disgusting.

But let’s be clear. I love pumpkin.

And I really, really love lattes. Or anything coffee.

I make a lot of pumpkin things. I won’t bore you with anymore…just yet. But I will let you in on a little secret of mine.

Iced Coffee.
cold brewed iced coffee recipe

Fall is the perfect time of year for many reasons, one of which is the ability to be comfortable while wearing jeans and still drinking an iced coffee drink.

Only problem is, I don’t have a barista living in my kitchen.

Or do I?

The secrets to the perfect iced coffee:


Step 1. Cold brew coffee. It takes a little forethought, but so does driving to Starbucks.

cold brew coffee

I was always a little confused why Starbucks didn’t make decaf iced coffee, since they always have a pot of decaf sitting around anyways. This, my friends, is why. It’s a whole different animal- it’s a stronger brewed, less acidic-y coffee. {For the record, you can get a decaf iced Americano and it’s the same as a decaf iced coffee. I think it’s even 10 cents less.}

decaf coffee grounds

Update: you no longer need to hack cold-brew coffee. Try a cold-brew coffee maker!

Mix 1 1/3 cup coffee grounds with 8 cups cold water. Be sure to choose good coffee- crappy coffee grounds make even crappier iced coffee. {This is my favorite decaf coffee.} Stir and place in the fridge overnight.

cold brewing coffee

In the AM, straining the liquid out of the coffee grounds. I find it easiest to throw a coffee filter on top of a strainer and let it do it’s thing. Ok, I’ll be honest- I really hover over it and pick the coffee filter up and squeeze the liquid out because I’m rather inpatient.

how to cold brew coffee for iced coffee

cold brewed coffee

You can skip this next step, but I hear it’s all the rage. You want to be in on the trendy things, right? Winking smile


Step 2. Whip up some vegan sweetened condensed milk. I suppose you could also just crack a can of the pre-made stuff, but that’s awfully sugary for my liking. Apparently iced coffee with sweetened condensed milk {and even extra cream} is called Vietnamese iced coffee. Who knew?!

vegan sweetened condensed milk

Boil a can of coconut milk with a tablespoon or so of agave nectar. {More if you like it sweet- I don’t.} When the milk comes to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer or slight rolling boil, and let it cook away. Reduce the coconut milk by about half or two thirds. Remove from heat and chill.

homemade sweetened condensed milk


Step 3. Fill up your glass with ice cubes. Or, be sneaky like me, and make coffee ice cubes with leftover coffee. It makes it even less likely to get all watered down. {trays}

coffee ice cubes


ice coffee ice cubes


Step 4. Pour in your cold brewed coffee.

how to make iced coffee

Top with your homemade sweetened condensed milk. Adjust coffee-to-cream ratio per your liking. {This was probably too much coffee.}

homemade iced coffee

vietnamese iced coffee

Stir, sip, and sit back and relax.

homemade ice coffee

easy iced coffee recipe

Good news is, you only have to go through the whole process occasionally- you’ll have enough cold brewed coffee and sweetened condensed coconut milk to last you a few glasses. You can always make extra up front too. {Or just use milk or cream.}

creamy iced coffee

{A sippy straw is, of course, completely necessary.Winking smile}



On a side note, find out what it’s like being 21 weeks pregnant.

