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The Ultimate Iced Coffee Taste Test

The Ultimate Iced Coffee Taste Test

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Iced coffee: It’s a refreshing jolt of caffeine that keeps us going on long, hot summer days. We all have a go-to iced coffee, whether it's from a chain or independent coffee shop. So naturally, while we fight off a heat wave, we had to find out — who makes the best iced coffee?

Click here to view the Ultimate Iced Coffee Taste Test slideshow

Of course, the art of iced coffee boils down to a science; some chains use the cold-brewing method, while some independent shops use pour-over or double-strength brewing methods. To learn more about the processes, we talked to Major Cohen, Starbucks coffee educator and product manager with 18 years of Starbucks experience. The chain used the common cold-brewing method for its iced coffee beginning in 1971, in which baristas put coffee grounds with water, let the concoction sit for a significant amount of time (often overnight), and allowed the flavors to slowly seep into the liquid. The chain later switched to the double strengh brewing method it uses today. This means doubling up on the amount of coffee grounds but leaving the amount of water the same. This way, the ice melts into the drink and makes up for its absence at brewing. The result is a coffee that is often crisper and less acidic (that lemony or grapefruit tang) than hot coffee. Cohen says that pouring hot coffee over ice isn’t necessarily less refreshing, it just has a different taste profile.

We also talked to Eva, a barista at Joe the Art of Coffee in New York City, where they cold-brew their coffee and saturate the grounds for 24 hours. Iced coffee connoisseurs (including ones at The Daily Meal) say they buy coffee from independent shops because of their cold-brew methods. But Alisa Martinez, Starbucks’ communications manager, says that there is a certain stigma associated with supporting the large coffee chain (one whose humble practices haven’t changed much since its beginnings in the 1970s). "We’ve been sourcing and roasting the finest coffee in the world for more than 40 years," Martinez says. So who makes the better iced coffee: the cold-brew guys or the big coffee chains?

On a warm, humid New York day, we braved the heat to get iced coffees from six chains — Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonald's, Burger King, 7-Eleven, and The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf — and two independent shops — Joe the Art of Coffee and Stumptown Coffee Roasters. Eleven participants performed a blind taste test of the unsweetened, black iced coffees (no sugar, milk, creamer, or flavoring added). (After all, we’re avoiding plenty of the sugar bomb iced coffees this summer.) We then tested for bitterness, aftertaste, and flavor notes. Once you taste them all in one sitting, you realize how different the coffees are.

After our taste test, some of our tasters are sticking to their morning favorites, while others may be changing where they head for their iced coffee runs. But do we reach for a cup just because of its logo? Do you think you know which coffee reigned supreme? The results may surprise you. Check out the slideshow to find out who (we think) makes the best iced coffee in America.

Although I did not find the drink to be as "full of flavor" as the chain's website mentions, this coffee had a crisp, light flavor that was enjoyable without being overwhelming.

This was definitely the most refreshing iced coffee I tried, and I would absolutely order this again.

Interestingly, this was also the cup of coffee that had the largest amount of ice in it. Usually, a lot of ice can lead to a super watery, overly diluted drink, but I was pleasantly surprised that wasn't the case here.

1. How to make cold-brewed iced coffee

Step 1: Pick high-quality beans

To brew a rich, creamy, andsatisfying iced coffee, the first thing you have to do is pick out good quality coffee beans. You can tell the quality from their color and size.

Generally speaking, small, weak, or blonde roasts are of lower quality. Most people agree that big, robust, dark roasts are usually better. My personal recommendation is Ladro Blend. It’s big size and bold shape make it a great choice for making iced coffee.

Step 2: Grind your coffee beans

Take out a cup of whole coffee beans and start grinding. The amount of coffee beans needed will vary according to your individual tastes and the recipe you are using.

The flavor of coffee can be maximized through proper grinding. Usually, the finer the grind, the more quickly the coffee can be brewed.

To make cold-brewed iced coffee, you will need medium-ground coffee. To save time, you can grind the coffee beans at a coffee shop. I usually prefer to grind beans at home to get the freshest taste.

Step 3: Add water and stir

Put the ground coffee into a 200ml jar, add water, and then stir. Blend the grounds and water thoroughly. During the stirring process, magic happens.

