Do you have a daily iced coffee habit, but your wallet can't keep up with it? It’s time to learn how to BYOB: Be Your Own Barista! While becoming one requires more training and knowledge than can be covered in a single article, everyone must start somewhere. Turn to these five simple tips for beginner-friendly guidance.
Learn about what makes a quality cup of coffee, how to understand your preferences better, and the essential tools for everyday brewing. Plus, get ideas for café-worthy iced drinks you can make at home – no fancy equipment needed!
How to Make Café-Quality Iced Coffee at Home
Once you learn how to make iced coffee, you might never go back to the store-bought stuff. Save those for “treat yourself” days and enjoy your savings.
Tip #1: Source good-quality coffee ingredients.
A terrific cup of joe starts with good-quality coffee beans. Thankfully, you'll have lots of options if you go local. According to the Philippine Coffee Board, the Philippines is one of the few countries producing all four varieties of commercially viable coffee: arabica, liberica (barako), excelsa, and robusta. So, take your pick!
Coffee beans are best when brewed shortly after roasting (always check the label for the roast date!). Many experts claim that a great cuppa should taste pleasantly bitter and smooth rather than sharp. The rest of the experience depends on your taste. Some enjoy floral or fruity notes in their coffee, while others prefer a mild and nutty profile.
Most supermarkets will have coffee beans from different suppliers, so they're a great resource when starting your coffee journey. You can also find small businesses and neighborhood cafés that offer bags of their roasts. Try different varieties to find your favorite!
Tip#2: Keep it simple and find what you like.
As with all new skills, it's essential to nail the basics first. Figure out what qualifies as the perfect cup for you. Essentially, it should be what works for you in your daily routine. You don’t have to subscribe to any strict rules.
When you go to your favorite café, what iced coffee flavors appeal to you? Maybe you're a sweet tooth and love syrups, so you go for a caramel drizzle now and then. Are you a purist who takes your coffee black with no sugar added? How strong should your cup be?
These are just a few questions you can ask yourself in the exploratory phase. Later, you can decide on specific techniques and brewing methods to achieve your goals. At the very least, try making a glass with instant coffee and ice just to see how you like it. Maybe that’s all you need, so you can skip all the fuss!
Tip#3: Be inspired by your favorite coffeeshops.
Want to experiment but unsure which direction to go in? Take inspiration from the pros. If you're a coffee lover, you must have a go-to drink and shop – or several! Try recreating your favorite iced coffee recipes at home. Most cafés will list the general ingredients that go into their items, so you can start there.
For example, the Japanese chain UCC Coffee popularized the Kori Kohi. It’s a three-ingredient drink of cold brew ice cubes, warm milk, and sugar syrup. The only "equipment" you need for it is an ice tray!
If you love Starbucks Frappuccinos and other creamy creations, try coffee milkshakes. Start with a base of Selecta Super Thick Vanilla Ice Cream, blended with whole milk and coffee. Enjoy with whipped cream on top! For a stronger coffee taste, you can opt for an affogato instead. This Italian treat calls for a scoop of vanilla ice cream with a hot espresso shot poured on top. Prego!
Tip #4: Invest in tools, equipment, and glassware.
Pricey espresso machines and drip coffee makers aren't your only options for equipment! You can get high-quality French presses and pour-over sets at budget prices, too. These beginner-friendly devices are more hands-on and take up less space.
A coffee grinder is another must-have – freshly ground beans have the best flavor. Add a gooseneck kettle to your list for better control over your water, which is essential for the pour-over. A kitchen scale is handy for accurate measurements and consistent brews. If you love frothy lattés, an electric whisk might also be a worthy investment.
Now, it’s time for the most exciting part: the finishing touches. Toppings like syrups, chocolate shavings, and cocoa powder can upgrade your iced coffee aesthetic. Find stylish glassware, ceramics, and reusable to-go cups to elevate your drinking experience. Double-walled glasses and acrylic tumblers are classic, versatile options for iced drinks.
Tip #5: Make a big batch and save for later.
Do you want an endless supply of chilled coffee at home? Go for cold brew! As the name suggests, you can make this by brewing coffee in cold or room-temperature water instead of hot. Typically, you want to steep the grounds for at least 12 hours to get the best-tasting results.
Some local coffee shops and retailers sell cold brew concentrate, which offers great value for money. Add ice and your choice of liquid, and it's ready to drink! If you're going for homemade, you can use a glass carafe to brew, then strain the grounds with a sieve or cheesecloth. Cold brew can last 1-2 weeks in the fridge, so make a few servings ahead. Now you can enjoy great coffee daily – even on your busiest mornings!
With these simple tips in your back pocket, you'll be whipping up iced coffee so good your favorite barista will be proud. And if you ever feel overwhelmed, just remember: the best coffee is the one you like best. Have it black, milky, with a scoop of ice cream, or loaded with syrup – there's no single way to make a terrific cup. Experiment, enjoy, and stay inspired!