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Iced Espresso. How To Make a Good, Good, Daily Coffee Drink

To say I’m an espresso aficionado is to say shoes are just okay. If there were a word to describe my unconditional love for the fine, dark, robust roast, I’d coin it. You’d think I started drinking espresso at an early age. Some kids in our family have. But truthfully, I didn’t get into it until I was in my early 20s. Though I knew having two shots was mandatory morning routine in our house, I didn’t appreciate anything about it except for that it made my mother terribly irritable if she didn’t have some within minutes of opening her eyes.

I’ve become my mother. My mornings are quiet and only perfect after I’ve had three shots of a Cuban brand. Add one teaspoon of raw sugar and un poco de creme and I’m off to a great day! I’m chastised by some of our Cuban friends for making it more of an Americanized café con leche, but it’s entirely too good to pass up and limit myself to a straight black shot. I reserve that for 4 pm or so when I’m feeling my head nod. But imagine this: a steamy hot demitasse of the best coffee in the world (yup, it really is) with a pinch of sweetness and toned down to a perfect mocha color.


Now that the weather has broken with record temperatures and spring is here, boasting colorful blossoms and vibrant stems, the thought of a blistering hot cup at 2 is not so sexy. It makes me sweaty just thinking about the unsexiness added heat would create! 90 degree weather and a piping drink. Not so much.

Iced coffee it is.

Since I’m always craving a super jolt, it’s quite sensical to enjoy the same concoction, only chilled. Iced coffee has become en mode in the last 10 years or so. I remember the first time I was treated to one back in D.C. The best coffee shop I’ve ever stepped in, had the most creative fusions of espresso and flavored syrups. With bigger national brands piercing forward, this innovative indie shop didn’t stand a chance, so back to the big cahoonas.

I wasn’t thrilled about paying $3 for a cup of cold coffee that I’d hook up with some sugar and creme. I pay that for a whole brick of the Cuban ish. It was only a matter of time before I started chilling the leftover morning brew for an afternoon sip. I only started two years ago and only if I remembered. That’s changed. And I’m terribly excited about it.

For the last two weeks, the only thing I been pressing my lips to at snack time, has been a mason jar of the good, good stuff. And muy frio!

There’s nothing more delicious than my morning cup of café con leche iced out and cold. It’s like getting an unexpected package full of chocolates or a call from Mami singing one her Latin ballad renditions. That’s stand around here.

But there are a few minor tricks to the magic of enjoying the perfect glass of iced café.

1. You must sweeten the entire brew while it’s still hot– something national coffee houses don’t do and some other sites have suggested. Sugar doesn’t dissolve so well or as fast in cold temperatures. It only makes sense to add it while it’s hot.

2. Don’t add ice to hot coffee! It’s only going to water it down — whether your’e chilling espresso or drip. What you should do is transfer your coffee into a sealed container and chill for 3 hours in at the fridge or 45 minutes in the freezer, depending on your appliance’s power.

3. One key step: Add creme (if that’s how you like it) only when you’re ready to have it. You want a well blended taste when you’re ready to have. Adding it before will allow the cream to settle in too much and make it a a bit too creamy, and even start separating.

4.  When you’re ready, add your chilled coffee to a martini shaker and add some ice. Shake it up and pour! This  makes for a perfectly even tall glass of iced espresso with a nice foam topping.

A few notes. If you want it instantly, icing it while it’s hot will only water down your coffee and dilute your robust taste. It’s best to chill your coffee in the morning so that it’s ready for an afternoon glass. Trust me on this one. If you HAVE to have it now and didn’t chill it, make sure you’re espresso is bit stronger so that your taste and richness isn’t compromised by the addition of ice. K? Good.

And, another really ridiculously great way of having it is to use sweetened condensed milk. Skip sweetening your brew with sugar or using creme and add condensed milk instead.  Because sweetened condensed milk is so thick, it’s best to add it while the coffee is still hot so that it dissolves and blends well. You’ll be slaving over your blending your goods if you wait to add it once the coffee’s cold.

There you go. The best and easiest drink you can make at home and enjoy every day. Literally. Save yourself those bucks at your otherwise fave coffee joint and make it yourself. It’s a simple pleasure. 😉

Hello, Spring. 

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  • 1 cup brewed espresso
  • 3 tbsp. raw sugar
  • 1/4 cup whole milk or cream (I use a a mix of equal parts whole milk and half and half)
  • 1 tsp. good quality vanilla extract
  • ice


Sweeten brewed espresso and chill for 3 hours or fast freeze for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from fridge and transfer to martini shaker. Add cream and vanilla extract to coffee. Shake well. Pour over ice-filled glass.

*Chef’s notes: add an extra tablespoon of sugar if you like your coffee really sweet. Keep in mind milk is sweet and will naturally sweeten it. Of course, flavored syrup or flavored creamer is an option, too. If you go that route, you don’t have to sweeten the coffee. It all really depends on your sweet preference.

40 thoughts on “Iced Espresso. How To Make a Good, Good, Daily Coffee Drink

  1. Rosa: So, so perfect for these balmy days… the condensation on the glass alone is inviting 😉

    Grandma: Yes! Make them some. They’ll be sure to love it.

    Iris: Verdad, niña! Que rico mija. Hay pocas cosas tan deliciosas y fácil a la misma vez.

    Jill: It’s just right, I’m telling you. I’ve made it so many ways that I finally got it to taste perfectly… it’s been about 5 years now so I’m sure why it took me so long to share with you all 🙂

    Ben: Yup! Make and enjoy. A blender wouldn’t make it easier, just more cumbersome! 🙂 Really. It’s so easy to just put in a martini shaker. 🙂

    Bellini: You got that right.

