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What Coffee Does Starbucks Use for Iced Coffee? And How to Make Your Own

It’s one of the best ways to enjoy coffee in the hot summer months. Iced coffee is what it sounds like—hot brewed coffee poured over ice and served with syrup to sweeten it. And as you may know, Starbucks offers great iced coffee types on its menu, including traditional style iced coffee, cold brews, and iced espresso coffees. 

You can easily make iced coffee at home, and you can even replicate your favorite Starbucks iced coffee. To do this, it’s best to use the actual coffee that the cafe uses. But what coffee does Starbucks use for iced coffee?

Read on to find out, and I’ll also teach you some brewing methods you can try at home as well.

How Is Iced Coffee Different From Other Cold Coffee Beverages?

iced coffee on top of a wooden table

The Starbucks regular iced coffee is a hot brewed coffee that is cooled and served with ice cubes and a syrup sweetener. It is quite easy to make, and you can use the same coffee used to make your usual hot cup of joe. 

However, iced coffee tastes more acidic than hot coffee, making it unsuitable for people with sensitive tummies. It also can taste watery because the drink gets diluted as the ice cubes melt. Alternatively, you can make coffee ice cubes to maintain the flavor, but this means more preparation time.

Unlike iced coffee, cold-brewed coffee does not use heat to extract the coffee. The process gives it more flavor and makes it less acidic. Generally, you steep medium ground coffee in cold water for up to 12 hours, resulting in a strong brew that you can serve with ice and milk. 

The Starbucks cold brew coffee is one of the most caffeinated beverages on its menu and is steeped for up to 20 hours, making it quite popular with coffee lovers. They also offer the Nitro Cold Brew, which is cold brew coffee infused with nitrogen bubbles. It is smoother and colder than the traditional cold brew with ice cubes and has more caffeine. 

There are also different espresso-based iced coffees at Starbucks, and these are made with espresso shots, ice, milk, and syrups. The Iced Caffe Americano is a famous example and is the iced version of the Americano. It contains an espresso shot topped with cold water and poured over ice cubes.

Another trendy Starbucks iced coffee is the Frappuccino which includes a special blend of instant coffee, various syrups and sauces for flavor, and whipping cream. The Frappuccino is notably different from a Frappe because it uses brewed coffee while the latter uses instant coffee. 

Additionally, Frappuccinos typically have less caffeine content than iced coffee and cold brews because they feature milk and cream.

What Kind of Coffee Does Starbucks Use for Iced Coffee?

The traditional Starbucks iced coffee uses the Terraza Blend. It is a medium roasted, pre-ground pre-packed coffee and is their signature blend for iced coffee. 

Starbucks Kenya

However, they also use their Starbucks Kenya medium roast coffee, which has a well-balanced acidic flavor that is more accentuated when served cold. 

Veranda Blend

For home brewing, Starbucks offers the Veranda Blend, a light-bodied South American coffee with hints of cocoa and lightly toasted nuts. 

Starbucks VIA Instant Coffee

You can also opt for their Starbucks VIA Instant Coffee, a blended instant coffee specifically for mixing in cold water. 

How to Make Starbucks-Style Iced Coffee at Home

As mentioned earlier, preparing iced coffee is relatively easy and takes little time. Also, you may want to prepare coffee ice cubes beforehand instead of water ice cubes to retain the coffee flavor. 

To make the iced coffee, you need to: 

Step 1: Prepare Coffee 

Starbucks uses a unique blend they call Terraza Blend to make its iced coffee base. However, you can use the Starbucks Kenya coffee, the Veranda Blend, or the instant coffee version of the Ice Coffee Blend to replicate this beverage at home. It will taste notably different because the coffee is different. 

If you do not have access to any of the above blends, you can use any medium roast coffee you have. The first step is to brew the coffee a little stronger than you typically would. Starbucks uses twice the amount of grounds to brew their iced coffee producing a strong flavored coffee that gets undiluted by the ice cubes. 

Step 2: Add Ice Cubes 

The next ingredient is ice cubes, and you can prepare coffee ice cubes with some brewed coffee. Put in as many ice cubes as necessary in your serving glass and pour the coffee hot and stir. Alternatively, you can shake the coffee and ice with a shaker to make slush instead of stirring.

Step 3: Syrup

Finally, you can add syrup or flavored syrup to sweeten the iced coffee and enjoy. Try to use light syrups that dissolve easily because it is a cold drink. Avoid using honey or sugar as they may not dissolve for the same reason. Alternatively, you can add sweeteners and flavors when the coffee is hot to dissolve faster. 


Can You Add Milk to Iced Coffee?

Iced coffee is a versatile drink, and many people prefer to add milk, cream, or ice cream to sweeten the coffee. While you can use any milk variety and alternatives such as oat or almond milk, espresso-based iced coffees, such as iced lattes, taste better with milk than pour-over coffee.

Can You Use Instant Coffee to Make Iced Coffee

Generally, traditional iced coffee uses ground coffee as the main ingredient. However, iced coffee drinks such as frappes use instant coffee, ice, sugar, and sometimes milk or cream. Additionally, frappes are shaken, not stirred, which gives the beverage its creamy texture. 

On the other hand, Starbucks offers an instant iced coffee blend that makes great-tasting cold coffee within seconds. The instant coffee blend is ideal for preparing various iced coffee recipes such as the wildly popular Dalgona coffee and other Starbucks favorites such as Caramel Frozen Blended coffee. 

Final Thoughts

Iced coffee is a beloved beverage worldwide with several preparation methods that vary from country to country. But if you love the Starbucks version, why not make it at home? 

Of course, to make it just like the original, you should use the coffee that Starbucks uses for its iced coffee. Choose from a custom Terraza Blend or the Starbucks Kenya coffee. Other options include the Veranda Blend and the Starbucks Starbucks VIA Instant Coffee, available on Amazon. 

Krista Haws

Known among her friends as 'the caffeine fiend', Krista loves all things coffee. From an extremely short, strong espresso to a 3 day cold brew, Krista loves them all.

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