The magic smell created by billions of coffee molecules and water molecules colliding with each other gives your nose a pleasant and exciting experience.

Step 4: Wait patiently

Cover the jar with the lid and place it somewhere that has no direct sunlight. And now all you have to do is to wait between 6 to 12 hours. The rest happens naturally.

Step 5: Strain

There are hundreds of ways to strain coffee. Use your imagination and find some material and objects that you think might work.

And then Use a French press to filter the coffee concentrate.

Use a coffee filter and funnel. Put the filter in the funnel and then pour the coffee concentrate into the filter.

A paper towel might be the cheapest and most common thing you can find at home. You can also use them to strain coffee with a bowl and sieve. However, paper towels often leave small white paper particles in the brew, and paper towels are not recommended unless it’s the last resort.

Use a nut milk bag. This is a bag made from cheesecloth and/or nylon, intended for straining many different items. You can buy one online or in a store nearby. It is my favorite choice to filter the coffee concentrate.

Step 6: Enjoy your iced coffee

Here comes your “Dear Diary” moment! Place some ice cubes in a tall glass. Pour ½ cup of cold filtered water and the same amount of coffee concentrate into the glass. If you like, you can also add some sweetener or cream.

Now you can start enjoying the intense flavor of this cold-brewed coffee. Some prefer to consume with a straw, but it’s up to you. The pleasure of drinking coffee is with you the whole day.

The Best Bottled Iced Coffees, Ranked. Here Are The Results Of Our Taste Test.

It's iced coffee season, but that doesn't necessarily mean you're in the mood to make it every morning. Even if you cold-brew big batches of your own concentrate with a Filtron or Toddy -- and you should -- there will inevitably be days when you can't even muster the energy to mix it. Or you find yourself craving coffee, but you're surrounded by more gas stations than proper coffee shops.

For these occasions and more, bottled iced coffee can be a savior. But which to buy?

HuffPost conducted a taste test of several brands back in 2011, but the category has exploded since then -- along with cold-brew coffee in general -- so it was time for another head-to-head competition. We rounded up all the brands of iced coffee with milk and sugar we could find to see which one we liked best.

Frankly, our 12-person panel wasn't very enthusiastic about most of the options. Many of the bottled iced coffees available are just too sweet. That may reflect the coffee-drinking preferences of most American consumers, but it didn't sit well with us.

But we found one brand we loved, and several others that would be totally adequate in a pinch.

My friends and family swear by this frosty creamy coffee. Everyone loves it. I love to have it on hot summer evenings when I just sit back and relax in my courtyard.

It is my love for coffee which compels me to try different coffee recipes. And when I am 100% confident with my ingredients and the recipe, I share it with all of you. I also make sure that my recipes are healthy and everyone can try them easily. This mocha iced coffee recipe is simple to follow and does not take more than 10 minutes to make. I am sure no one wants to spend more time in the kitchen in this hot weather.

The best part about this coffee is that I used chocolate milk to alleviate the taste. The taste is divine. Imagine two of your favorite drinks combined: chocolate milk and coffee. It’s like your childhood and adulthood merged and made a masterpiece as a result.

I used brown sugar as a sweetener and made some ice cubes with my leftover coffee. This will give extra richness to the taste. Leftover coffee ice cubes work wonders in coffee. Instead of using regular ice cubes that are bound to dilute the rich taste of the coffee. You just need to take some time before and freeze the extra coffee that you didn’t know what to do with.

As for the choice of a sweetener, brown sugar is a better and healthier choice plus you need it in a low amount because chocolate milk is already sweet. I made chocolate milk with some cocoa powder but you can also buy it from the store. For the mocha iced coffee, first of all, you’ll need to brew some coffee. Once it is at room temperature add some home-made chocolate milk to it (If you like you can blend the coffee and milk together for extra frothiness). Next, prepare a glass with 2 to 3 coffee ice cubes. Now pour coffee in the chilled glass. Use some whipped cream for topping. And Voila! Enjoy your best cup of coffee. Do tell how you liked it after trying this coffee. I would appreciate your feedback very much.

