The Biggest Mistake To Avoid With Iced Coffee, According To An Expert

There are plenty of ways we can mess up iced coffee, which is probably why we spend so much time (and money) in places like Starbucks. An expert told Mashed that one mistake trumps them all, and it doesn't come down to amateurish technique.

Matt Woodburn-Simmonds is a coffee expert and ex-barista who shares his home-brewing tips over on his website, Home Coffee Expert. He said that when it comes to making iced coffee, the biggest faux pas you can make is "using pre-ground coffee." Sorry, Nespresso pod fans. According to Woodburn-Simmonds, pre-ground coffee is so limiting because "you lose the flavor oils from coffee beans within 40 minutes of grinding." Because pre-ground coffee is, well, pre-ground, this means "you're never going to get something close to the flavor of a cafe."

There's no sneaky workaround for this one, unfortunately — if you want great coffee, it's time to switch to beans. "Grinding your beans fresh is the easiest way to improve the flavor of your coffee at home without changing anything else," says Woodburn-Simmonds. Luckily there are some great grinders out there, whether you're on a budget or looking for something a bit fancier, so there's no time like the present to take Woodburn-Simmonds' advice.

How to grind coffee beans at home

Coffee grinders can generally be split into two types: blade grinders and burr grinders. Blade grinders operate similarly to a food processor, chopping the beans with rotary blades. This method is a bit inconsistent, however, and can result in some beans being chopped more or less finely than others. A burr grinder passes the beans through plates, on the other hand, giving a more even powder. You can get both automatic and manual grinders, although manual grinders are generally considered better for their more even output.

If you want to try beans before you bring yet another gadget into your house, there are a few ways of grinding them without a machine. If you have a mortar and pestle, you can throw some beans in and grind them up until they're a nice even powder. Alternatively, you can place the beans in a sandwich bag or some cling film and use a rolling pin.

Both of these methods can be manually taxing, so if you want to give your arms a rest, a food processor will also do the trick. This will give you a pretty good idea of what beans ground with a blade grinder will look like, as the food processor's blades are likely to provide the same uneven cut — unless you have a seriously fancy piece of kit.