If I'm making iced coffee, should the ratios of the ingredients (coffee, water, sweetener, milk) differ in any way?

If so, how?

1 Answer 1


Recipes vary according to taste, but if you want a similar concentration ("strength") of coffee, you'll probably want to use a stronger brew of coffee (basically amounts to using more grounds). This is because you're diluting the coffee when you add the ice (which melts), even more so if you're trying to start with freshly brewed and very hot coffee (melting more ice). Here's a suggestion from Chow and a discussion from Serious Eats that discuss the methods.

Personally, though, I prefer the result of cold-brewed coffee. Rather than brewed-hot and served-cold, it's both brewed and served cold. I think the cold-brew extraction is a better complement to the cold service. Furthermore, less ice might be needed to cool the beverage to a similar temperature, which is an added bonus. See the myriad questions with for more on that subject.

As for milk/cream and/or sugar/sweetener, this seems to be entirely personal preference. I take mine black, so I'll let others comment on that.

  • Just as important as the dilution, we don't perceive flavors as strongly in cold things. Ice cream is a really good demonstration of this: when frozen it tastes fine, but once melted it tastes overly sweet and possibly overflavored too.
    – Cascabel
    Feb 13, 2015 at 7:26
  • @Jefromi - Good point about very cold temperature and taste. I suspect something different is happening at moderate temperature: certain flavours are amplified (bitterness?); this cooking.se question on off-tastes in room-temp coffee, but if and/or why still evade me; I'm not satisfied by lukewarm bitterness and this blog on hot-bew forming bitter chemicals.
    – hoc_age
    Feb 13, 2015 at 13:08
  • Iced coffee at 32F/0C (i.e. the ice didn't all melt) is definitely cold enough to make you perceive the sweetness less. (Maybe refrigerated soda vs room temperature is a closer parallel than ice cream.) Not sure about it being more bitter - I certainly haven't noticed that - but if it's true it'd skew the ratios even more as you add more sugar to cover it up!
    – Cascabel
    Feb 13, 2015 at 18:00
  • @Jefromi - I'm with you on the coldness; in my previous comment, I meant that I suspect additional behavior from hot-brew getting off-tastes, by virtue of the hot-brew process, as it cools (to any temperature). One might even be tempted to add salt (as suggested here and here) to mask the bitterness! We'll be eating coffee-milk-flavoured, salted-caramel popsicles before long... and I arrive full circle with hot, black coffee. :) But the former does sound a little appealing...
    – hoc_age
    Feb 13, 2015 at 18:34

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