Make Ahead

Magical Coffee

September  7, 2021
31 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland. Prop Stylist: Veronica Olson. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog.
  • 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 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 —The Editors

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, half-and-half, or cream, 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 milk to taste.
  4. Die of happiness.
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132 Reviews

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.
Joan H. August 19, 2018
This would make great popsicles.
Kim W. September 14, 2018
Oh my, yes, popsicles...brilliant!
maggiesara June 17, 2018
For all the anal coffee fiends out there -- and you know who you are -- 2/3 cup coarsely ground coffee = 22 grams, by my measure.
lajuliaficationdumonde August 12, 2018
Kt4 September 2, 2018
😆 <3 this
JoJo March 7, 2020
Sorry did not mean to flag your comment. Don’t know how to take it off
Linda June 16, 2018
This easily replaced my coffee house vanilla sweet cream cold brew. The flavor is just fantastic! I didn’t have dark brown sugar so used raw sugar crystals and it’s great!
LULULAND June 12, 2018
Love this, the flavor with the freshly ground cinnamon, wowy!
uzm December 30, 2022
I recently tried Coffee Crisp Chocolate Bars Coffee Crisp Chocolate Bars and was pleasantly surprised by the flavor. The combination of the coffee-flavored crisp and rich chocolate was really delicious. The crunchy texture of the crisp was a great contrast to the smoothness of the chocolate. The bar itself was also surprisingly light and airy, making it a great snack for any time of day. I would definitely recommend giving these bars a try - they are definitely worth it!