The Secret to Better Iced Coffee

Consider this a public service announcement.

Usually I don’t care what you eat.  You only eat foraged foods?  You only eat Cheetos?  You’re on a cabbage-based fad diet?  Ok.  Cool.  I can work with that.

But there is one thing that bothers me.  (You have something that bothers you too, right?  Something?  Feel free to make me feel better by sharing in the comments.) Mine might be the world’s strangest pet peeve, but at this time of year it’s everywhere I look.  It’s this business of the ice in summer’s ubiquitous iced coffee.

Here in Seattle, it does get warm enough to enjoy iced coffee occasionally in the summertime.  I really prefer to make my own, though, because even Seattle’s own coffee shops, which should know better, commit a grave offense in serving their otherwise-delicious cold brew: they put actual ice in it.  Ice as in frozen water.  No!Coffee should be a strong, black brew, tempered only by something creamy or something sweet if your tastes incline that way.  Adding water to my coffee, even in the form of ice cubes, is unforgivable.

The solution, of course, is simple.  Take the time to freeze a tray of coffee ice cubes, and plunk a couple in your cup next time you want your coffee cold.  As they melt, instead of creating a watery, undrinkable mess, they make…more coffee.  You see how this is a winning proposition?

You can hot-brew or cold-brew your coffee, sweeten it or don’t.  I like a spoonful of cinnamon mixed into the coffee grounds, myself.  But I wouldn’t presume to tell you how to make your coffee.  What I will tell you is this: the secret to making better iced coffee is now in your hands.The Secret to Better Iced Coffee: Make coffee, freeze in ice cube trays, add to cold coffee.

And hey, if you know of someplace in Seattle that uses coffee ice cubes in their iced coffee, will you let me know?


54 thoughts on “The Secret to Better Iced Coffee

  1. baconbiscuit212

    Yes! I agree! This is the absolute best way to insure that your coffee doesn’t become a watered-down, nasty mess.

    Although, I have to admit that because it’s cold and comes with a very efficient delivery system (a straw), I tend to mainline the coffee so fast that the ice hardly has time to melt.

    My foodie pet peeve is not really related to food, but etiquette. I really, really, really, really dislike bad table manners. Use a fork and a knife. Don’t give me a steak knife if I’m not eating steak. Know the difference between a soup, table and dessert spoon. Don’t mix up salad and dinner forks. Put them in the right place. And use a napkin for heaven’s sake. This is America!


    But seriously. That drives me crazy. And also people who smudge up the bowls of wine glasses with their sticky, hot little paws that are warming the wine up and making any odd vegetal notes more prominent. Hold it by the stem, people!

    Oh, Emmy. I’m ranting. Forgive me and my snobbery!

    1. emmycooks Post author

      I see the point about the drinking it quickly, but I tend to put my cup down to tie a shoelace or whatever and sometimes it takes me a while to get back to it. Now I am going to have to seriously watch my manners when we finally meet for lunch! :)

  2. Cauldrons and Cupcakes

    LOL, Daisy! I can so relate…

    Emmy, I would have never thought to do this! Must admit that as we slide into winter down here, iced coffee is looking like distant dream, but one day…

    Meanwhile I shall make Meyer lemon madness, sip hot chai and dream of days warm enough to enjoy a cold beverage. :D xx

    1. emmycooks Post author

      I’ll mostly be drinking hot beverages along with you since summer is so wintry here! Maybe that’s why I’m so exacting about my iced coffee when I do get a chance to enjoy it. :)

      1. triathlonobsession

        Have you tried making the iced coffee itself with a toddy? Let coffee soak in water overnight then strain it. Much stronger and smooth because you don’t stimulate the acid. Then add coffee cubes!

  3. Desi Chick

    Delicious! If only the coffee houses took this advice and served it with coffee ice cubes. I agree with Daisy though, I am like an elephant in a kiddie pool, I suck up the coffee too fast to give the ice cubes a melting chance!

