Make Ahead

Magical Coffee

April 21, 2023
43 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
  • Prep time 8 hours
  • Serves 2 to 4
Author Notes

This recipe was inspired by a drink I love at a local café. (Theirs is "magic coffee.") After my first taste, I went home and immediately started tweaking a recipe. They brew the coffee hot, but since it was summer and I am lazy, I wanted to use a cold-brewed coffee base, and I started with a recipe from the New York Times. There's lots of room for variation depending on what flavors you like—I did a Scandinavian version with white sugar, almond extract, and crushed fennel seeds too. —ErinH

Test Kitchen Notes

"One of those recipes that's a great concept rather than a precise formula, ErinH's iced coffee takes inspiration from both her local coffee house and Mexican café de olla. Adding a teaspoon of cinnamon and a few spoonfuls of dark brown sugar to the coffee as it cold-brews gives it a lush sweetness and a hit of warmth. After a night in the fridge, you strain the coffee and pour it over ice cubes. Then comes the cream. (Or milk, depending on your mood.) And then, as ErinH says, you 'die of happiness.' We loved this iteration and think her 'Scandinavian version' (using almond extract and fennel) sounds like a winner too." –A&M

"When we talk about new and better ways to brew coffee, we usually talk about new methods (like cold-brewing, or new machinery)—but today I need to talk about a coffee that’s all about the ingredients. It’s called magical coffee, and it’s going to change the way you think about iced coffee. What makes this coffee so special is the use of cinnamon, a brewing method popular in Morocco and the Middle East that adds spice and complexity to even the most basic cup of coffee. Coupled with a few tablespoons of dark brown sugar, the flavors in this overnight recipe are so much more than the sum of its parts. In the morning, add the milk or cream—or add a Scandinavian touch, as the recipe’s originator does, with fennel and almond extract—and there’s your magical coffee. The heat in this rich and full-bodied cold brew will wake you up like nothing else. What really makes this coffee magical, though, is how forgiving and adaptable it is. If you like, try cardamom in place of cinnamon, or both! And if you like a more velvety formula, do as the Vietnamese do, and use condensed milk instead of cream. No matter how you make it, the end result is something so delicious, it tastes like witchcraft." –Karen Lo

"Every so often you eat something magical. Something so special you can’t decide between taking your time to savor it, or chewing it as fast as possible so you can swallow it, so you can tell everyone around you just how good it is. These are mystical moments, far and few between. The experience of drinking this Magical Coffee is just that. Community member ErinH, who originally graced our site with the recipe, says she got it from a nearby cafe. But it's so good, we’re prone to thinking that maybe it came to her in a vision. Is it magic because it tastes amazing? Or because it’s so wildly simple to make? We're thinking a little of each. She starts by mixing coffee grounds, freshly grated cinnamon, and a pinch of brown sugar in a jar. These get covered in water and left alone for a night of beauty sleep. The next day, she pours the content through a sieve and into a tall glass of ice. She adds some milk or creamer (drinker's choice). And for the adventurous, Erin recommends a Scandinavian twist with almond extract and fennel seeds. You may be thinking: This is too easy. Well, it is! And it's a good thing. It's beautiful, in fact. In a world of hard things, maybe there's relief in knowing that this one easy thing really works. It sits all night, waiting for you in the morning, to wake up to and pour. And with that first sip, you're almost guaranteed to start your day feeling pretty magical yourself." –Valerio Farris

A perfect pick-me-up any time of the day, this coffee method relies on a low-effort cold brew, which also allows all the lovely flavor to imbue overnight as it rests. We love the suggestion of fennel and almond, as fennel provides a dark licorice-like, slightly savory flavor that's perfect foil to the sweet, marzipan-esque notes of almond extract. —Food52

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Magical Coffee
  • Coffee Base
  • 3 cups water
  • 2/3 cup coarsely ground coffee
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Assembly
  • Ice, for serving
  • milk or half-and-half, to taste
  1. Coffee Base
  2. In a quart jar, stir the water, coffee, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  1. Assembly
  2. Pour the coffee base through a fine-mesh sieve or strainer into a medium bowl, then strain back into the jar for easy storage.
  3. For each drink: Fill a tall glass halfway with ice. Pour in the coffee until the glass is about three-quarters full. Add the creamer or milk to taste.
  4. Die of happiness.
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138 Reviews