How to make the best iced coffee: shake your espresso

Iced coffee brewed with cold water can be bland, but of course, there are problems with hot water, too. If you pour your regular steaming hot coffee over ice, that ice melts, adding too much water to the mix and making it weak.

A Japanese method that’s been around for a long, long time circumvents this problem: in Japanese-style flash-brewing, the brewing water is hot, but the recipe takes the ice in your serving vessel into account, so the total amount of water isn’t increased. Getting hot, concentrated—and aromatically rich—coffee immediately onto ice that melts to add only as much water as you wanted to add makes for much more flavorful, dynamic iced coffee.

You’ll see how that theory is applied below, but espresso is sort of the outlier. If you’re lucky enough to have an espresso machine at home, you’re probably pulling shots that are concentrated enough that they can handle a touch of dilution. It’s easy to let your shot drip directly into a cup of ice with a few ounces of water in it to make an iced Americano, but if you really want to treat yourself, a little extra effort makes the best iced coffee I’ve made at home.

Get out your cocktail shaker. (I said this method was extra, didn’t I?) Essentially, we’re making an Italian shakerato, though you can customize it to your taste. At its most basic, you’re going to pull your shot and dump it into a cocktail shaker that’s filled with ice. Seal and shake vigorously until the shaker is cold to the touch on the outside—this could take 15 seconds or even more. Strain into a glass that’s filled with fresh ice. The coffee will be frothy and flavorful, and very, very cold.

10 Ways to Achieve Cold Brew Coffee Greatness

There are three things that iced coffee should be: strong, bracingly cold, and in your hand as soon as possible. Unfortunately, it can also be expensive, so we're big fans of DIY cold brew coffee. It couldn't be easier to make (really, the process is about 90% hands-off), and as a bonus, it's ready and waiting in your fridge for when you need it most. Here are 10 ways to make a great thing even better, from frothy coconut milk to cinnamon simple syrup.

Granulated sugar won't dissolve properly in any cold liquid, coffee included. Beat the system by making a big batch of simple syrup and using that to sweeten your iced coffee. Add a cinnamon stick to the syrup as it cooks and strain it out before cooling. Other complementary flavors to infuse include: cardamom, nutmeg, and rosemary. Allie Caran, head of education at Toby's Estate in Brooklyn, says that lavender and a combination of basil and mint are also refreshing (and summer-friendly) options.

That can of coconut milk can do a lot more than fill out your curry. It adds a sweetness and ultra-rich texture to iced coffee. Keep it in the fridge before adding, so your beverage stays frosty. Full-fat coconut milk will yield the best results.

"Mix cold brew concentrate with equal parts coconut water. It tastes like chocolate milk!" says Solomon Olmstead, a barista at New York City's Café Grumpy.

Cold brew coffee is strong by nature, which makes it ideal for pouring over ice. But if you prefer things on the even stronger side, freeze extra coffee into cubes and use those to keep your cool.

Or, suggests Eden Abramowicz, retail buyer for L.A.-based Intelligentsia Coffee, add one gigantic (water) cube, like you would to a glass of whiskey. (You can buy ice molds specific for this). The mega cube will chill the coffee without melting so fast that it dilutes the brew.

Shake, shake, shake…shake, shake, shake… shake your… coffee. Photo: Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott

Pour your cold coffee into a cocktail shaker with ice cubes and simple syrup and let ɾr rip. Really put some muscle into it, then pour it into a glass. It'll be frothy with a creamy texture, despite having zero dairy.

Want to instantly change your coffee's flavor profile? Switch up the beans you're brewing. Ethiopian or Kenyan beans have lighter, more acidic notes, says Intelligentsia's Abramowicz: "They make for a citrusy, floral coffee that's great for summer." But, says Caran, if you're going to combine your coffee with creamy dairy products, it's better to use beans with a deeper profile, like Brazilian Samambaia.

Almond milk is a common substitute for dairy milk, but why stop there? Abramowicz is a big fan of a macadamia-almond blend, which is creamy, sweet, and a perfect match for coffee. Other nut milks worth seeking out: cashew and Brazil, or Brazil-almond blend.

Dunkin's Coconutmilk Iced Latte

Kaley Roberts/ Eat This, Not That!

