There are those who will tell you that putting milk and a sweetener in good coffee is practically sacrilegious. I agree. That being said, I do have one exception: fancy café drinks. Because come on, they're tasty things, especially when they're iced and you're sipping one on warm spring or summer days. It's sort of like if you're a wine-lover: Inevitably when it's hot out and you need a refreshing late-afternoon drink, you'll take the sangria, right?
So, how to make the best café-inspired iced drink? The standard milk and sugar route is boring and expected — you need something different. Here are five things to try to make that homemade iced latte worthy of a warm afternoon.
1. Create homemade syrups.
Forget sugar — make your own simple syrups. All you have to do for homemade syrups is to start with a basic simple syrup (one-to-one sugar-to-water ratio) and then figure out a flavor that will pair well with your iced coffee or cold brew.
How to make simple syrup: Straight Up: DIY Simple Syrup
Here is where you can get creative. I am intrigued by the blackberry syrup from How Sweet it Is, made with fresh blackberries, sugar, and water. Cardamom syrup, perhaps?
Try a recipe: Recipe: Homemade Caramel Syrup for Your Coffee
2. Add a splash of homemade vanilla sweet cream.
If you've every tried the vanilla sweet cream in your iced coffee at Starbucks, you know it's obsession-worthy. It's luscious and velvety and vanilla-rich. Luckily, it's easy enough to make at home with half-and-half, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla extract.
Get the recipe: How To Make Starbucks-Style Sweet Cream at Home
3. Use coconut milk.
Coconut milk is a popular iced latte ingredient in the non-dairy crowd. It works well because of its very creamy consistency. In fact there's even a recipe for making coconut cold brew by adding in toasted coconut with the coffee grounds before adding in the cold water.
4. Use your blender.
If you want the ultimate in a summer drink, then you're going to want your coffee blended. It's easy to make blended coffee drinks at home, which allows you to make them cheaper and healthier than they would be at a cafe. Try this recipe for a mint and choco Frappucino, made with dates instead of sugar and cocoa nibs as well.
5. Spike it!
It's summer, after all, and if you want to add a little booze to your iced coffee then have at it. You can make your own coffee liqueur and mix that in with your iced drink, or take a tip from the bartenders making craft coffee cocktails and experiment with flavor combinations. Amaretto, perhaps?