[email protected] August 19, 2023
This coffee is indeed magical! So so good on a warm day poured over ice with milk (also works with non dairy milks, i.e. almond, etc...). Ive taken off one star simply because it is super granular and the straining is time consuming. I use a mesh strainer AND cheese cloth and still have some grounds in the glass. But never mind - its worth it! (I make a double batch).
[email protected] August 19, 2023
ps I use 2 tablespoons of sugar instead of 3. It is PLENTY sweet with 2.
Manybears July 15, 2023
This is a good start and decent on its own, but adding orange zest (like the cafe de olla it's heavily inspired by) sends it over the top. I haven't yet found the right balance of fennel and almond extract for the scandi version but it was also worthwhile. Thanks!
Cjlcurtis July 12, 2023
This stuff is truly magical, I look forward to it everyday now! Such a treat. Might cut the sugar to 2 Tbsp. next time, just a little too sweet for me.
Steven W. June 27, 2023
So, cold brew with brown sugar. Ha! I will have to try this on a day when I feel like a sweet iced treat.
MirHantu January 9, 2023
There's nothing quite like settling down with a hot cup of coffee to watch a cricket match. The intensity of the game combined with the relaxing atmosphere of enjoying a drink make for a perfect combination. Whether it's a test match or a Twenty20 game, the excitement of watching top-level cricket is unbeatable. And when you add a delicious cup of coffee into the mix, it's hard to beat the experience. So if you're a fan of both cricket and coffee, make sure to carve out some time to sit back, relax, and enjoy the two together.
Pamela C. September 5, 2022
Question- Could you explain the "Scandinavian touch, as the recipe’s originator does, with fennel and almond extract"? Is the Fennel and extract or seed?
Pamela C. September 9, 2022
I saw Fennel seeds and almond extract. Thanks, I am ready to try this recipe.
arhodeland May 18, 2022
SO GOOD, even without the sugar and with decaf coffee instead of regular. Decaf coffee is notoriously horrible and this preparation is the only way that I've found to enjoy it!
carolynab September 24, 2021
Love this! I highly recommend purchasing a "coffee sock". I learned this tip from Ina!
Makes this so easy!
nikole D. August 1, 2021
This is thr most amazin recipe! I add a tablespoon of molasses too! Soooo good!!
aarichichi June 8, 2021
Yep, perfection. This drink definitely has roots from a lot of places, but tastes like a delicious (overpriced) concoction from your local cafe that you can get for cheaper & from the convenience of your fridge.
Hector M. March 27, 2021
This is literally Cafe de Olla, a Mexican drink. Give credit where it's due.
Jen August 29, 2020
And I wonder if you added frozen cube of milk/frozen cubes of coffee to it vs. regular water ice cubes? I do that for my regular iced coffee I make at home...
Laura G. August 25, 2020
This is delicious. I used half the amount of cinnamon and added a half a teaspoon of pure vanilla. So good.
OldGrayMare August 7, 2020
Arrrgh!! Saw the video on Facebook, and now am a prisoner of magical coffee!! It is my every day go-to as soon as I get home from my morning sweat-slog (central Florida). In the interest of better diet and my waistline, have decreased the sugar to 2 Tbsp...didn’t change the luxurious taste one bit.
Phifofum June 19, 2020
Saw the video for this on IG and made it that night. It's so easy and I just adjusted the brown sugar to taste. I use a french press and definitely need to give it a good stir in the morning. Would definitely recommend!
Brian June 10, 2020
For anyone who cares (I like measuring things by weight) another comment said 2/3 cup of coarse ground coffee was 22 grams, it’s more like 70 grams based on my measure 🤷🏻‍♂️
AnnieB May 21, 2020
This coffee blew my mind! The brown sugar smells great and the flavor is sublime!
Ava May 14, 2020
This serves 2-4 people and consist of 2/3 cups ground coffee, 3 T packed dark brown sugar, 32 oz. of filtered water , 1 tsp. Saigon Cinnamon, plus added milk, and the “concern” about the 3 T (1/4 cup) dark brown sugar, well I don’t get it, and I don’t want too.
Well any WHO, this coffee beverage is so delicious and satisfying. The caramel undertones from the dark brown sugar is the “MAGIC” component... otherwise it’s just cinnamon coffee. ;)
Gina J. April 12, 2020
This is heaven on earth.
Kim W. September 14, 2018
Yes, this is MAGICAL and so simple! I used only one tablespoon of brown sugar and it was delightful. The cinnamon gives it wonderful depth and the sweetness makes me smile.