July means it’s officially iced coffee season. “Iced coffee on a hot day has been a way of life for as long as I can remember,” says coffee blogger Ketaki Doshi, aka One Shot Latte, who grew up in Mumbai, India, and currently enjoys her cold brew variations in Qatar. “In comparison to hot, cold coffee is versatile and intensifies flavors like vanilla or caramel much better. And I love enhancing my cold brew with unconventional flavors like mocha or hazelnut — it makes for a perfect caffeinated summer drink.”
If you, too, love your summertime iced coffee, here’s a way to take it up a notch: frozen coffee. Yep, blended, shaken or straight-up solid, frozen coffee can make your daily caffeine intake that much more festive. And it may take a step or two more in terms of prep, but you can easily make beautiful frozen coffee concoctions at home.
Check out some coffee experts’ favorite frozen coffee recipes, plus the tools you’ll need to start making them at home.
Classic Espresso Granita by Illy’s Giorgio Milos
Take, for example, the granita, a traditional frozen coffee born in southern Italy, made from espresso, sugar and water, then frozen to a desired consistency. “Granitas are just such a refreshing summer treat, something even colder than cold brew and icier than iced coffee,” explains master barista Giorgio Milos of Illycaffè in Trieste, Italy. “There’s so many different things you can experiment and play with when freezing coffee, making it a fun experience every single time, which is what summer is all about.”
- 10 fluid ounces of espresso
- 1.5 ounces of sugar
Directions: Mix 10 fresh shots of espresso (10 fluid ounces/300 milliliters), cooled for at least five minutes, and 45 grams (1.5 ounces) sugar together in a quart-sized freezable bowl, making sure the sugar dissolves completely. Note: The amount of sugar can be adjusted, but the higher the sugar amount, the lower the freezing temperature will be, so the longer the freezing time.
Place the bowl in the freezer. Every 20 minutes, stir the mixture thoroughly with a silicone spatula or other mixing utensil, and place back in the freezer. Break down ice as much as possible for a smoother texture. Let the mixture freeze completely, between two and three hours, depending on desired consistency. Remove from the freezer and serve in a martini glass or your vessel of choice, alone or with a dollop of whipped cream.
You can store leftover granita in the freezer; take it out and leave at room temperature for 45 minutes and then stir right before serving.
Coffee ice cubes and pops
One of the challenges of iced beverages in the heat is the ever-melting ice, watering down your cold coffee. Milos’ solution is effective, and fun to execute: Make ice cubes out of coffee, so your beverages stay the same strength from start to finish.
Using a pour-over filter, brew double-strength coffee directly over a carafe of ice. Let iced coffee sit until cool or room temperature. Pour into an ice tray and place in the freezer. Use cubes individually as desired, in an already prepared cold brew, or add to milk for an iced latte effect.
Glacio Ice Cube Trays Silicone Combo Mold ($16.99, originally $19.99; amazon.com)
These flexible trays allow you to make either squares or spheres of ice for your frozen concoctions.
And for a more portable take on frozen coffee, who says ice pops are just child’s play? For a higher octane take on a summer treat, pour cold brew (its “smooth flavor, slight sweetness, and notes of caramel yield the best taste,” Milos advises) into a reusable ice pop mold, and place in the freezer to set. If you like a creamier or sweeter pop, you can experiment with adding sugar or milk into the pop molds before freezing.
Helistar Popsicle Molds ($22.99; amazon.com)
These silicone molds are cute, and so easy to finagle the pops out of, you may soon be making frozen treats on the regular.
Spanish Latte by One Shot Latte
Doshi likes a sweeter take on cold coffee, too — she favors a bit of sweetened condensed milk as one way to kick it up. Her DIY Spanish Latte is a “perfect balance between the bitter and the sweet,” she says. “I’ve grown to love and crave this cold latte to beat the scorch of summer.” Feel free to adjust the sweetness of the coffee, and choice of milk, to your tastes.
- 2 shots of espresso
- 2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
- 3/4 cup of cold milk
- Ice cubes
Directions: In a tall glass, add the condensed milk first. Follow with your choice of milk and ice cubes. Pour the hot espresso shots over ice. Garnish with a straw and stir to enjoy!
Sea Salt Shakerato by Nguyen Coffee Supply
Brooklyn, New York-based Vietnamese coffee purveyors Nguyen Coffee Supply also utilize sweetened condensed milk, a traditional addition to Vietnamese coffee, in their take on icy-cold brews. If you can’t decide between salty or sweet, Nguyen Coffee recommends this iteration of salted caramel coffee, inspired by classic cocktails and as robust as a freshly shaken martini.
