For people who crave their daily dose of caffeine, drinking hot coffee can be a less than ideal experience during hot summer days or if you live in a warmer climate. That's where iced coffee comes in.

Iced coffee is the perfect drink for getting the deep, rich coffee flavor and caffeine boost during a heat wave. There are a few methods for making the perfect iced coffee, and each depends on how much time you have to devote to brewing the perfect refreshing cup.

A quick cup of iced coffee can be basic: brew coffee as you normally would, let it cool, add ice cubes and enjoy. Although this method works, there are better options for a full-flavored iced coffee. Traditional brewing methods, such as automatic drip or using a K-cup machine, are intended to produce hot coffee and simply adding ice cubes can dilute the flavor once they melt. To get ideal iced-coffee results the brewing method has to be rethought, and the process requires some time investment. The delicious results will be well worth the wait.

When it comes to iced coffee, cold brew is the way to go in terms of flavor. The longer the process, the better you can dial in flavor, reduce bitterness and ensure a consistent taste. The perfect cup of cold brew coffee just takes five steps:

Step 1: Make Coffee Concentrate

coffee grounds and beans on wooden background

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Since the cold brew method takes some time, it's a process you want to do in a batch. By creating a coffee concentrate about once a week, you can always have a supply of cold-brew on hand. Although there are numerous cold brewers and systems available, some of the best cold brew coffee can be made with the simple equipment you likely already have.

What You Need:

  • A large glass jar with a lid
  • Coarsely ground coffee. Buy whole beans and use the in-store grinder to select a coarse grind. Too fine a grind can result in muddy coffee. You'll need approximately two cups of ground coffee for this recipe.
  • Four cups of water
  • An ice cube tray

Instructions:

  • Fill the glass jar with the ground coffee and water. You can also add some optional ground cinnamon or a vanilla bean pod to add a layer of flavor to your standard coffee drink.
  • Stir the mixture and cover tightly. Place in the refrigerator for 12 hours.

Step 2: Make Coffee Ice Cubes

pouring coffee into an ice cube tray

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After the concentrate has been refrigerated for 12 hours, strain the mixture through a coffee filter or cheesecloth into another clean glass jar. Once strained, use about a cup of the concentrate to make coffee ice cubes.

Simply pour the coffee concentrate into an ice cube tray and freeze until solid -- this typically takes at least three hours. While the ice freezes, continue letting your remaining three cups of coffee concentrate chill in the fridge.

Step 3: Prep Your Drink

pouring cold brew coffee into a glass

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Once the ice is ready, place a few in your drinking glass of choice. You do not need more than two or three for each glass. If you would like an extra cold drink on an especially hot day, feel free to add some regular ice-cubes to the drink, although your end product might be diluted. Pour 1/2 cup of the coffee concentrate into the glass, and top with cold, clean drinking water. Your delicious iced coffee is now ready, unless you want to add some sweetness and milk.

Step 4: Make It Sweet

making syrup with water and sugar in a saucepan on the stove

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Because iced coffee is so cold, adding granulated sugar will result in a sandy, gritty texture. But if you need sweetener in your coffee, you can make a simple syrup. Just place a cup of sugar and a cup of water and in a saucepan over medium-low heat and let the sugar dissolve -- do not let this mixture boil or get too hot. Once the mixture is evaporated, take off the heat and let cool to room temperature before adding to your drink.

Step 5: Lighten It Up

milk being poured into iced coffee on white background

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If you prefer milk in your iced coffee, adding milk to your homemade cold brew will give you the perfect iced-latte flavor. The fat in milk reacts well to coffee molecules, creating a delicious flavor that many people enjoy. Milk will dilute the coffee flavor, but because you created a robust brew fortified with coffee-concentrate ice cubes, the final drink will taste more like coffee and less of milk and water.

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