Why You Shouldn't Pour Freshly Brewed Espresso Over Ice

From macchiatos to cortados and cappuccinos, espresso-based drinks come in a dazzling range of forms. Yet, although preparing your coffee choice may seem effortless when done by a professional, there are many possible espresso-making mistakes to watch out for when making your drinks at home.

An especially common pitfall is pulling an espresso shot over ice. Although it seems like the most convenient path to cold drinks like an espresso tonic or iced latte, doing it this way will actually diminish the flavor. The impact of the ice on the espresso affects the flavor, leading to an over-extracted taste. The coffee will become bitter and one-dimensional, with limited acidity and sweetness. Plus, the ice will quickly melt, causing a watery texture sans any tasty crema or body.

To alleviate these problems, pour the espresso over cold water or milk first, and then add the ice and stir. Doing it this way will gradually cool the coffee rather than shocking it, and the result will still be deliciously ice-cold.

Espresso poured directly on ice creates bitterness

For ease of preparation, add all the necessary cool liquids (milk, plant-based versions, extra water) to your serving vessel and then pull the shot directly into the glass. A ratio of one part liquid to two parts prepared coffee amount is a good starting point. However, since the iced coffee will have a variable volume depending on the style, there is no need for precise measurement. Regardless of the beverage, the ice should always get mixed in last. That way, it's a lot less likely to melt, too.

If you're looking to sweeten the drink, turn to syrups, whether it's a homemade simple syrup, or a designated coffee syrup brand. They'll function best to combine with the ice without clumping. To employ standard granulated sugar or honey in your coffee, stir it with the hot espresso first, and then add the mixture to the cool liquid.

The sky is the limit for iced coffee possibilities. If you're looking for strength of flavor, you could craft an iced Americano or an iced flat white for a more coffee-forward flavor. For more refreshment and a hint of sweetness, espresso tonics are in style. And, of course, there's always the good old iced latte for those craving something milky.