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Aug 1, 2010 02:12 PM

Why is Iced Coffee twice the price of fresh hot coffee?

This feels like an ipsedixit type post (and jfood uses that as a positive) but here goes.

Restaurants brew coffee to serve hot in the morning and it has a certain shelf life in minutes not hours. No the time has come where the choice is to pour down the sink or shove it in the fridge, let it cool and then recycle over ice. And the Einstein theory on all this is that you can charge twice as much for the stuff you almost threw out. Brilliant.

Why? When you fill the glass with ice it is about the same amount of liquid, so that answer is off limits.

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  1. The coffee shops around me don't recycle their coffee like that. They cold brew which is a lengthy process and the end result is an extract. Ice, extract, fill with water. I can only assume the price is due to the long brewing process.

    17 Replies
    1. re: cookingasshole


      Have you ever cold brewed at home?

      1. re: jfood

        my lady got me the cold brew 'kit' like five or six years ago and I only used it a few times before I lost the tiny all important cork. If I remember correctly the grounds have to be really coarse and you soak them in water overnight (in the fridge) and then in the morning you pull the cork out and let it drain for a really long time. I drank it without diluting it and it was pretty freaking awesome.

          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

            That's it!

            Unfortunately I broke the decanter years later. Now I really want to get a whole new set up after this discussion.

            1. re: cookingasshole

              I didn't know there was a specific gadget for cold brewing ... I just use a pitcher, then in the morning pour into another pitcher through a paper filter-lined sieve. Works like a charm.

                1. re: cookingasshole

                  I put 6 tablespoons ointo a french press, fill the remainder with hot water. Let it steep 10 minutes or longer. Pour into a pitcher swirl it around so it cools, then add cold water. You dont have to wait all night and if u like it strong, to hold up against the melting ice, you can easily adjust how much water you're adding.

                  1. re: 2slices

                    That's iced coffee. Try brewing for 6-12 hours with cold water. It's really a different product, much smoother.

                  2. re: cookingasshole

                    Glad I could help save you $ and cabinet space CA ;-)

                    1. re: odkaty

                      Seriously! I was totally about to go out and buy one! Thanks again!

            2. re: cookingasshole

              I met my husband in '86 and he was using the Toddy system then and we've used it ever since. It's a snap to use and to me offers no excuse for a place to charge more for iced coffee than hot.

              1. re: c oliver

                OMG! C oliver I have always assumed your were 'he". SMH!
                What is toddy system?

                1. re: Quine

                  Hmm, pretty sure I'm a she. Catherine.

                  LOVE the Toddy system:


                  We travel a lot and it's so easy to put it in a camping bottle and check it on the airplane. To me there's nothing better when in a new place than to have that first cup of coffee being right there and tasting just like you want it to.

              2. re: cookingasshole

                "the grounds have to be really coarse and you soak them in water overnight (in the fridge)"

                i prefer a very fine grind for cold brewing - more yield and quicker. the vietnamese method with sweetened condensed milk is probably my favorite.

                1. re: epabella

                  Could you tell me more about that please? The Vietnamese coffee part.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    I saw this feature about Vietnamese coffee a while ago, which has a good amount of info:

                    1. re: c oliver

                      where i learned the fine art of cold brewing back in 2002:

                      another great resource:

                      nice wiki on the subject:

                      where i get my beans (possibly the best coffee vendor/specialist in the philippines):

            3. As cookingasshole noted, it is a different process, but also requires *more* coffee grounds, in order to limit how diluted it becomes when added to ice. Also many people drink iced coffee with sweet and cream, simply because it does hold up so well to the additions.

              These are the reasons it costs more, if the shop is doing it correctly. If not, then, yeah, you are being ripped off.

              1. J>>>
                You are showing our age.
                Iced coffee was made with yesterday's leftovers. When it ran out, that was it, or they had to brew a double strength batch and cool over ice.
                None of this modern cold brew process at very high prices. I still make a whole pot at home and refrigerate the 8 cups I don't drink to make ice coffee. I even freeze some as ice cubes.
                I recently asked a friend who owns a small luncheonette (oxymoron, but only 11 stools) and he said that the tall cup for ice coffee is significantly more expensive than his hot to go cups. Also, it takes more cream, sweetener plus the ice for the larger cup.

                11 Replies
                1. re: bagelman01

                  thanks B. Until theother day jfood had never heard of cold brewed coffee. live and learn.

                  1. re: jfood

                    Cold-brewed really does make the best iced coffee, I think. At home, I take the concentrate straight from the fridge, into a glass with no ice, and dilute with milk instead of water. Full-strength coffee, and a bit more nutrition for my morning with 8 oz. milk instead of 1.

                    Number of threads about cold brewing here on CH over the years, and this article may be of interest:

                    1. re: jfood

                      Me neither. I wonder if there is a cold-brewed method for tea?

                        1. re: jfood

                          Thanks J. I make Sun Tea which becomes my Iced Tea on the second tea...

                      1. re: buttertart

                        It's found in the Department of Redundancy Department.


                        1. re: buttertart

                          you noticed I labeled it an oxymoron, it's in the same class as Giant Shrimp

                          1. re: bagelman01

                            Not to belabor it but "small" and the diminutive ending "-ette" are tautological not oxymoronic. Now "big luncheonette" is an oxymoron. But who cares, really.

                        2. re: bagelman01

                          I jump on this bandwagon. I am a coffee person who would * love* a decent drink of Iced coffee this time of year. I've never had a cold brewed coffee, any temp. I am so jealous. i stopped ordering Iced coffee at any place when I got, a coffee, hot served over ice cubes. To my "old fashioned mind, it's like Why not chill that last pot of last night, so you can give me iced coffee today?

                        3. Tongue in cheek? Because ice cubes costs a lot. When movie theatres and baseball stadiumes can charge $4 for a 16oz bottle of water (not spring water but plain tap water) then by the same token, ice cubes will be even more expensive because of the trouble they had to go through get them frozen. :)

                          1. When you're talking about the price of something at a retail food or beverage establishment -- whether a coffeeshop or restaurant -- you do understand that the #1 cost in anything they do isn't ingredients, it's labor.

                            Do you?

                            It's just not clear that you understand that at all from the post you wrote here. Until you comprehend that much, this conversation is kind of pointless.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: swag

                              So you're saying that it takes more labor to make an iced coffee than a hot coffee? THAT I don't comprehend.

                              1. re: c oliver

                                Hot Coffee--> Take empty cup, pour in Hot Coffee, serve
                                Iced Coffee--> Take empty cupm add ice, pour in Cold coffee, serve

                                add extra steps for either for cream, sweetener, to go cup and lid.

                                Either way, there is still at least one extra step in the serving of iced coffee.

                                Now in the preparing of iced coffee, old fashioned way, brew pot of coffee, if hot, just pour and serve, if for Iced Coffee, pur into a second container, place in refrigerator over noght, take out of refigerator and pour.

                                More steps, more labor, higher cost.