What’s the Deal with Iced Coffee?


Scene: A coffee shop. The first perfect, 85-degree late spring day in Brooklyn, NY.

Dramatis Personae: BS, an easily disgruntled food blogger.

Conflict: The same issue that brews through my caffeine-addicted mind every time the weather gets this warm. I get to the front of the line and see:

Hot Coffee:  $1.25

Iced Coffee: $2.50

WTF? Why is iced coffee so damn expensive? Is it really that hard to cold brew coffee? Because it seems like you’re paying twice as much for goddamn ice. Ice costs like 99-cents for a giant bag, and of course you can just make it yourself for, oh I don’t know – free! Even factoring in the price of water, I’d say a cup of ice costs about 1 cent, which means that charging me $1.25 extra for ice in my coffee is basically a 10,000 percent markup. Pound for pound, iced coffee is the most expensive drink in the world!

Needless to say, I went with hot coffee. I’m considering going back up there and asking for a (free) glass of ice water, dumping out the water, and pouring my coffee over the ice.


Previously on ES: What’s the Deal with Mozzarella Sticks?

Getting a Chip off My Shoulder

(Photo: Kanko*)

You may also like


  • Liza May 21, 2009  

    OMG PLEASE ask for the cup of ice water and dump out the water and pour the coffee over ice just to make a point!!! I love dramatic food moments – when I was little My mom took me to TCBY and I wanted white chocolate mouse yogurt with sprinkles in a cone, but TCBY said they could not put sprinkles on a cone, only if you ordered a cup, so my mom got so pissed off she asked for a cup of sprinkles on the side and then proceeded to pour the sprinkles on top of the cone in front of everyone to make a point and then said WAS THAT SO HARD! At the time I was mortified but looking back it’s hysterical!

  • Michael May 21, 2009  

    I wonder how they make it. Cold brewed coffee can take considerably longer than hot coffee to make, tying up their equipment longer for a smaller yield. If they’re just pouring hot drip coffee over ice, then you’re getting a lower quality product AND paying too much.

  • doron hirsch May 22, 2009  

    It is explained in “the undercover economist”

    In a nutshell: It is a matter of getting the maximum amount of money from each customer. If one is willing to pay twice for a cold coffee, they will get it from him.

  • Patrick May 22, 2009  

    I do belive they generally double brew the coffee so that the ice will not make it to diluted. That would be the reason for the higher price.

  • Harmony May 22, 2009  

    Having worked at quite a few Dunkin’s, I give a nod to Patrick above. When making ice coffee they DO double brew it, so the coffee is twice as strong. Then they put it in a separate container to cool off some, and then only add the ice right before serving so as to keep the gross watering down affect to a minimum. I make mine the same way at home, its ever so much better then a regular pot of coffee put in the fridge until later.

  • mubbs May 22, 2009  

    Did ANYONE actually look into this?


  • Pingback: Feed Us Back: Comments of the Week May 22, 2009  
  • Harmony May 22, 2009  

    mubbs –

    I don’t believe the coffee shop was actually mentioned in the blog. I merely spoke about what I knew from experience. However I can’t say I’m surprised that Starbucks was vilified in that link. Any company that receives the huge amount of bad press as it does brings to mind the old saw ‘where there’s smoke, there’s fire’.

Leave a comment