Few things in life bring me more joy than sipping on a refreshing, flavorful iced coffee drink during the hot summer months. But the only thing I don’t love iced coffee drinks? They are a bit of a scam.
Although most iced coffee drinks actually contain less coffee than hot coffee drinks due to the amount of ice, they can end up costing more. And if you order an iced latte, beware: your barista may pour regular milk over your espresso with no foam or steam to speak of.
Because I’d like to go a little further on my wallet this summer and not end up ordering two iced coffee drinks just to get all the caffeine I need for the day (and yes, I did) , I spoke with coffee experts to get their tips for getting more bang for my buck from summer coffee drinks. Here’s what they had to say.
Ask for ice in a separate glass
You can skip the whole my iced coffee is half iced thing by just asking for ice in a separate cup. “You can do this for the standard ice cream, but also for mixed Frappuccino drinks – just ask for the mixed item in a separate cup from the rest of the drink so you can add as much as you want to your coffee,” Kevin suggested. Lewis, Founder. of one UK based coffee blog and the YouTube channel dedicated to coffee Cafe Kev.
Bring your own extra large reusable cup
When you bring your own mug, it’s better for the environment — and you can also pay a little less, if you’re lucky. “The barista may not know exactly what the size of the cup is and will often charge a standard charge for their own cup or for a regular,” Lewis said. In other words, all that ice cream won’t matter as much if you don’t pay an arm and a leg for it.
Check if your coffee offers a cold foam topping
Traditional steamed milk won’t work in an iced coffee drink because hot milk will melt your ice. But that doesn’t mean your iced lattes and cappuccinos have to be completely frothless.
“Most coffees offer cold froth or cold topping where milk or cream is cold frothed/stirred and then added as a topping to your drink,” said Bethany Smith, former barista and writer for the coffee site. A cup every day. “This is a common addition to cold brew, but can also be added over a latte or iced coffee.”
And if they don’t offer a cold foam topping, ask for a cocktail-style shake of your coffee and milk. “Some cafes (like Starbucks) offer shaken espresso drinks, i.e. they combine espresso and milk together and then shake them together in something similar to a cocktail shaker “Smith said. “This creates a frothier drink that more closely mimics a hot latte.”
Ask for an extra shot of espresso in your iced coffee
It sounds like a way to spend more money on your iced coffee, but it could actually save you money in the long run. “An extra shot normally costs less than a standalone espresso,” Kieran said. MacRae, resident coffee expert at Above average coffee. “I’ve seen cafes where a standalone espresso is $1.90 and an extra shot is only 50 cents!” So if it saves you from needing a second coffee later, you can save money overall.
Ask for bigger cubes
If your coffee has it, large ice cubes may be the answer. “Large cubes will melt slowly, prolonging coffee dilution,” said Rosio Flores, barista trainer at La Monarca Bakery, a Mexican bakery and cafe. “Or just ask for light ice cream.”
Or, just do it at home
If you really want to brew your own iced coffee or any other summer coffee drink, make it yourself and spend less money while you’re at it.
“Iced coffee is remarkably easy to make at home for a fraction of the price you pay at most cafes. You can either buy a lower-cost iced coffee maker (like the Mr. Coffee iced coffee maker) or just use a normal drip coffee maker,” said James Hyslop, co-founder of the home-brewing-focused site. The Coffee People.
You can also use a cold brew bottle like the one made by Hario, which allows you to brew a single serving in a portable container.
Are cafes trying to rip you off during iced coffee season? Probably not on purpose, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Luckily, there are a handful of hacks out there that can help you get your money’s worth, so put them to work.