Suddenly feel the urge to have some delicious homemade iced coffee, but you don’t have a cold batch already prepared, sitting in your fridge?
Making a fresh ice coffee but no patience to wait for it to cool down? Here are some great tips to quickly cool down your hot coffee (or tea) without diluting the taste.
Thinking about how to solve this for myself, I tested most of the cooling options below. My criteria for coming up with those was that it needed to be fast, simple and without (or as little as possible) diluting my drink.
I’ll list the amazing hacks here and then go into detail more further down.
Here’s what worked for me:
- Using ice cubes smartly
- Use a HyperChiller
- Whiskey stones
- Increasing surface area
- Crushed ice
Using ice cubes
This is probably your go-to solution when looking to cool down a drink in any situation quickly.
The advantage is that most of us will have some ice cube trays in our freezer. With this, you’re ready to go without a complicated setup or the need to buy additional stuff.
The problem is that the water in the ice will dilute your drink. With coffee, that’s very undesirable, and it will impact the taste of your cold brew.
So, we’re gonna have to get smart about it. – Here’s what I did:
- Brew your coffee like you normally would
- Use ice to cool down your drink as outlined below
- Anticipate dilution by creating a stronger brew
I found that the ideal ratio of ice versus hot coffee is 2 parts of ice and 3 parts of coffee, measured by weight.
Example: One ice cube weighs about 15 grams, so if you want to cool down, say 250ml of coffee, you will use about 10-11 ice cubes – ((250ml/3)*2)=166grams of ice / 15 grams = 11 ice cubes. (1 ml = 1 gram)
I found that this ratio was the ideal trade-off between dilution and speed of cooling but let’s take it one step further. Timewise this will take just a matter of minutes, and you can enjoy a quick ice coffee.
Dilution is good!
To avoid diluting your hot coffee as much as possible while using this method, you can embrace dilution instead of trying to avoid it.
We’re going to brew our coffee stronger than you’d normally drink it.
Using the ratios mentioned above, brew your coffee about 60-70% stronger than you’d normally drink it. Using the ice to cool it will dilute your coffee to the point that you’d normally brew it.
For example, if you normally use 3 tablespoons of coffee, use 5 instead to offset the dilution. (3 * 1.6)
For the pros
This pro-tip isn’t useful for ad hoc cooling as it needs preparation, but if you’re unlike me and don’t need your iced coffee pronto, then this might be a good idea.
I found it to help with dilution, but it needs some experimenting to get the ratio just right for your taste.
Use part of your brew to freeze coffee ice cubes, and use those next time to cool your drink down. In my experience, it impacts the taste a little, but it’s very slight, and you might not even notice. Worth a try!
Tip: Drinking your coffee ice cubes in a regular glass of milk on a hot day is delicious!
Using a HyperChiller
Working out ratios of ice versus coffee and preventing dilution is too much of a hassle for you?
I tried the HyperChiller from Amazon, and it is hands down the easiest, fastest, and most effective method to cool down your coffee without any negative impact on the taste and aroma.
Once in a while, you come across this product where at face value you’re like: “this can never work” but then still give it a try. – This is one of those products.
Just get this cooler cup and toss it in your freezer. Then, when you feel like getting an iced coffee, just brew as normal, get your HyperChiller from the fridge, and pour in your scorching hot coffee.
Wiggle it around a bit, and it will cool your coffee to about 70ºF / 20ºC in 60 seconds. If you let your coffee sit for a bit before putting it in, the final temperature will be even lower.
This product works why cooling your coffee by trapping it in between a cold surface created by ice that does not come in contact with your drink.
If you need additional chill, use ice cubes, but since the coffee is already at around room temperature, you’d need much less ice, meaning less dilution as well.
Tip: The HyperChiller can be used for any drink (tea and even alcoholic beverages)
I had never heard of Whiskey Stones until a friend showed me, and I was amazed.
It turns out that whiskey drinkers cope (among others) with the same problems we –impromptu– ice coffee drinkers encounter, which is; how to cool a drink fast without diluting the taste?
Enter; whiskey stones – basically, they cool any drink the same way as ice cubes would, but then without melting.
While pretty niche some time ago, over the last decade, this way of cooling a drink has become quite popular under Whiskey drinkers, and the cooling stones come in many shapes and sizes.
Just because they’re mainly used to cool whiskey (and perhaps other liquors) doesn’t mean that they cannot be used to cool down our beloved coffee…
Have a look at this Amazon page to get an overview of what’s available and if you want to give it a shot in cooling your coffee down.
Cooling coffee by increasing the surface area
Everyone knows that when you put a hot liquid in a wide cup or bowl, it cools down faster than stored in a narrow container.
This is because, with a larger surface area, the liquid can transfer heat to the surrounding air quicker, thus increasing the cooling rate and letting you enjoy your cold coffee quicker.
I would say that this is the most “low tech” but also slowest solution on this list, but since it works on the list, it goes.
Pouring your coffee in a wide and shallow bowl, dish, or “saucer” to cool it is how the term “saucering tea/coffee” was born.
By pouring the coffee from cup to saucer and back over and over again, the temperature of the coffee can decrease by as much as 1-2ºC or (about) 1ºF each time.
Make sure to use a dish that can withstand high temperatures, like a Pyrex baking dish for safety.
Tip: I ran my own test with this but also introduced a tea diffuser into the mix, which further increases the surface area by creating tiny droplets of coffee while it drips into the saucer. Filter bags will also work but will be much slower, though.
Needless to say that this will only bring the temperature of your coffee down to room temperature at best so, if you fancy a colder drink, then ice cubes are needed. However, since less ice is needed, the rest of diluting your coffee is also reduced.
It’s not the fastest way, but it works!
Using crushed ice
Ice is the default solution to cool things down in any shape or form, so it’s not a surprise that most solutions on this list contain a form of ice.
Our final tip uses ice in its purest form but… with a twist.
- Get yourself a thin metal cup. A cocktail shaker or thin aluminum cup works best because it has the best heat transfer properties.
- Place this cup in a larger container.
- Fill the space around the cup with crushed ice; the finer the ice is, the better this works.
- Mix the crushed ice with fine salt and stir through the ice.
- Pour your hot coffee into the metal cup and watch it cool down fast.
Tip: Ice crushers can be found relatively cheap on Amazon. A great gadget to have for cooling drinks or make a tropical slush puppy.
The magic here is that we added salt to the ice. Well, not really magic, more physics at work, to be honest. Because of the salt, the ice needs more energy (heat) to melt, which means that more heat can be transferred from your coffee to the ice before it melts.
This method might not be the most practical, but it’s definitely the coolest if you ask the physics nerd in me 🙂