Reverse Iced Coffee Recipe – Coffee Ice Cubes in Milk

This is a reverse iced coffee recipe that uses coffee ice cubes in milk, or water, and not regular ice cubes in coffee, as you can find in most of the coffee shops. We will talk about the benefits of using coffee ice cubes, even milk ice cubes, and we will give you the recipe for for this backwards iced coffee.

Making iced coffee at home is easier than you think, and many people just do it without any recipe, or instructions. If you really want your iced coffee to taste great, better than the iced coffee at Starbucks, or Dunkin Donuts, you need some tips. There are some tricks to ensure your coffee doesn’t oxidize and taste stale, and it has enough kick to pick you up when you need it.

Benefits of Using Coffee Ice Cubes

I could say consistent beverage strength throughout the whole cup. However that’s not quite true, because the reverse iced coffee gets stronger as it melts.

You know when you are almost done your Starbucks iced coffee? There is very little coffee in there and a lot of ice. All of that ice make your coffee too watery to the point is not drinkable anymore. You want to throw it, but you just won’t. The reverse iced coffee recipe fixes this nagging problem and your coffee will taste better at the end of your cup.

If the coffee is too strong at the end, just add a splash of water and the problem is fixed.

Hot Coffee or Cold Brew?

Iced coffee can be made with either cold brew, or hot brew coffee. It is a matter of preference. Using cold brew is the simpler recipe. If you want to use hot brewed coffee, you need to brew on ice. And if you wonder why, we explain that in the next section.

I personally recommend you to use cold brew, but again, this is just a matter of preference. We have a few guides, if you need a refresher, but this is the one we think it’s the most popular: How to Make Cold Brew with a Mason Jar and a Disposable Filter Bag.

You can also use a vacuum cold brew coffee maker, if you want it fast, but I personally recommend a large batch of immersion cold brew, as it is the most efficient way for this purpose.

On the other hand, cold brewing take a long time to prepare, and if you can’t wait until your next batch is ready, hot brew over ice is a great choice.

Hot brew has its own advantages, the most important on being the convenience of brewing a large quantity relatively fast. The hot brew coffee flavor is the other great reason, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

Hot Brewed Coffee – Japanese Iced Coffee

Why is cold brew coffee better for iced coffee? This is still a hot topic in coffee circles and both options have their advantages.

One problem with hot brewed coffee is that it oxidizes very fast because of the high temperatures. That’s why you shouldn’t keep your carafe on the burner more than a few minutes. Hot coffee and air do not go well together. Coffee that has cooled down completely should be discarded, and this is what happens in any restaurant or café that respects itself.  This is the reason we can’t just brew a filter coffee and wait for it too cool down and then prepare your frozen drink.
Important: This is why you cannot use leftover coffee for iced coffee, and not even to make coffee ice cubes.

There is, however, a little trick you can resort to, so you can use hot brew in your ice coffee. The trick is to cool down the coffee very fast, so it doesn’t have the time to oxidize. The longer the coffee stays hot, the more it will oxidize. This is the reason some people like their coffee very hot, not because of the temperature, but because it’s fresh, and the aroma profile starts to change when coffee cools off.

The modern trend of using hot brew for ice coffee comes from Japan. Japanese coffee shops developed the technique of brewing on ice cubes so that the coffee cools off instantly. The brew method is called Japanese iced coffee, and you guessed it, it was invented in Japan. You can use any hot brewing method for Japanese iced coffee. You can see in my pictures I used espresso, but you can employ manual drip, a regular drip coffee machine, or even an ice coffee maker. The only important thing is that coffee has to be brewed on ice cubes so that we minimize the time it stays hot.

Is Japanese method better than cold brew for iced coffee? Some people like it more, because it has all the great attributes of a hot cup of coffee, minus the temperature. This brewing method preserves the aromatics of the hot coffee even when it is cooled down. There was a great article about hot coffee chemistry on Peter Giuliano’s coffee blog, which he deleted since. There is a copy of that post on, and I think it’s a great article. If anything, I think it’s a bit too passionate. Nevertheless, the cold brew has its own advantages, and for regular iced coffee drinkers is better.

The key takeaway is that you can use any coffee brewing methods for your coffee ice cubes. The most important things are that you like the coffee, and you cool it down fast.

Japanese Iced Coffee vs Cold Brew Iced Coffee

espresso brewing on ice
Brewing espresso over ice

Firstly, let’s not confuse the Japanese iced coffee with the Kyoto-style cold brew coffee, which is also called Dutch cold brew coffee. Japanese iced coffee is a hot brewed coffee, whereas Dutch cold brew is a slow drip using water at room temperature.

So what’s the fuss about Japanese iced coffee? Is it really better than cold brew? Hot brewed coffee is the best-tasting, at least that’s what my tasting buds have decided.

Many coffee lovers, however, like better the delicate flavors of cold brew coffee. You need a refined palate to appreciate those flavors. On the other hand, cold brew can be stored in the fridge for weeks without any changes. Japanese iced coffee needs to be consumed on the spot. Even when it’s chilled, it will eventually go stale because the aromatics in the brew are not chemically stable. Cold brew is smooth tasting, and because it only contains cold extracted soluble solids, it can be stored for a long time without any chemical changes.

