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.

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 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.

Japanese Iced Coffee vs Cold Brew Iced Coffee

espresso brewing on ice
Brewing espresso over ice

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!
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