5 Ways to Make Iced Coffee Better

June 11, 2014

It is officially iced coffee season. So today, Stumptown Coffee's Katie Bernstein is showing us how to make our cold brew better -- from gear to add-ins, like ice cream and booze.

Iced Coffee on Food52

Good iced coffee is much more than just the sum of its parts. The right method and the right coffee to use also depend on what you’re going for -- if you want a sweet, smooth, syrupy coffee, try the cold brew method and stick to coffees with darker chocolate and berry notes. (We use the Stumptown House Blend in our Cold Brew stubbies.) If you’re the fruity-floral type, an iced Aeropress of a single-origin Ethiopian coffee will do right by you. But beware: Iced coffees go down smooth and easy, but they pack a potent punch. Sip slowly, or add lots of ice, water, or milk to keep you from flying too close to the sun. 

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Now, to get down to brass tacks: 

1. Don't brew drip coffee as you normally would and then pour it over ice. It will taste watery and bitter, and you’ll lose clarity and sweetness. Instead, try cold brewing. Making true cold brew takes time -- about 16 hours, in fact -- but it’s well worth the effort. The sweet, strong concentrate will last for about two weeks and will sail you through summer's warm, hazy days. We love the Filtron brewer for at-home cold brewing. 

More: Get our tips on making your own batch of cold brew.

Cold Brew Coffee on Food52

2. Use an Aeropress! This is another really great option for brewing iced coffee at home or on the go. It’s not cold brew, mind you, but it makes for a quick and portable, sweet and full-bodied brew that is oh-so-lovely when cooled down. We like the inverted method poured over ice, brewed with an espresso blend like Hair Bender. The ice dilutes the strong brew, and there’s no need to add water -- unless it’s a little too bold for your blood. 

More: Pair your coffee with donuts -- we've got everything you need on Provisions.

Brown Butter Pecan Ice Cream on Food52

3. Make it into a float -- cold brew coffee is a dream with ice cream. Pair it with this Browned Butter Pecan Ice Cream and a dust of Jacobsen Coffee Salt, or top it with Vanilla Bean Coconut Milk ice cream for a dairy-free option. 

4. Take it outside, because great coffee is even better with a view. Brew it yourself and pack it in a mason jar for road trips and rooftops. Stumptown also makes stubbies (and cartons with milk, coming soon to the East Coast!) to grab and tuck into coolers and picnic or bike baskets. You'll appreciate this when you’re on the road, face to face with stale gas station swill or heading home after a day in the sun. 

The Firlock on Food52

5. Just add booze. Cold brew, combined with spirits, makes for a perfect brunch cocktail that's both buzzy and boozy. Start with the Firlock.

The Firlock

Serves 1

1 1/2 ounces Fernet Branca
1/2 ounce simple syrup
5 ounces cold-brewed coffee
Lemon twist, for garnish

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by James Ransom 

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Brandon Ryan
    Brandon Ryan
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Katie Bernstein

Written by: Katie Bernstein

Forever barista and current social media tweep at Stumptown Coffee Roasters. Born in the South; at home in the Northwest. Hard-nosed recipe reader. I like a good shelf. Soup for days.


Brandon R. June 14, 2014
Mr_Vittles June 12, 2014
Living in South Korea, they are crazy for "Dutch Coffee" or what we call Kyoto-style cold brew. I think it really does not make any better coffee than full immersion-style cold brew. They charge an arm and a leg for it. // I like my ice coffee Rhode Island-style. 50-50 blend of sweetened, homemade coffee syrup and milk, served over ice. Yum!
Marian B. June 11, 2014
I like the Firlock because I can enjoy it in the morning, in the evening, at suppertime...it's the Bagel Bites of cocktails. And I'll be drinking it all summer long.
hardlikearmour June 11, 2014
Beware! The Stumptown coffee and milk cartons are addictively delicious with just the right amount of milk and sweetness.