Vanilla Iced Coffee

26 Aug
Vanilla Iced Coffee

It’s the end of August, and it’s frickin hot out. Although, I’m not sure if I can be one to complain considering the majority of the contiguous United States has had temperatures in the high nineties and above, with humidity to match, for the entire summer. At least we have regular rainfall and trade winds to keep the heat down a bit.

Either way, I’m sure we can at least all agree that a cool and refreshing beverage is in order. Iced coffee anyone? Got five bucks for an iced latte at Starbucks?

Your alternatives are, of course, the super sugary bottled products found in grocers and convenience stores that barely taste like coffee. You know, the kind that are literally 300 or more calories a serving and has who knows what kind of ingredients in it.

Well, being the frugal (cheap) and health conscious (chubby) person that I am, I decided it would be a good time to make my own with the coffee and other ingredients that I already own (and paid for). I can cut back the calories easily by only using just enough sugar to add some sweetness and by using whole milk instead of half and half.

So prepare yourself for the best vanilla iced coffee you’ve ever had in your life!

For this recipe, you’ll need a large French press (mine makes about two cups at a time), a means of boiling water, and a sauce pan for making the sweetened vanilla infused milk. Feel free to substitute half and half for the whole milk, if that is your desire, bearing in mind that this will greatly increase the calories. I do discourage using anything less than whole milk, however, as you will miss out on the creaminess, and the iced coffee will have a watery mouthfeel.

Using a French press will make a stronger and better infused coffee, which tastes better than drip coffee and is perfect for making iced coffee. Some say that French pressed coffee is more bitter. To that, I say all coffee is bitter. If it’s not, you’re doing it wrong. That’s why many add sugar and milk.

Vanilla Iced Coffee

Makes five 16 ounce glasses or 2 and 1/2 quarts


  • 8 cups of water
  • 8 tablespoons of your favorite unflavored ground coffee
  • 2 cups of whole milk
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean

Stuff you’ll need 


  1. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise, exposing the itty bitty seeds on the inside.

    Vanilla bean

    Slice vanilla lengthwise

  2. Place the milk, vanilla bean, and sugar in a sauce pan and heat on medium-high heat for about ten minutes or until it reaches a simmer, and then set aside. Make sure to stir it occasionally.

    Vanilla milk

    We call this scalding

  3. While the vanilla infused milk is on the stove, begin making the French pressed coffee. Most presses make no more than four cups at a time, so you will need to do this in two separate batches. Heat the first four cups of water to a boil. Place four tablespoons of ground coffee inside the French press and add the boiling water. Place the lid on and push the screen just to the surface off the brew, ensuring the floating grounds are fully immersed. Allow five minutes for brewing time and then slowly press the screen to the bottom to stop the brewing process. Pour this into a large glass pitcher.

    french press

    Brew that French pressed coffee!

  4. Now do it again. Rinse out the French press (with hot water so that the press doesn’t shatter under temperature shock), add the last four tablespoons of ground coffee, and pour the last four cups of boiling water over it. Brew for another five minutes and press it to stop the brewing process. Add that to the glass pitcher as well.

    Brew it again

    Look, I flipped it so you would know that I did it a second time!

  5. Remove the vanilla beans from the milk. Scrape the seeds from the beans and add it back into the milk for some extra vanilla goodness. Discard the vanilla bean.
  6. Pour the vanilla milk into the pitcher of hot coffee.

    Pouring in the milk

    Pouring in the milk

  7. Refrigerate it! Oh, you thought we were gonna pour this over some ice, didn’t you. And water down my delicious iced coffee?! NEVER!

    Almost done

    This is hot iced coffee. Also knows as coffee.

  8. Once the iced coffee is cold, you can now pour it over a glass of ice. Enjoy!

Finished and delicious

Many recipes out there tell you to double brew coffee and then pour it over ice, believing that the ice will melt enough to give you good tasting iced coffee. This almost never works in my experience, and I always end up with a lukewarm glass of too acidic coffee, which I have to add more ice to, which then gets watered down anyways. Make this in the morning, and with a little patience you’ll have the best tasting iced coffee you can make at home by the afternoon.

Oh, and this delicious iced coffee comes out to about 138 calories per 16 ounce serving with under 4 grams of fat. Compare that to a 9.5 ounce bottled Starbuck’s Vanilla Frappuccino  at 200 calories.

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Posted by on August 26, 2012 in Beverage, Food, Health


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