Given the already sweltering temps, you're probably tipping back more than a few ice brews per week. Which is great—we've already established that coffee is pretty kick-ass for both the mind and body, so drink up! But even if you consider yourself a coffee aficionado, odds are that you're still not optimizing your favorite summer beverage. From ice to sweeteners to other funky and delicious add-ins, there's a whole lot that can go wrong (or right!). Here are 5 surprising ways you're messing with your iced coffee—and how to create your most delicious cup yet.
1. You assume DIY iced coffee takes too damn long.
Well, it can—if you're brewing then chilling in the fridge. But to speed up the process, we love this genius tip from lifehacker.com about making iced coffee in a cocktail shaker. Simply brew up an extra strong cup of coffee, add it to a cocktail shaker with lots of ice, then shake, shake, shake! It will be totally cold, and since you started with extra potent coffee, it won't be diluted. Transfer chilled coffee to a glass or to-go cup and add a bit more ice to keep it cool as you sip. (Make your own cold-brew in just a few crazy-easy steps.)
2. You're not making coffee ice cubes.
Take too long to drink your iced coffee on a hot summer day and you'll end up with a cup of ultraweak coffee-flavored water. But this simple hack ensures that won't happen: Pour some leftover coffee into an ice cube tray, freeze, then use the cubes in place of regular ice cubes to keep each sip as strong and flavorful as the first. And if you scoff at the idea of ever having "leftover coffee," just make a point to brew an extra cup in the morning for the sole purpose of filling your tray. (Ever wondered why coffee sends you to the restroom? Yup, this is why coffee makes you poop.)
3. You're not asking for "light ice" when you order.
OK, OK. So maybe you're not going to make coffee ice cubes—but you can at least ask for "light ice" the next time you order from Starbucks or your coffee shop of choice. Happy customers around the internet estimate that when you order a tall "light ice" coffee, you end up getting as much coffee as you would if you ordered a typical grande.
4. You assume it has to be low protein.
How could iced coffee possible contain protein? Our thoughts exactly, until we started experimenting with collagen powder—a colorless, tasteless powder linked to improved joint and skin health, that happens to pack 11 to 18 g of protein per servinf. We're big fans of it around the Prevention office (here are 4 pretty crazy things that happened when we started eating collagen powder every day); and honestly, when we add it to cold or hot coffee, it tastes just like regular cold or hot coffee. If you're not a breakfast eater and have no plans to become one, consider it the simplest way to infuse your mornings with more filling, energizing protein without changing your routine. (Finally lose your belly in just 10 minutes a day with this reader-tested workout.)
5. You've never made an iced coffee smoothie.
Iced coffee = the most delicious, underrated smoothie liquid ever. Seriously, with the right combo of ingredients—think: coffee with frozen banana, peanut butter, unsweetened cocoa powder, and almond milk—you can achieve Frappuccino-esque flavor for about a third of the sugar, and with a totally clean nutritional profile. But don't take our word for it. Try one of these 8 coffee smoothies that will make you a much more pleasant morning person.