How to Make Cold Coffee at Home Without a Machine

Iced coffee without a machine

Nothing is quite as delicious as a tasty iced cold coffee on a warm summer day. Unfortunately, iced coffee made at home can often come out watery and bland, especially if you don’t have a coffee machine.

But fear not! With a few simple steps, you can get delicious iced coffee at home without having to make a mega-investment in a coffee machine. To make iced coffee at home without a machine, you first have to choose how to make your base coffee.

delicious cold coffee without a machine

Now, there are many ways to make coffee without a machine, the easiest is to use instant coffee. But we can do better without too much extra effort or equipment.

To make filter coffee, all you need is a jug, some coffee grounds, and a filter.

coffee filter

You can buy them at many supermarkets, but if you don’t have any around, you can make your own using a fine mesh filter (think the sieve that you use to wash quinoa) and a paper (or reusable cloth) coffee filter with something to hold it – the sieve can often do double duty here.

cafetiere for coffee making

If you want to invest a small amount of money into your coffee equipment, consider a French press (also known as a cafetiere), it’s a jug containing the mesh filter already and a V60. Both of these can be used to make your hot or cold brew coffee making easier with minimal investment.

v60 to help with filtering

You now have a choice – hot brew or cold brew.

The hot brew is made using hot water, whereas cold brew uses cold water. Both have their benefits and will produce different results, so it’s worth experimenting to see which you prefer.

I usually stick to cold brew as I find it produces smoother results with less acid (and my stomach thanks me for it), oh and bonus – I can make several days’ worth in one go, less washing up too. The downside to cold brew is you need to remember to make it in advance – as the brewing process takes between 12 and 24 hours.

Both hot coffee and cold brew can be as low-tech as you like, they’re a bit fiddly but completely doable with just a jug, a filter, and something to hold the filter (I’d use a sieve or a heatproof funnel if you’ve got nothing else).

Coffee Filter Rules

Rule number one of making great-tasting coffee using a coffee filter – the first liquid through paper filters tastes gross! Never put your coffee into a dry filter, instead, put your filter into its holding device and filter some plain water through it – the water can be hot or cold just make sure that you throw it away before the coffee goes in – as I said, it tastes gross. If you don’t believe me, have a smell of it before you put it down the sink.

The Hot Coffee Method

Just remember that you’re aiming for a strong cup of coffee because the ice in your drink will dilute the coffee – double espresso is a good target.

There are many methods of making hot coffee, but for the best machine-free cold coffee (and fast) I’d recommend following my minimal tools hot coffee technique.

Now, if you have a machine – go ahead and use it to make yourself a tasty espresso to use as your cold coffee base.

Making Cold Brew – Minimal Tools Method

For cold brew, add the coffee grounds to the jug and pour cold water over it. Make sure you have plenty of time though, it takes between 12-24 hours, although if it goes longer it’s not usually a problem (mine has gone to 48 hours before when I forgot it by accident). Follow the minimal tools cold brew method to keep yourself on track.

Assembling Your Cold Coffee

Right, so now we’re onto assembling our cold coffee.


  • Coffee base to your taste (I choose an espresso shot sized portion of my cold brew as the base, but you can use a hot espresso shot – or a double if you’re after a proper jolt)
  • Ice Cubes – there are a few options, and it’s down to personal taste – so check to make sure you haven’t run out of your favourite before you start assembling the coffee
    • Classic frozen water
    • Frozen (diluted to drinking strength coffee cubes – beware of espresso cubes… you’ll be inviting the jitters for sure!)
    • Frozen milk cubes (cow milk, almond milk, soya milk, coconut milk, oat milk – whatever you fancy really
  • Liquid to top up your glass – choose a milk to your taste, or water if you’re after the hardcore black coffee flavour – or why not mix and match? Despite my black coffee preferences, I’m a big fan of a mix of coconut and hazelnut milk (with a dash of water) in my cold coffees!
  • Sugar or sweetener to your taste

Onto Assembly

Choices! Do you fancy a blended drink – or a cold coffee with floating cubes? It’s completely up to you! You can even be bold, and have a mix of the two!

For a Blended Drink:

iced coffee smoothie
  1. Add your shot of coffee, cubes, milk or water and sugar / sweetner to a high powered blender **smaller ice cubes work best here!
  2. Blitz until you get the texture you want – I like it like an iced slushy – try to avoid over blending as you can’t go back!
  3. Add to a glass (straw optional) and enjoy before the ice melts!

For a Cubed Drink:

  1. Add your espresso shot to your ice cubes in the glass you want to drink it from –
    • But if your coffee is still hot – you can either use large ice cubes and adjust the volume of milk or water that you put into the finished drink, or give it a vigorous shake in a cocktail shaker over ice (pretend you’re making an Espresso Martini), and drain the coffee off the iced cubes, and then add it to fresh iced cubes in your glass.
  2. Top up with the milk, water and sugar / sweetener of your choice
  3. Sip and enjoy the changing flavours as the ice melts!

Why not try both methods and let me know which one you prefer in the comments!

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