Sweet, rich, and delicious, caramel iced coffee is one of the most highly-ordered drinks of the summer. The downside to having a caramel iced coffee addiction is that it can get expensive buying from coffee shops very quickly.
That is why we are sharing our favorite caramel iced coffee recipe that will allow you to satisfy your cravings without damaging your wallet.
The best part? You don’t even have to go to a coffee shop to get it. With the right information and the easy method we will share today, you can enjoy the perfect customized cup of caramel iced coffee from the comfort of your home.
There are not many things that are better on a hot day than a cold, refreshing cup of iced coffee but don’t take our word for it, give it a try!
A Guide to Caramel Iced Coffee
The perfect caramel iced coffee consists of two parts: the coffee and the caramel.
The coffee is the more complicated of the two to get right; there are a lot of factors that go into determining the taste of a good cup of coffee, all of which you’ll want to think about when putting together your drink.
Iced Coffee Versus Cold Brew
There seems to be a lot of confusion surrounding what qualifies as which kind of chilled coffee drink. So what’s the difference between iced coffee and cold brew? It’s in the way they’re made.
Iced coffee is exactly what the name implies. It’s coffee that’s brewed exactly like your standard hot cup then cooled down relatively quickly. It can be as simple as pouring hot coffee over ice or chilling in the refrigerator overnight. Iced coffee is quick and easy to make at home.
Cold-brew, on the other hand, is coffee made with cold water from the beginning. Cold water is poured over coarse ground coffee. It’s then left to steep for between 12 and 14 hours, after which the grounds are strained out, and the coffee is ready to drink.
While iced coffee is quicker and easier, cold brew produces a smoother final product without as much bitterness, which can develop when brewing with hot water.
However, it can be difficult to incorporate other flavors into a cold brew coffee because it’s never heated. Flavorings are much harder to dissolve and distribute evenly through a cold liquid.
So, if you want to add that caramel flavor to your coffee, you’ll want to make iced coffee rather than cold brew.
Are you looking for a machine that will brew you a smooth but easy cup of coffee? If so, check out our recommendations for best Grind and Brew Coffee Makers.
There are so many ways to brew coffee that listing them all is a completely different article. For the sake of simplicity, here are the easiest methods for making iced coffee at home:
- Use a coffee maker, either by the pot or single-serve.
- Brew with a French press for a stronger flavor.
- Place an individually-sized strainer in a cup for convenience and cost-effectiveness.
- For a classic coffee taste, use a coffee cone and filter taste.
- You could use a Moka pot for a deeper, more intense flavor similar to espresso.
The method you choose comes down primarily to your personal taste and the equipment you have. Whatever method you use, make sure you can easily remove the beans or transfer the coffee to a different container before adding your caramel and cool.
Choosing Your Coffee Beans
The method for making your coffee is important, but the most important part is the coffee itself. There are three basic things to consider when choosing a bean for your iced coffee:
- Where it came from
- Its roasting level
- Its grind consistency
Coffee beans are typically grown in hot, humid places where the tricky-to-care-for plants can thrive. This means most of the world’s coffee comes from South American and African countries.
Each country’s growing conditions are different, so the beans end up tasting slightly different. For an iced coffee, you’ll want something smooth and sweet like Guatemalan or Costa Rican beans or something fruity and refreshing like Ethiopian or Kenyan beans.
You’ll also want to consider the roasting level of your beans, as this will affect the final flavor. Roasting is done in four intensities – light, medium, medium-dark, and dark – that produce more intense flavors as you go down the scale. Since some of the coffee flavors are dampened by the cold, you’ll want to go with a medium roast. You can use medium-dark or dark roasts, but you will get a bitter aftertaste.
If you are on the hunt for a sweet, smooth medium roast coffee we recommend you try Coffee Brothers, it is one of our favorites when making iced coffees. Be sure to also check out our top picks for best Arabica coffee beans.
Finally, think about the grinding level you want to use. As with roasting levels, grinding levels can affect the overall flavor of the coffee, as a finer grind allows more flavor release faster in the brewing process. Because you’re looking for a strong but not bitter taste in iced coffee, the best grinding level is medium to medium-fine (about the consistency of sand or table salt). Any higher than that, and you risk lots of bitterness.
Making Homemade Caramel Sauce
Of course, in a caramel iced coffee, the caramel itself is going to matter quite a lot. A store-bought caramel will work perfectly fine provided it’s of high enough quality. However, if you want full control over how your coffee tastes, you can make caramel at home. It’s not as difficult as you might think. All you need is sugar, butter, heavy cream, salt and optional flavoring such as vanilla extract.
Making the Caramel Sauce:
- Unsalted butter – 1 ounce
- Heavy cream or non dairy substitute – 1/4 cup
- Packed brown sugar – 1/4 cup
- Salt – 1/4 teaspoon
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
Step By Step Process:
1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
2. Add the heavy cream, brown sugar and salt while stirring.
3. Thicken by bringing to a low simmer for 4 minutes, stirring regulary.
4. Remove from the heat and add in the vanilla if desired.
Note: The caramel can be stored in an airtight container for up to two weeks in the fridge and used again!
For a fun twist, you can always add various flavors to the caramel to match your taste; try vanilla for a richer taste or adding a bit of salt for a more intense flavor.
How to Make the Perfect Caramel Iced Coffee
Now that you have everything needed, you can assemble the perfect caramel iced coffee:
- Brew your coffee using whichever method you prefer and place about 6 to 8 ounces of coffee in a cup of your choice.
- While the coffee is still warm, add your caramel sauce, again to your preference,
- Stir until the caramel and creamer (if added) is completely dissolved.
- Cool your coffee completely, either by adding ice or allowing it to cool in the refrigerator.
- If you like your drink creamier, add 2 to 4 ounces of your favorite non dairy creamer, milk or dairy substitute such as coconut or almond milk that you prefer.
- Drizzle the top with a little caramel and add any toppings you want such as whipped cream or chocolate flakes.
As mentioned, for a creamier, sweeter coffee, you can add milk or liquid creamer to your iced coffee after cooling. Avoid powdered creamers, though – they’ll be harder to dissolve in the cold coffee.
Tips for Great Iced Coffee
Here are a few tips and tricks for making your caramel iced coffee even better.
- Water makes up the majority of the drink, so don’t neglect it! Using filtered water for brewing can make for better coffee no matter how you’re drinking it.
- Once you’ve figured out your ideal coffee recipe, make a big batch at one time and store it in the fridge for delicious caramel iced coffee any time you want it. This is also a great idea for parties!
- If you don’t want your coffee to get diluted by melting ice, freeze some coffee into ice cubes ahead of time to use in the drink. Bonus coffee!
- Remember to store your coffee beans properly between brews; keep them in a dark, airtight container at room temperature.
- Try making your caramel iced coffee into affogato – pour it over vanilla ice cream for a delicious dessert.
Make Your Own Caramel Iced Coffee
Caramel iced coffee is decadent, delicious, and definitely, worth the time it takes to make. It’s a creamy treat that just works for busy days in the sun or lazy days of beach reading. The best part about it is that it isn’t that hard to make – all it takes is a little time and a willingness to drink a lot of “test cups.”
If you’re looking to expand your barista skills this summer, try your hand at making your own caramel iced coffee at home. Experiment with different flavorings and intensities to find the brew that works best for you.
We have even more delicious coffee recipes for you to try at home such as this caramel macchiato or latte. We hope you can check them out!
Wishing you a caramel filled coffee cheers!