The Best Way to Make Iced Coffee (It Isn’t Cold Brew)

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.

Things can get fun from there: You could add a dash of simple syrup before shaking if you prefer a little sweetness, or even shake the drink with milk if that's your thing. (IMHO, it’s a good thing.) Sweetened condensed milk? Go for it. If you really want to go over the top, you can garnish your iced coffee with an orange peel or mint sprig, or add orange bitters when you’re shaking. If you can’t be bothered to strain, just dump the shaken drink and its ice into a glass; though I’ll warn you that it’s slightly more difficult to drink that way, given the glassful of ice chips bumping into your mouth.

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No espresso machine? You can shake up the shots you make in a stovetop moka pot-type brewer. I don’t currently own one of these, but my highly caffeinated coworkers highly recommend trying it. (Kendra Vaculin likes hers with a drop of maple syrup.)

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Runner up: Flash-Brewed Aeropress

If you don’t have an espresso machine or stovetop moka pot, you’re not out of luck: this runner-up drink is also delicious. It starts with an Aeropress, which may be the best bang-for-your-buck piece of coffee equipment around, especially when outfitted with a metal filter gismo that increases the possible pressure (getting it closer to espresso-style coffee) and allows you to skip the paper filters.

For Aeropress iced coffee, there’s a lot of hubbub about a cold-water two-minute method that the Aeropress website recommends, but I preferred Moser’s flash-brewed recipe when I put them head-to-head. This method gives you iced coffee that’s vibrant and balanced.


Before you get started, if you’re using a paper filter, you may want to rinse it with hot water first and discard any water, and set up your Aeropress on a sturdy cup or mug. All you’re going to do is brew a hot coffee concentrate in the Aeropress, using a ratio of 1 part coffee to 10 parts hot water. So: you’ll use 17 grams of coffee (ground slightly finer than table salt) and 170 grams hot water, just off the boil (roughly 205°F, if you’re taking temperatures). Stir the mixture, place the plunger on top, and let sit for two minutes. Meanwhile, weigh out 102 grams of ice in your serving glass. (A big rocks glass is nice!) Now plunge, slow and steady, stopping when you hear the hiss. Immediately pour this concentrate over your ice, stir and enjoy.

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In coffee, there’s always some dialing in to do: if, on the first try, your coffee is too weak, then grind a bit finer. If it’s too bitter and strong, and a bit muddy, let the grind go a bit coarser on your next round.

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About the Author: Thien Bao

Hello, my name is ThienBao. I am a freelance developer specializing in various types of code.