10 Ways to Spice Up Cold Brew Coffee

A steaming cup of hot coffee is a drink you can pretty much drink any time of the day, but there’s something about cold brew that is just as tasty and addictive. A cold brew can hit the spot on a hot summer day, helping to refresh you while giving you a jolt of caffeine.

It’s for these reasons and more that it has become such a popular drink in the United States and worldwide. But cold brew has changed, and nowadays, people have more choices than ever before.

If you’re a huge fan of cold brew, you’ll be happy to hear that April 20 is the day to celebrate this tasty beverage, as it’s National Cold Brew Day. Sure, this isn’t exactly a talked-about day, but that doesn’t make it any less fun. Even Dunkin’ has gotten in on the action and is giving a free cold brew to their Dunkin’ Rewards members. To ring in a special day, here are 10 of the best types of cold brew to try.

Homemade Cold Brew

Hand pouring cold brew coffee in a bottle with transparent glass full of ice on green leaves background
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Let’s kick things off with a simple option: homemade cold brew. You don’t have to leave the house to find a fabulous cup of cold Joe, as it’s relatively simple to make. It comes down to how much time you have to wait for it and how intense you like your cold brew. The longer you can let it sit, the stronger it will get.

Traditional homemade cold brew needs to be steeped in the fridge for 12 to 15 hours, but because most people don’t want to wait that long, there is a quicker method. Many online recipes will produce a fabulous and flavorful cup of cold brew in just two hours.

Stick to the Cold Brew Roots and Drink It Black

Cold Brew Coffee with Ice
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This type of cold brew is not for everyone, as it’s incredibly strong. However, if you want an instant jolt, nothing beats drinking cold brew over ice black and unsweetened. There are no other flavors to compete with the coffee beans; it’s just pure coffee.

If you like the idea of drinking cold brew but are afraid it may be too strong when black and unsweetened, try a medium roast, such as the one you can purchase in the grocery store from Starbucks. A medium roast will have less bitterness, and you’ll likely be able to taste more of the flavor profile.

Play Around with Different Syrups

A glass of espresso mixed with vanilla syrup, milk and ice, topping with caramel syrup
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Flavor syrups are commonly used in coffee-based beverages to add interest and create a more diverse taste. Those same syrups used in hot coffee can be used in cold brew, so don’t be afraid to stick with your favorites.

Some of the most popular flavor syrups to add to cold brew include:

  • Caramel
  • Vanilla
  • Hazelnut
  • Maple

Toppers Make for a Fun and Fancy Cold Brew

Pumpkin spice cold Brew in a glass
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Nataliya Arzamasova

Whether you’re in the mood for something fancier or making a cold brew at home for guests and want to make an impression, toppers are the way to go. They have visual appeal and will completely transform the taste of the cold brew. There are no rules about which toppers to use and which you can combine, so don’t be afraid to be creative.

Some of the more popular toppers include whipped cream, coconut flakes, ground cinnamon, and chocolate shavings.

Turn Your Cold Brew Into Something More Tropical

Iced Coconut Coffee In Double Wall Glass
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Speaking of coconut flakes, if you’re a fan of coconut, try swapping out the milk or cream for coconut milk. It will add a delicate flavor that cuts through the bitterness of the coffee bean. If the coconut milk isn’t strong enough for you, try coconut cream. The cream is much thicker, so just a small amount is all that’s needed.

A Scoop of Ice Cream Will Transform the Drink

Espresso with Affogato Ice Cream Italian food or drink
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Sometimes, it’s not so much a cold brew you crave; instead, it’s a sweet dessert. So why not combine the two and have the best of both worlds? Start with a traditional cup of cold brew, or you can even purchase something pre-made at the grocery store. Now, put a scoop of your favorite vanilla, caramel, or chocolate ice cream in a cup with some ice and pour the cold brew over it. It’s like an ice cream float but even better.

Add Cold Brew Cubes to Your Cold Brew

frozen coffee cubes with milk - cocktails on marble table
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A common complaint about cold brew is that it’s too watered down. If you’re not starting with a dark roast, adding ice and cream or milk will water down the coffee. A simple way to fix this problem is to add cold brew cubes to your cold brew. Simply pour cooled dark roast coffee into an ice cube tray, and then you’ve got ready-made cubes to go.

If you want more of a kick, you can make espresso cubes.

Don’t Wait for Sugar to Dissolve – Use Condensed Milk

Vietnamese ice coffee with condensed milk, cafe sua da on a wooden background
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One frustration with cold brew is how long the sugar takes to melt and mix in with the coffee. A great solution is to use sweetened condensed milk. Just go easy on how much you use; it’s stronger than you may think.

Spiked Cold Brew

Iced coffee with lemon
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When craving a cold brew in the afternoon or evening, you can make it a spiked version. Adding alcohol to a cold brew is the perfect pairing and adds an air of sophistication. Many different alcohols mix well with cold brews; a few that come to mind include rum, whiskey, and brandy.

Coffee Shop Cold Brew

Girl holding glass of iced coffee of Dunkin Donuts shop
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We can’t tie up this list without including coffee shop cold brew. No, we aren’t talking about the fancier options like Starbucks, but we mean coffee shops like Dunkin’. Dunkin’ takes its cold brew so seriously that it has limited quantities daily since it is craft-brewed in small batches.

If the cold brew sounds a bit too basic for you, try asking about a flavor shot to elevate the taste.

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