A coconut milk latte for summer is a brilliant idea for both health and marketing reasons. Chalk it up to my lack of barista experience, but I didn't realize it was possible to make a latte with coconut milk. The consistency is nothing like other milk subs.

But Dunkin' did it, and they did it well. This is perhaps the most refreshing of this year's summer coffee lineup, with a more subdued sweetness than any of the others we tried. Will definitely drink again.

Pro-tip for when you try: ask for it without the signature Dunkin' flavoring that they definitely still slipped in. This guy would be better off without any added sugar at all.

It’s such a delight to drink iced coffee in the summer. For me, it’s the ultimate treat when it’s hot outside.
It’s so much less expensive to make your own iced coffee and you can really customize it to your liking.
I’m not a huge coffee fan but two things I can’t imagine living without are iced coffee and the best cookies, which I’ve been addicted to forever.
I’ve given a few tweaks to the coffee, below. Read on and choose whatever you like best.
Enjoy the ultimate iced coffee!


3 tsp instant coffee granules of choice
60 ml boiling water (1/4 cup)
80 grams sugar (1/3 cup)
800 ml cold milk (3 + 1/3 cups)
2 tsp real vanilla extract
Coffee extracts / ice cubes


1. Place the instant coffee granules and the boiling water in a bowl and whisk together for a few minutes until the coffee has completely dissolved and you’ve worked up a froth.

2. Add the sugar and continue whisking until completely dissolved.

3. Add the vanilla extract and the milk and whisk until well combined.

4. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes.

5. Options:
You can leave out the freezer step. I like my iced coffee ice cold so I freeze it briefly.
Place your glasses in the freezer for 10 minutes before serving the coffee.
Before pouring into a glass, add 2 coffee extracts.
You can place the coffee in a blender and add 6 extracts or ice cubes and blend, then pour into glasses.
You can also place in the freezer for a few hours and take it out to stir occasionally to make a granita.
You can add a scoop of your favorite ice cream.
Make it your own! You can also top with coffee whipped cream (recipe below).
Another tweak (I’m on a roll) is to add 100 ml of sweetened condensed milk and use 1 L of milk instead of 800 ml.
Want a stronger coffee taste? Add another teaspoon or instant coffee granules.

Coffee whipped cream:
250 ml whipping cream
1 Tbsp instant vanilla pudding powder mix
1 tsp instant coffee granules
2 Tbsp sugar

Whip all the ingredients into a stable whipped cream. Fill a piping bag and pipe over the glass of iced coffee, sprinkle some cocoa powder on top.

Good to know…
Let’s talk about the sugar. The reason why store / cafe-bought iced coffee is so tasty is because it’s packed with sugar. This recipe is for 4 cups of coffee. I suggest that everyone experiment with the amount of sugar to suit their tastes.
Everyone likes their coffee differently so experiment until you reach the desired result.

It is very easy to make the cold coffee at home. The first step is prepare the coffee solution and let it settle. Then with the prepared coffee solution, you can instantly make the cold coffee with scoop of your favorite ice-cream.

Make Cold Brewed Coffee:

  • Take a jar of glass and in that add the coarse grounded coffee.
  • Add half the quantity of water and stir.
  • Let the ingredients settle and combine properly with each other.
  • Cover the jar and keep it overnight to attain the room temperature.

Note: You can keep the coffee jar or container refrigerated for at least 12 hours or more.

Cold Coffee Recipe with Ice-Cream:

  • Fill a large tall glass with coffee ice-cubes.
  • Take the brewed coffee from the refrigerator and strain it.
  • Transfer some cold brewed coffee to the tall glass.
  • Mix some sugar for the sweet taste.
  • Add milk in the quantity you desire to have.
  • Transfer the mixture in a blender along with some ice cream scoops.
  • Blend till the coffee mixture becomes frothy.
  • Wait till the color of the dark coffee lightens.
  • Take the creamy coffee in a glass.
  • Drizzle the delicious Hershey’s chocolate syrup as needed.

And your ultimate coffee is ready for the ultra-dive of drink.

Note: You may use strainer with cheesecloth, fine sieve or paper coffee filter for draining the coffee.