{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Lindsey September 21, 2011 at 11:18 am
I will have to try this at home! I always just chilled my regular coffee but did wonder this summer when I saw Starbucks selling Iced Coffee in the bag, didn't know there was a difference! Thanks for sharing :)
Lauren @ Sassy Molassy September 21, 2011 at 12:18 pm
Fun photos with the milk flowing down and I love the coffee ice cube idea.
sarah (sarah learns) September 21, 2011 at 12:43 pm
thanks for this post! i'm so lazy about making iced coffee. i usually just throw any extra from my hot coffee the day before into a pitcher in the fridge and call that iced coffee. i know it'd be way better if it was cold brewed.
Heather September 22, 2011 at 8:47 am
That's what I used to do too- it doesn't turn out bad if you drink strong coffee, but if it's already a little weak, it's not nearly as good!
Tina @ Faith Fitness Fun September 21, 2011 at 1:26 pm
Yep. Your iced coffee looks about perfect. And I am LOVING the coconut milk idea. That is genius! I foresee coconut milk in my coffee one day soon.
Meg September 21, 2011 at 1:53 pm
Great post - I had NO idea this was how iced coffee was made! And I love the coffee ice cube idea, as well as the sweetened condensed coconut milk. Yum! I can't wait to try this with the toasted coconut coffee grounds I got from a Hawaiian cafe here in San Diego :)
Heather September 22, 2011 at 8:47 am
Toasted coconut coffee?! That sounds insanely delicious.
Madison Chloe September 21, 2011 at 7:27 pm
Thank you for posting this, I've always loved ordering this when I was out at a Vietnamese bistro, but glad to know I can easily make it at home too.
Erika - The Teenage Taste September 22, 2011 at 7:04 am
Great post! I love the idea of freezing coffee for ice cubes! That way the coffee doesn't get watered down. Love it!
Heather September 22, 2011 at 8:48 am
No matter how you make the coffee, the coffee cubes make a huge difference!
Brigid @ LiveBreatheHuzzah September 22, 2011 at 7:41 am
I wish I had read this in June! My approach has always been to make normal coffee and then refrigerate it, but your approach seems way better! Thanks for sharing!
Melanie September 22, 2011 at 2:32 pm
Great recipe--I love coconut milk and I love you recipe. Thanks for sharing. I am a coffee lover.
myFudo September 22, 2011 at 3:41 pm
This is beautiful, thanks for sharing. The iced coffee is amazing I can imagine how good it tastes
myFudo September 22, 2011 at 3:43 pm
looks really good, can imagine the coffee going down my throat Yummy!! feel free to stop by am giving away a free cupcake maker
Jennifer @ Raisin Questions September 23, 2011 at 2:29 pm
What a great idea with the coconut milk! I'm definitely going to try that. I also think this brewing method is the best way to make iced coffee -- I just have to get my act together and plan ahead a bit more to get it done. I'm also encouraged that you like drinking iced coffee in the fall, too. I thought maybe I'd be the one of the few weird ones, but I guess it's more popular that I thought -- it's nice when you are all wrapped up in scarves and coats!
Heather September 24, 2011 at 9:28 am
I totally agree with the ice coffee + scarves combo ;)
Emily @ Random Recycling September 24, 2011 at 10:31 am
What a great idea! I'm going to try to do the overnight deal with my french press. I'm still nursing and (mostly) drinking decaf, which I agree is hard to find. Although Starbucks could do a great decaf latte when I wanted a treat! ~Emily (visiting from LBS, glad I found your site!)
Kate, aka guavalicious September 24, 2011 at 10:39 am
The pictures of the milk and coffee are gorgeous. Wish I could keep it swirly!
Hot Coco @ Flab to Fab September 24, 2011 at 3:28 pm
I'm visiting from LBS! This reminded me of The Pioneer Woman's iced coffee method - including the mention of the sweetened condensed milk - and I love the idea of coconut milk and agave for another layer of flavor, even though I'm not Vegan. Great post for a coffee lover like me. Thank you. :-)
Amrita September 24, 2011 at 4:43 pm
Oh, you're making me miss my Vietnamese ex-flatmate! She used to make coffee for us every evening, after we got back from college. What a comfort! Your iced coffee looks delish!
Nina September 24, 2011 at 5:50 pm
I am an ice coffee nut! I love the trick with the ice cubes so it does not get watery. Will definitely try that next time.I am from the from lady bloggers tea party!
Marcy September 25, 2011 at 11:56 am
This looks really good. I haven't tried making iced coffee at home before. I found you on the Lady Blogger Tea Party.
Jules from A Little Bite of Life September 25, 2011 at 1:52 pm
Visiting from Lady Bloggers--Your coffee looks wonderful-I want some right now!
Callie @ Callieflower Kitchen September 26, 2011 at 9:22 pm
I just put my iced coffee mix in the fridge - hope mine turns out looking as good as yours :)
Heather September 27, 2011 at 8:22 am
You'll have to let me know how it turns out! :)
Olivia September 27, 2011 at 11:25 pm
I loved making iced coffee at home and never though of making coffee ice cubes. What a great idea! I can't wait to try it asap.
ann-marie March 7, 2012 at 11:17 am
I had to give up my vietnamese iced coffee when I cut most lactose out of my life a while back, I am so going to try this! Thank you =)
Eric Wood May 23, 2012 at 1:37 am
Here's a tip.... instead of making such a small batch, use 2 quarts of spring water to 4 ounces of coffee. Perfect amount for a small pitcher (mine is just over 2 qts). Put it in the fridge overnight... strain in the morning (or whenever)... and you 're all set for many glasses over the next few days. Enjoy!
Holly May 30, 2012 at 8:44 pm
Recipe looks delicious and I'll definitely be trying it. I do want to say though that Starbucks never has a pot of decaf sitting around. They make it on demand if requested. :)
Julianna November 5, 2012 at 5:27 pm
I used to work at an independently owned coffee shop 15 years ago and we cold brewed like your recipe states – it tastes great! We used giant/industrial sized paper coffee filters to make jumbo “coffee bags” to steep 1 lb of coffee at a time. Here’s how you can make the “coffee bag” and omit the straining step in the recipe. I would split the amount of grounds in half and use two basket style paper filters for this recipe’s amount. First put the grounds in the filters and then fold the filter in half – basically bring the edges together. Next fold the edges down by about a ¼ inch or less – fold the edge twice! Next, staple every inch or so on the folded edge to close your “coffee bag”. Be sure to leave space in the bag for the grounds to steep properly - the grounds should have room to move around. (The end result looks like a calzone or pierogi shape.) You can drain out the extra water from the bag after brewing is done by removing the coffee bag and pressing while in a mesh strainer. Or you can just remove the coffee bag after brewing to make a slightly less strong iced coffee. Thanks for the Vegan Condensed Milk recipe! I was looking for one that was a soy alternative. I can’t wait to try it!
jessica ferrante February 26, 2013 at 1:51 am
This sounds amazing can't wait to try it. What brand of coffee do/did you use for this?
Lynn July 22, 2013 at 1:44 pm
Great recipe!! Love ice coffee...but, to me, the coffee ice cubes make the delicious concoction bitter unless one freezes coffee cubes made up the same way as the ice coffee with sweetener and creamy goodness. My opinion, for what it's worth.
Heather July 23, 2013 at 1:35 pm
That's a good point! I like the bitterness of black coffee which is probably why I never noticed. ;)
Stephanie C July 22, 2013 at 6:26 pm
Um yeah, so going to make this soon!! I can't have enough iced coffee. Can I substitute honey for the agave? Sorry, if asked already :)
Heather July 23, 2013 at 1:35 pm
Absolutely! :)
Renata November 11, 2013 at 7:28 pm
This recipe is divine. Thanks for teaching me how to make this perfect iced coffee!
RavenFire February 4, 2015 at 11:13 am
Absolutely brilliant
cách tán gái April 18, 2017 at 11:52 am
I am a coffee lover from Vietnam. Your recipe is really good to make coffee for breakfast

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