With This Iced Coffee Recipe, Skip the Single-Use Cups

By Ashley Ess in Thinking Sustainably

According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, 62 percent of Americans drink coffee daily. That's not a surprising figure, considering the number of cafés strewn about the nation. Add the need for convenience as you rush during a busy morning commute, and before you know it, you're standing in a long line of others just like you, eager for a morning pick-me-up.

Why Making Coffee at Home Is Better for the Planet

But what about the environmental impact of relying on the local café during the warmer months for your iced coffee fix? Instead, consider making an iced coffee recipe at home, which will bypass the need for plastic cups, lids, and straws that are standard in most cafés.

Plastic Oceans International states that 550 million plastic straws are thrown away in the United States and the United Kingdom every day. When you make your iced coffee at home, you can use an insulated bottle, a glass, or a mason jar with a stainless steel straw. By incorporating this small change into your daily routine, you can help reduce the amount of plastic straws and cups that end up in landfills and the ocean.

Iced coffee served in mason jar

Easy Iced Coffee Recipe

It's surprisingly easy to make your own iced coffee. Creating your concoction in your own kitchen also gives you greater control, as you can choose sustainably produced coffee beans, and it yields a nice break for your wallet. Below is a simple iced coffee recipe, with some variations.

Combine 4 oz. of medium roast coffee grounds and 8 cups of cold water in an airtight glass container. Cover the container and store it at room temperature overnight. In the morning, pour the liquid into a new glass container, straining the coffee grounds through a cheesecloth-lined mesh sieve. If you don't have either of those, you can always use a coffee filter to strain the grounds. After discarding the grounds, your coffee is ready to be made into a delicious cup of cold joe! Either place the new glass in the refrigerator until you're ready to drink it or add ice cubes and milk or milk substitute directly to your glass.

When adding sweetener, keep in mind that granulated cane sugar won't dissolve the way it does in hot coffee. To avoid a sugar-at-the-bottom scenario, make a simple syrup or add liquid or powdered sweeteners. To make a quick simple syrup, combine ½ cup of granulated sugar with ½ cup of water and place over medium heat, never boiling. The syrup is ready when the sugar is dissolved. Keep the syrup chilled in the refrigerator, and add the desired amount to your iced coffee.

jarful of coffee beans

Jazz It Up

Give a little flair to your at-home iced coffee by freezing cubes of coffee and adding them to your cold brew. Just combine your favorite coffee concoction—sweetener, milk, and all—then pour it over ice cube trays and freeze. Plop a few into your next glass of iced coffee and enjoy!

For a fun twist, try creating a blended iced coffee by blending 2 cups of brewed coffee, ¼ to ½ cup milk or milk alternative, 1 tbsp. vanilla, and the sweetener of your choice to taste. Blend for half a minute, add about a cup of ice cubes, then blend again. Add more ice if desired. For a mocha flavor, simply add 2 or more tbsp. of cocoa powder before adding ice.

Show us your favorite homemade iced coffee by tagging @toms_of_maine on Instagram!

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Why It's Good

Next time you're craving a delicious iced coffee, consider making it at home rather than stopping by the local café. Using sustainably sourced coffee beans and reusable cups and straws are simple options you can adopt every day that promote a healthier planet.