Additional Information:

  • Calories: 30 calories
  • Total Time: PT10M
  • Serves: 3
  • Date Published: 2016-08-12

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The blend of brewed coffee with the coffee ice cubes is utterly delicious. The rich in taste cold coffee when poured in a tall glass looks extremely luring. When the smooth creamy texture lubricates over the tongue, it transports you to different world.

The chocolate coating over the creamy cold coffee simply enhances the drinking experience. Every coffee lover has 100 hundred reasons for why consume coffee. Without being health conscious or worry for calories, whisk the creamy coffee during stressed working days.

The use of ice-cream with the cold-coffee is indeed indulging. The restaurants do serve the cold coffee instantly but making at home is actually the wait worthwhile! Enjoy the cool café like coffee anytime at your comfort.


  • The cold coffee recipe mainly requires the use of fresh coffee beans.
  • It is prominent to use the dark and roasted beans for the strong and sharp results. You can also use more coffee if you want strong cold coffee.
  • You can use any sugar substitute if you are diabetic or diet centric.
  • If you do not have coffee beans would like to prepare fast then use instant coffee powder.
  • For the best results, use the full cream milk.
  • Add more ice cubes for the thick cold coffee.
  • You can use any ice-cream flavor for this cold coffee.
  • Try to add 1 tsp. of cocoa powder for the enhancement of taste and flavors.
  • Adjust the quantity of the sugar as the ice-cream is already sweet.
  • You can store the remaining coffee solution in refrigerator. You may have the next day.


Make having this delicious cold coffee an unforgotten experience for yourself. When preparing for guests at home, you can little creative and innovative to make coffee look more appealing to your eyes. Follow these simple ideas to decorate the glass of cold coffee:

  • Have a dark chocolate in your fridge? Grate some portion of it and garnish coffee cup.
  • Top the layer of the cold coffee with whipped cream.
  • You can also add a cinnamon stick to your coffee cup. It will act as a stir.
  • Also if you have the flavored milk, then try to add a few drops of vanilla extract.
  • Drizzle the chocolate syrup in the glass and rotate it to make a pattern.
  • Pour the cold coffee in the stylish and tall glass.
  • You can also garnish the coffee glass with:
    • Cream Swirls
    • Chocolate Dripping
    • Orange Peel
    • Fresh Raspberries


    • Top the cold coffee with the scoop of your favorite ice- cream and have it with almost anything.
    • You can have this cold coffee any time of the day.
    Quick Tip:
    • Always serve the coffee as you make it, as then the froth at the top will settle.
    • You can use the skimmed milk or the low-fat milk.
    • You may use fresh cream as well for extra frothiness.
    • If you have cough and cold, then do not use ice cubes.
    • This cold coffee with ice-cream is similar to Cappuccino.
    • The best ice-cream to use would be vanilla or chocolate.
    • Do not keep the cold coffee stored for longer time.
    • To make creamier coffee, use full fat whole milk without any water.
    • You can also use homemade thick Malai for the creamier texture.
    • You can use almond milk, soy milk, cashew milk or coconut milk, if you are a vegan or have milk allergies.

    The cold coffee recipe takes a bit of pre-planning. But the final flavor and rich texture pays of the effort. The ingredients used are normal. Cherish your day with a cup of refreshing cold coffee. You can also make instantly without any much of efforts. Cold Coffee is the life-blood for most of the people.

    Nothing can beat the creamy taste of milk blended with strong coffee. It is much better than the steamy and aromatic cup of hot coffee! This is a ‘cheaters’ iced cappuccino! This refreshing cold coffee is a must try for coffee lovers. This is a very basic cold coffee recipe. It is very easy to make, very quick and very good. It’s instant to prepare café-like cold coffee home.

    It’s just a mix of milk, coffee and cream. Blend the little cocoa powder for strong coffee and few ice cubes to make chilled. Every coffee lover has their own flavor of coffee. Some prefer strong whereas other like coffee with mild bitterness. No matter how you make, it’s always awesome to have sip of cold coffee. It is low calorie summer refresher, so you can have it every week or every other day without worrying about calories.

    This Cold Coffee Recipe is simple and easy. This refreshing drink with scoop of ice-cream is favorite drink of many. Everyone loves to order in hotel and cafes, but you try it at home as well. If you love to experiment with different types of coffee, then you can make homemade Espresso coffee. Even you can make this cold coffee in three different ways.

