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The Rising Popularity of Iced Coffee

With an endless variety of iced coffee flavors, variations and recipes, it’s no wonder this beverage is a favorite around the world. A simple dollop of whipped cream on iced coffee transforms a basic beverage into an ultra-rich and refreshing treat.

Cold coffee has grown especially popular with young adults, which is why you’ll often see college students with iced coffees on their way to class — even in cold weather. So, where exactly did this popularity come from? Read on to learn where and how iced coffee started, how it’s made and why it’s become so popular over the years.

What Is the Origin of Iced Coffee?

Historians can trace iced coffee’s roots back to 1840 Algeria, a country in western North Africa. The first iced coffee was known as mazagran. This sweet and cold coffee beverage was reportedly developed by the French military during the Battle of Mazagran. When the French army ran out of milk, they added water to their coffee instead. Additionally, they chose to drink it cold due to the harsh outdoor heat.

When the Mazagran veterans returned to Paris, they brought up an idea to cafe owners — serving this new cold coffee drink in tall glasses to their customers. From there, this drink would be named café mazagran and officially make its debut to the rest of the world.

As mazagran spread to different countries, it took on different variations. For instance, the Austrian mazagran includes a shot of rum and an ice cube. In Portugal, they often use espresso, mint, rum and a slice of lemon. The Vietnamese serve it with sweetened condensed milk on ice, and Germany has a variation known as eiskaffe — coffee with ice cream.

How Do You Make Iced Coffee?

Now that you’ve learned a brief history of this sweet and refreshing beverage, how can you make iced coffee for yourself? Because there are so many variations of this drink, there are a variety of methods. We’ll provide a couple of examples below.

1. Portuguese Mazagran

While the traditional mazagran came from Algeria, it’s now considered a staple in Portugal. Here’s how to make the Portuguese variation of this drink.

First, you’ll need:

  • A single or double shot of espresso, hot
  • The juice from half a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1 ounce of rum
  • ¼ cup of cold water
  • Some mint leaves
  • Ice cubes

Next, here are the instructions to follow:

  1. Pour the sugar into the hot espresso so it dissolves, then pour this mixture into a bowl and let it cool.
  2. Add your lemon juice, water and rum to the cooled espresso.
  3. Pour some ice cubes into a tall glass, then pour the espresso mixture over it.
  4. Add some mint leaves to the glass, then enjoy!

2. Frappe

Though you can enjoy a refreshing frappe across the globe, the traditional version comes from Greece. Make your own with the steps below!

You’ll need these ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons of instant coffee powder
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of cold water
  • 1 cup of cold milk
  • A jar and lid or a cocktail shaker

Making this drink is quite simple. Add your coffee powder, sugar and cold water into your jar or cocktail shaker, then shake well. Pour this foamy mixture into a chilled glass, then top it off with your cup of cold milk. You can also substitute the milk for water if desired.

3. Eiskaffee

Eiskaffe is the German variation of iced coffee. With a scoop of vanilla ice cream and some chilled coffee, you can make this delectable treat on your own!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 scoop of vanilla ice cream
  • 1 chilled cup of strong brewed coffee
  • ½ cup of whipped cream
  • 1 teaspoon of chocolate syrup or grated chocolate shavings
  • 1 German wafer cookie

Once you have your ingredients, follow these steps:

  1. Drop your scoop of ice cream into a tall chilled glass.
  2. Pour your chilled coffee into the glass.
  3. Top the drink with some whipped cream.
  4. Sprinkle on the chocolate shavings or drizzle the drink with chocolate syrup.
  5. Slip the wafer cookie into the whipped cream and enjoy!

When Did Iced Coffee Become Popular?

We know that iced coffee is a beloved beverage today, but when exactly did this popularity begin? Iced coffee truly boomed in 1920 due to a marketing campaign in the United States by the Joint Coffee Trade Publicity Committee. From here, iced coffee would grow widely popular, appearing in menus and recipes worldwide.

This popularity shows no signs of slowing down, especially among the younger generation. Today, millennials are more likely to drink cold and frozen coffee drinks than hot ones. They believe the coldness enhances the drinking experience and releases more nuanced flavors. To them, it’s more than just a product — it’s also an experience. While iced coffee can be expensive, they’re often willing to splurge on it because they see it as an affordable luxury.

Millennials value the convenience of iced coffee as well. For instance, cold coffee products in convenience and grocery stores are usually available in sealable glasses and cans, making them easy to purchase and enjoy on the go or at home.

What Makes Iced Coffee So Expensive?

If you’ve ever wondered why iced coffee tends to be expensive, it’s largely due to the extra labor, machinery and packaging required. Iced beverages typically come in a plastic cup with a straw. These items are more expensive than paper coffee cups, which suit hot beverages. Additionally, there’s the expense of an ice machine, which can cost thousands of dollars to purchase and additional money for upkeep.

Another contributing factor that makes iced coffee more expensive is the labor and time. In most cases, workers must first brew coffee hot before cooling it over ice, meaning there is an extra step of preparation. Cold brew, or coffee brewed cold for a long time, takes around 12 to 16 hours.

While the actual cost of making iced coffee may be virtually the same as brewing hot coffee, many places will charge a little more for iced coffee because of demand. Higher demand for an item increases the price, so the popularity of iced coffee is partly to blame for its higher costs.