How to Make an Iced Coffee Bar

Mason jar cups with iced coffee and ice cubes

Created by: Emily Caruso, Jelly Toast

Just because it’s hot outside doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a great cup of coffee. Put together your own iced coffee bar for your next summer party and your guests will be thrilled!

Being a coffee lover, I enjoy my java all year long. From the frigid Midwest winters to the hot and humid summers, nothing changes about my coffee routine except the temperature of my brew. When the heat and humidity rise outside, I switch to iced coffee inside. But making iced coffee at home used to stump me. How do you get a great iced coffee at home that isn't watered down or weak in flavor? The answer is cold brewing.

Cold brewing your own coffee is both easy and economical. After your coffee is made, just add a few more touches, such as a variety of flavored creamers and some cute straws. You have a full-blown iced coffee bar! I’m pretty sure every summer party would be enhanced by an awesome iced coffee bar.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Choose your coffee. This is a matter of personal taste. I tend to gravitate toward medium or dark roasts and I've found Private Selection™ Sumatran Mandheling to be a great choice for cold brewing. Use a coffee that's full in flavor and that you enjoy when it’s brewed hot. You'll need 11-12 ounces of ground coffee.
  2. Gather your equipment. You'll need a food storage container or large pitcher, a fine mesh strainer, a batter bowl with a spout, paper towels, a ladle and a decorative drink dispenser or pitcher. Paper towels are a great choice for filtering your coffee. With the invention of single-brew coffee makers, I haven't been keeping traditional coffee filters on hand, but I always have a stock of paper towels. I've found that paper towels from Kroger are extremely economical but very strong. They hold up to all the wet coffee grounds without tearing and making a mess of my lovely iced coffee.
  3. Cold brew your coffee. Pour your coffee grounds into the large food storage container and add 1½ gallons of cold water. Cover and refrigerate for at least eight hours or overnight.
  4. Filter your coffee. Line the mesh strainer with one or two layers of paper towels and set it over the large batter bowl. Working in small batches, ladle the cold brewed coffee mixture into the paper towel-lined sieve. Allow the coffee to drain through the paper towels. Pour the strained coffee into a decorative drink dispenser or pitcher. Replace the paper towels as needed. Refrigerate the coffee until you're ready to serve it.
  5. Set up your iced coffee bar. When it’s time for your party, set out your dispenser of cold brewed coffee. Stock the bar with large glasses, a full ice bucket, flavored creamers and cute straws. Try adding chocolate or caramel sauce for a little extra flavor! Be creative and add the elements you love to a great glass of iced coffee.