  2. Nice looking iced coffee! You know how much I love java. I need to get used to the idea of having it other than hot! I like the touch of vanilla. Softens it a bit?


  4. Once I master how to do this a few of the local coffee spots won’t be seeing me for a long time! I’ll have to get my hands on some Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee to see how it comes out. 😉

  5. I started drinking coffee only a few months ago out of necessity. Getting up constantly to feed my son was causing me to be a ghost in the mornings. Funny thing is I hated anything coffee flavored and now I’m learning to love it! Ive never had an iced coffee but will def try this.

  6. Michele R: I knew you’d like this… so easy. And you should def try to break away from all the hot stuff. The iced out stuff is good, girl!

    Betty: Si mami, tratalo! Es riqusimo. Te alevia todo el calor que pasas durante el dia!

    Rohan: I haven’t had a solid Jamaican coffee in a long time. And, definitely not an expresso, I don’t think. Maybe Marley Coffee would have one?

    Jehan: Wow! I love to hear about newbies! So much to learn about it. LMK if you have any questions. I’m here to help you transition into enjoying one of life’s best drinks!

    Aly: Yes I remember that! I can’t believe you’re still not enjoying it at home for yourself! Pls try this and let me know how it worked out for you.

  7. I really like this post I must say. Nice reading, great pictures and I think this recipe is very good. I am not usually a fan of iced coffees, I like regular espresso based drinks, but I think this one can be a good choice for summer time. Great work.

  8. Came back to let you know I made this just the way you suggested and with the Cuban coffee you put me on to and I have to say it’s a score! Love it. I did add a bit more sugar but that’s because I like my coffee really, really, really sweet. Kind of like that ice cream the lawyer said! Thanks for this.

  9. I’m a daily coffee drinker and with summer coming up, you bet I’ll be drinking something like this. I like to use condensed milk and very strong coffee (Vietnamese style). So tasty!

  10. It’s not even warm today, and I’d love to take a dip in that glass. It’s so inviting! Very good tips about making iced coffee or espresso. Going to be making it in full swing very soon!

  11. I’ve recently become addicted to ice coffee and really wanted to learn to make it myself. Super excited for this recipe! And yum, condensed milk. Reminds me of my childhood drink – Malta con leche condensada.

  12. Danijela: I confirm it’s absolutely perfect for hot weather. Sometimes I just need a break from the hot stuff.

    PearMama: I’m with you on the addiction.

    Michele: oh good! See, it’s great even for us addicts.

    Ericka: Condensed milk is entirely too good. Just sooo fattening, no! 🙂

    Señorita Vino: Sure is!

    Comiendo en LA: Thanks!

    Elle: When you do, you let me know! I’m sure you’ll put a nice spin to it!

    Sujeiry: Recently! Well, welcome to the club. There’s no looking back now.

  13. I love your post! Great story 🙂 In my home growing up coffee was a BIG no-no as was any type of alcohol…. I still don’t care for alcohol, but I’m a guilty rebel when it comes to coffee. I gotta have it 🙂 I have never been much for iced cafe…of any kind. I prefer a hot latte in the hottest of summers. However your FB post made me want to try it, so I brewed some espresso in my office’s fancy espresso machine…but I added two little french vanilla creamers to the cup prior to brewing it..then added ice after. Not bad! I didn’t aadd any additional sugar because those lil creamers are just sweet enough. Thanks for the inspiration

  14. Hey B, thanks for sharing the recipe of your delight. I was wondering what type of container do you find best to chill the coffee in the fridge/ freezer for?

  15. Chefb…I need help! I am jonesing for good, good iced coffee, but can’t figure out the recipe as printed. It would take a lot of shots to make 1 cup espresso, or am I misunderstanding? Can I make 4 shots of espresso, add enough water to make 1 cup (since regular coffee is made stronger for iced coffee, and is mostly water anyway), then add sweetener and milk/half n half? Thanks for you help Chefb!

  16. Liz: So, I’m sooooo late, (like 2 years) to seeing your comment. How does that happen??! I know what you mean about growing up in a house where caffeine was no-no! My grandmother had me growing up drinking Sanka! LOL. Is that NOT the SDA coffee??! And no alcohol, either. I’m so glad you saw this post and were inspired. As you noted and I updated the recipe (before seeing your comment), that you don’t need to sweet the coffee if you’re going to use a flavored creamer. Those things are sweet as they are! Hope you’re still making it!

    Den: Hi! I suspect you’ve made this since you posted a comment. I find that storing it in a plastic or even steel container is best. I prefer glass, truthfully, but it should be tempered. Chill in fridge if you’re not in hurry. Freezer if you are!

    Kizzy K: Yes, it would take a about 6 or so shots to make 1 cup of espresso. Espresso as you know, is much stronger than drip coffee which is what coffee houses use for iced coffee. And so yes, you can use 4 shots of espresso and top the rest with water to thin it down and not have it so strong. Sweeten that while hot, and then yes, add your cream. Hope this helps! Thanks for chiming in!

    Mandy Pandy: Yes!

  17. Just found your blog when looking for a recipe to make iced coffee from espresso. I made myself a drink right away after reading this post {after the chilling time in the freezer, of course!} & loved it! Thanks for sharing!!

  18. Love this! I keep searching for the perfect way to make iced coffee at home. What kind of coffee do you typicallybrew for your espresso? I’m still searching for that perfect espresso at home.

  19. I started with a wide variety of resources, including the Forgotten Realms wiki; my book, Drow or Porphyra; an older but wonderful article in Dragon magazine

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