In the end, there is no definite winner here, use whatever you like better. Just remember that cold brew is easier on the stomach, and it can be stored in the fridge for days. Cold brewing also results in a more complex flavor and less bitterness than hot brewed coffee. On the other hand, hot brews have that special kick and some strong flavors. The major problem with hot brews, as  Kevin Haugen explains it on, is that the sugars extracted at high temperatures turn rancid and sour when coffee is cooled slowly. An interesting experiment performed by Daniel Gritzer, and described in this article, shows that depending on how you drink your coffee, black or with milk, might require a different brew.

Remember, when brewing on the ice, the coffee gets quite watered down, as it melts the ice cubes. To compensate for this, make a stronger pour-over, and don leave the ice cubes too long in the coffee. They melt even when coffee has cooled off. Transfer the coffee when it reaches room temperature.

The Iced Coffee Recipe – Coffee Ice Cubes in Milk

I don’t add milk to my coffee unless is iced coffee. Even with iced coffee, there is a high chance I’ll drink it black. For those who need milk in their frozen joe, the perfect marriage between milk and frozen coffee cubes is almost a form of art. The drink looks stunning, and it tastes even better. The beverage will stay strong until the last sip, it will actually get stronger by the end.

Here is the recipe:

Cubes Preparation

  • Freeze coffee in cube trays, I used baby food trays, but you can use fancier trays. Sweeten your coffee before freezing it, if you like to.
  • Freeze water in cube trays, water ice cubes can help you tone down your beverage if it’s too strong.
  • Freeze milk in cube trays; if you like your coffee sweet, make sure you sweeten the milk before freezing it. You can use regular cow’s milk, or almond milk. Coconut milk has a strong flavor, it overpowers the coffee, so I don’t recommend it. My personal favorite is cow’s milk, but I am not a vegetarian.

Coffee Ice Cubes in Milk Recipe

Once all the cubes are frozen, you can fix your cold caffeinated refreshment. I would suggest you try a smaller batch at first so that you know how much sugar and milk you need in your glass.

  • Fill a tall glass with 1/3 coffee ice cubes, 1/3 milk ice cubes, and 1/3 water ice cubes.
  • If the coffee ice cubes are from the Japanese brewing method on ice use 2/3 coffee ice cubes and 1/3 milk cubes. The coffee from brewing on ice is already diluted, so you don’t need the extra water.
  • Top off the glass with milk, (optionally sweetened, and flavored with French vanilla, or chocolate.)
  • If you want your beverage low in calories, use water to top off the glass, and replace the milk cubes with ice cubes. The coffee will still be delicious.
  • Make sure your water ice cubes are made with good tasting water, and in quality freezing trays with lids. This is to ensure your coffee tastes better than the iced coffee at Starbucks.
  • Optionally add a little booze to your concoction to make you coffee time special. Just a little Kahlua liquor or Baileys are great. Enjoy it!

Frequently Asked Questions

Reverse iced coffee is a method of making iced coffee where hot coffee is brewed and then rapidly cooled, then frozen into cubes. The coffee ice cubes then are used instead of water iced cubes, to prepared the drink.

Regular iced coffee uses coffee as the base, and it’s cooled down with ice cubes, whereas reverse iced coffee uses frozen coffee cubes to cool a base of milk or coffee.  

You’ll need coffee beans and water, and optionally milk.

You’ll need a coffee maker, or brewing device, a grinder if using whole beans, a container for cooling and serving the coffee, and ice cube trays.

The brewing process can take anywhere from a few minutes for hot brew methods, to 16 hours, depending on the brewing method. The cooling process is typically quite quick if using a coffee chiller.

Yes, you can use any type of coffee beans you prefer, though the flavor profile of the beans will affect the taste of the final product. The best coffee for cold brew is a medium roast, from South America.

This can vary depending on personal preference and the specific recipe, but a common ratio is 1:15, one part coffee to fifteen parts water for hot brew, and 1:9 for cold brew.

Yes, you can adjust the recipe by scaling the amount of coffee and water used.

After freezing the coffee and the milk cubes, it is best to store them in a sealed container to avoid freezer burn, and odor contamination.

Yes, you can add milk, sugar, or other flavorings to taste. However, when using cold brew in your recipe, you’ll find that you don’t need these as much as with hot brew.

You can experiment with different types of coffee beans, brewing methods, flavors, and milk to coffee to water ice cubes, to create your own variations.

Reverse iced coffee can offer a refreshing, flavorful coffee experience, especially in warm weather. The rapid cooling process can also help to preserve the flavors and aromas of the coffee.

No, cold brew coffee is made by steeping coffee grounds in cold water for an extended period of time, which is a brewing process. Reverse iced coffee is the extra step you take to prepare aq coffee drink with already brewed coffee.

The coffee and milk cubes can be kept in the freezer for months, if properly stored. The prepared iced coffee can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Yes, you can use any coffee brewing method you prefer. The method will affect the flavor, the strength, and the mouthfeel of the final cup.

Always use fresh, high-quality coffee beans and clean, filtered water. Experiment with different brewing methods and added flavors.

Yes, you can use decaffeinated coffee beans if you prefer. But good decaf coffee beans is rare, so the flavor might be affected.

The nutritional content can vary depending on the type of coffee and any added ingredients. However, black coffee itself contains virtually no calories, fat, or sugar. Once you start to add milk and sugar, you add calories.

This recipe is perfect for a commercial setting, but you should ensure that you are following all relevant health and safety regulations.

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