- 2 ounces strong Vietnamese coffee
- 1.5 tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk
- 1 tablespoon milk
- Up to 1/8 teaspoon coarse sea salt
Directions: Combine condensed milk, brewed coffee, and regular milk in a cocktail shaker. Add sea salt. Add ice to the shaker. Place the lid on the shaker. Shake like you mean it. Add ice to a serving glass of your choice. Strain contents of shaker into glass. Garnish with a pinch of flaky sea salt. Serve immediately. Enjoy!
Ice Cream Coffee by One Shot Latte
And when you’re ready for your frozen coffee as a full-blown dessert, Doshi has a blended dairy treat for you. “As a teen, I was introduced to cold coffee made of instant coffee powder instead of espresso,” she says, a powder she now employs for this sweaty summer afternoon or evening indulgence, and also key to the spring’s trending dalgona whipped coffee. “I like to think of it as a mix between a cold coffee and a milkshake,” she says.
- 3/4 cup cold milk
- 2 tablespoons strong instant coffee
- 2 big scoops of vanilla ice cream
- Whipped cream
- 1 tablespoon chocolate sauce
- Shaved chocolate (optional)
Directions: In a blender, add milk followed by instant coffee powder and vanilla ice cream. Blend until mixture reaches milkshake consistency. Using a long spoon, loosely drizzle chocolate sauce inside a tall glass. Pour the blended frozen coffee in the glass and finish it with whipped cream. Amp it up with some chocolate shavings on top.
Nespresso by De’Longhi Expert Original Espresso Machine ($309, originally $329; amazon.com)
Doshi’s espresso maker of choice. “This machine makes a ristretto, espresso, lungo (double shot) and also an Americano, and has proved a worthy investment during home isolation in the past few months,” she says.
Braun BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker ($85.37; thehomedepot.com)
If all this coffee talk is making you realize it’s time to upgrade your drip machine, may we recommend the winner of our best drip coffee maker test: the Braun BrewSense. It has a programmable 24-hour timer, brew pause system and charcoal purifying filter to ensure the smoothest and most delicious cup of coffee.
FineDine Premium Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls, Set of 6 ($29.99; amazon.com)
This nice-looking set is great for baking and other kitchen tasks, in addition to granita-making.
Di Oro Seamless Series Pro-Grade Large Silicone Spatula ($12.97; amazon.com)
Sturdy enough to stir Milos’ icy mixtures, and the silicone feels good in your hand.
LHS Stainless Steel Pour Over Coffee Dripper ($12.99, originally $15.99; amazon.com)
Also useful for those just-one-cup-but-it-must-be-perfect days.
Barfly Heavy Duty Spring Bar Strainer, Stainless Steel ($13; amazon.com)
If you don’t already own a cocktail strainer that can also be used for coffee, this one’s a good stainless steel starter at a nice price.
BarChemistry Luxury Matte Boston Shaker and Strainer Set ($34.99; amazon.com)
A pink Boston shaker with strainer is basically #summergoals, and this one has a small legion of customer fans already.
Ninja Fit Single Serve Blender ($49.99; target.com)
You’ll soon be enjoying frozen cocktails as well as your blended coffee drinks with this fairly affordable, single-serve taskmaster. And if you’re looking for a serious blender upgrade, check out our review of the best blenders of 2020.
Dailyware Martini Glasses, Set of 4 ($9.99; bedbathandbeyond.com)
Why shouldn’t iced coffee be served like a cocktail?
Retroware 13 oz. Drinking Glass By Home Essentials and Beyond ($23.99, originally $32.99; wayfair.com)
The glass you serve your frozen coffee in makes it all the more festive — and these retro beauties have us hankering for an ice cold drink right about now.
Davidoff Café Espresso 57 Instant Coffee, Pack of 2 ($17.94; amazon.com)
This is the instant espresso Doshi uses — and loves — at home.
Illy Ready To Drink Coffee, Classico Cold Brew, Pack Of 12 ($35.19; amazon.com)
You can substitute in this packaged elixir in any of Milos’ espresso-based recipes, or drink it on its own over, yes, your newly made coffee cubes.
Atlas Coffee Club Subscription (starting at $9 a month, atlascoffeeclub.com)
If you’re into trying new coffee on the regular, Atlas Coffee Club ships beans or grounds of coffee sourced from all over the world right to your door. You can read our full review of the service here.
Nguyen Coffee Supply Vietnamese Fair Trade Brooklyn Roasted Whole Beans, Courage ($22; amazon.com)
Nguyen roasts all its fair trade coffee weekly in Brooklyn. To help find the right grinder for you to grind these beans, check out our best grinders of 2020 test.
Note: The prices above reflect the retailer’s listed price at the time of publication.