  4. msmckibbon

    So funny! I just made myself my first iced-coffee of the season this morning and used my coffee cubes (I blended it with milk in the blender though). I’ve been doing this for years because it’s easy and WAY cheaper. I also make tea cubes for iced tea. I also will ice my tea with orange and lemon cubes. The flavor combos are endless and awesome!

    1. emmycooks Post author

      Especially at this time of the evening, I start to really think fondly of the first strong cup of coffee I’ll be enjoying tomorrow morning. :)

      1. Somer

        Hehe! Religious thing. But I must admit I use caffeine sometimes when I run in the form of energy gels or drinks, but lately it has been in the form of yerba mate since it is a more natural source.

    1. emmycooks Post author

      I don’t know about the general public, but why don’t COFFEE SHOPS do this? They should be obsessively thinking about how to improve my coffee experience, as I always am. :)

  5. Michelle

    You are absolutely correct! I had never thought of it myself, but a place in N.C. that we used to visit when at the beach did it and I was like, oh my god, why didn’t I think of this? The sad coda to the story is that we went back a year later and the adorable little coffee shop was gone and some stupid national chain had taken its place. And, needless to say, they didn’t have coffee ice cubes.

    1. emmycooks Post author

      It does improve my iced coffee experience, that’s for sure. But have you tried cinnamon in your coffee yet? Because THAT might be the best idea ever. :)

      1. Allison

        Oh yes, not only is ground cinnamon regularly sprinkled generously over the coffee filter in my house before we hit “brew,” but the only coffee that my girlfriend ever buys is called “Vienna Cinnamon.” (I like to mix it with other coffees because it’s not strong enough for me, so that’s when we add extra cinnamon.)

  6. hannah

    We make them with decaf, and then at night after the kids are in bed we can make a lame imitation granita di cafe con panna, which is our favorite treat when traveling in Rome. Using them in iced coffee would probably be much less disappointing ;) My pet peeve (ironic here): ice in my water at restaurants. I like my water iced, but no ice in the glass, please. Thanks. :)

    1. emmycooks Post author

      I SO agree. Although between the recommendations here and on FB, I now have two strategies to avoid it: (1) order small and drink fast! and (2) order espresso on ice. The collective brain is so helpful! :)

  7. Bob Vivant

    Emmy–you’re a genius. Just filled one of our ice cube trays with coffee. It’s going to be a hot one here tomorrow, but I’ll still be able to enjoy my morning coffee. Cheers!

  8. Pingback: A summer fling with a coffee bean: Mocha Shortbread Cookies with Ganache | duffie by day

  9. duffiebyday

    This is brilliant. I tried it and think I need to add it to my rather lengthly list of summer-things that I have crushes on… I am so impressed, I reported your genius on my blog post today…

  10. SR Dryja

    As you perhaps can tell from the name of my blog and some of my blog posts, I am a wee bit obsessed with coffee. And, although I am not a stickler for how others drink it, I am a stickler about it for myself. It must not contain sweetener or cream and it must be hot. (One of the many reasons Seattle and I got along so well when I lived there–most of the year it was hot-coffee weather.)

    Sadly, though, being based these days in the desert of Phoenix, Arizona, summers aren’t always kind to those of us who prefer our java steaming. Occasionally I have to go against my strongest instincts about coffee and add a cube or two of ice. The Horror! (Even as I write this, my stomach is all in knots cringing over those cubes of polluting ice in my precious drink!)

    Now you have given me a work-around for this. When it is absolutely necessary to add ice to my coffee, I will add coffee ice cubes! Hooray! I will also be preaching this gospel to coffee houses I frequent around Phoenix and elsewhere. It just makes sense.

    1. emmycooks Post author

      I’m so glad to hear that this might ease the pain of living someplace so nice and warm that you have to drink iced coffee. :) As a fellow coffee lover, I agree that frozen coffee cubes are the only acceptable way to go. Glad to hear that you’ll be spreading the word!


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