    Ingredients: Instant Coffee Powder, Warm Water, Sugar, Ice Cubes, Cream, Milk. (Use milk and cream in half proportions.)

    • Take a coffee mug or glass.
    • Add instant coffee powder with some sugar.
    • Pour in the warm water and stir well. Mix in few cubes and stir.
    • Add ice cubes in increment stages.
    • Top the cold coffee with the splash of cream.
    • Add some milk and stir.
    • And have your iced coffee immediately before the ice melts!
    1. Basic Iced Coffee

    Ingredients: Ice Cubes, Sugar, Cream, Milk and Coffee (room temperature or chilled).

    • Take the prepared coffee.
    • Let the coffee cool down a little.
    • Add the ice cubes in the tall coffee glass.
    • Pour the cooled coffee over the ice.
    • Add the milk and cream in the glass.
    • Add some sugar to taste.
    • Enjoy your delicious cold coffee before frothing settles.
    1. Cold Brew Iced Coffee

    Ingredients: Ground Coffee, Chilled Water, Sugar, Cream and Milk.

    • Firstly, take some chilled water in a jar and combine the ground coffee.
    • Close the jar lid and leave it in the fridge.
    • Fill a tall glass with ice.
    • Filter the coffee in the glass with the strainer placed over it.
    • Pour the strained coffee into the glass.
    • Mix milk, cream and some sugar.
    • Enjoy your cold coffee before it becomes warm!

    From the above methods, any which way you make the coffee, it’s going to be delicious. Add little fresh cream or a scoop of ice-cream to make the cold coffee creamier and thicker. It would increase the calories of your coffee and make it fatty, so be careful!

    From these various ways of making cold coffee, you either have to blend everything and make. Or else you have to make coffee syrup and store. The latter method of preparing cold coffee gives a different and strong flavor to your coffee. You can also use instant coffee powder but only if it is strong. You just have to boil the coffee with water. After straining the coffee, your syrup is ready to use.

    How can you make Plain Cold Coffee?

    You can make the cold coffee instantly without much wait and efforts. It is the plain cold coffee without the addition of ice-cream.

    • Take the instant coffee powder.
    • Add the cold milk and some fresh cream.
    • Mix the sugar in the mixture.
    • Add the cinnamon powder. (only if you want)
    • Also, add some crushed Elaichi.
    • Add few ice-cubes.
    • Blend everything till the smooth mixture forms.
    • Let the froth come up, stop the blender.

    How do you make Iced Coffee with Instant Coffee?

    To make the iced coffee with instant coffee you have to get coffee powder and milk. If you have fresh milk, then boil the milk. Keep it in the refrigerator to chill for some time.

    • Now, take milk from the fridge.
    • Dissolve instant coffee powder.
    • Add the sugar in the warm boiling water.
    • Allow the coffee to cool.
    • Blend the coffee mixture and milk in a blender.
    • Add cream along with crushed ice.
    • Blend till it becomes frothy.
    • Garnish with cream swirls.
    • Serve the coffee chilled.

    How do you make Homemade Iced Coffee?

    This creamy and rich iced coffee is a yummy and refreshing summer treat. It is a perfect chilling treat for a warm summer evening. You can easily buy the iced coffee from the cafes and the shops, but homemade coffee tastes better. It is hygienic and also costs less. There are various ways you can prepare cold coffee at home, you can customize the taste of coffee as per suitable to your taste palates.

    • Take a closed container or an airtight jar.
    • Add the instant coffee powder with the sugar.
    • Combine it with milk and warm water. Close the lid of the jar and shake.
    • Keep on shaking until it is foamy and froths.
    • Open the lid and pour coffee into a glass full of ice.
    • Add more milk or cream if you want.
    • Adjust the taste of sugar and coffee if necessary.

    How do you make Indian Coffee?

    The Indian coffee is also known as Indian espresso. It is made with instant coffee powder, milk, cream and pinch of cardamom powder. It is the cold version of homemade Masala Garam Chai which uses coffee instead of tea. The steps to make Indian coffee are: