If you are on my email list and got last month's Saving Money Challenge email (WHAT? NOT ON THE LIST? jump on it right this second!!) , you'll know that I challenged myself to perfect my at-home iced coffee skillz. 


For any of you with a coffee or tea addiction, you probs have realized how much it can add up if you repeatedly buy your coffee/tea at a coffee place. It's EXPENSIVE, yo. So I challenged myself (and am challenging you, in this post!) to figure out how to make your coffee/tea at home so it's just as delicious as at a coffee shop!!


My research:

Let me tell you... I worked HARD on this month's challenge. I tried the Pioneer Woman's iced coffee recipe (in a much smaller batch). It was good, but not life changing. I tried a few brands of coffee beans: Eight O'Clock, Cafe Bustelo, Dunkin Donuts, Gevalia. I bought a cold brew coffee from Starbucks (it was okay, but I didn't really taste a difference from their normal iced coffee).


I tried almond milk and spent $8 on Trader Joe's cold brew concentrate (ehhh it was okay).


I made lattes when I got tired of iced coffee ;) (and tried sweetening it with honey... it was okay but I don't know if I like honey-flavored coffee?)


I did taste tests of different iced coffees (with beer tasting glasses.)


I took notes (yes seriously). Obviously I missed my calling as a scientist/researcher.


I started isolating the things that I didn't like about each recipe attempt-- too bitter, too sour, too weak, etc. I started googling to figure out why the recipe was turning out sour, bitter, etc.


Through my research, I discovered something important: I think I prefer the taste of darker coffee beans, because they're less sour (?). This is good to know, since now I can stay away from lighter roast coffees because I know they probably won't be my favorite. Cool!!


I also experimented with using half and half and sugar syrup, instead of coffee creamer (trying to be healthy and avoid fake chemicals, blah blah). I tried two vanilla sugar syrups (this one, this one {pictured above}-- yes I had real vanilla beans to use but now I used them and will probably never again make recipes that use an actual vanilla bean, haha) and both were good. But nothing is coming close to the deliciousness of my favorite Irish Creme coffee creamer.


So what's the outcome of this experiment?

I need to keep trying beans until I find the ones I really like. Perhaps I'm not cut out for "healthy" coffee creamer and should just go back to my beloved Irish Creme creamer. And honestly, once you dump a bunch of that creamer in coffee, it all tastes delicious, no mater what beans you use.

I think the easiest + best cold brew method I found was a ratio of 1 to 4 coffee grounds to water. Stir together, leave at room temp for ~12 hours, the refrigerate overnight (~8 hrs) and strain the grounds out, then drink! (we have a french press so this is really easy, stir everything together in the french press then just push the plunger down at the end and boom, you're done!

This wasn't exactly a successful challenge-- yet! I'm still working on it-- but it did allow me to cut out things that I know I don't like, so I think it's a success in that regard!




Have you perfected your at-home coffee (or tea) skills?