A lotta latte for less

I’m addicted to McDonald’s iced coffee. At $2.13 for a large, it’s a bargain compared to Bigbucks and the flavors are good — lately I’ve been into caramel (and I’ve been hoarding dollar bills, dimes, and pennies in the car). It’s not low-fat, but you can get sugar-free vanilla if it makes you feel better — sometimes I do. I love that it’s big enough to make the 36-mile, 1-hour drive from my mother’s to home a lot more enjoyable.

An even better bargain is this recipe I found a couple years ago in Better Homes & Gardens magazine. It makes a whole pitcherful of iced latte, is easy, affordable, and gets rave reviews from friends, and most importantly, from me.

The worst part is you have to be patient and plan ahead — it needs to steep for at least 8 hours or overnight.

Here’s the recipe as presented in BH&G — with my variations in italics.

Cool Coffee Latte

  • 1-3/4 cups (5 ounces) good-quality medium roast coffee beans
  • 5 cups cold water
  • 4-1/2 cups 1% low-fat milk (I use the “enriched” skim we buy)
  • 1/2-cup fat-free sweetened condensed milk (I freeze the remainder from the can in a 1/2-cup portion to use next time)
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise (I use 1-1/2 to 2 tsp. vanilla)
  1. Place coffee beans in a food processor (I use a coffee grinder) and process 45 seconds or until coffee is coarsely ground and no whole beans remain. (This takes much less time in the coffee grinder.)
  2. Combine coffee and 5 cups cold water in a medium bowl, stirring to combine. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
  3. Combine low-fat milk and condensed milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean; add seeds and bean to milk mixture. (I just use vanilla.) Cook 8 minutes or until thoroughly heated (do not simmer), stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; let cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
  4. Strain coffee mixture through a cheesecloth-lined fine sieve into a bowl. Discard cheesecloth and solids. (I skip the cheesecloth and strain a couple times, using a fine metal strainer first and then a reusable coffee filter I have — actually that I bought just for this purpose.) Pour coffee mixture into a pitcher. Yield is approximately 3 cups coffee extract. (I always seem to get more — 4 cups at least.)
  5. Remove vanilla bean from milk mixture, and discard. Add milk mixture to coffee mixture just before serving. Stir well to combine.

Yield: 8 servings (about 1 cup per serving) (Again, I always end up with more.)

The recipe says this is best if used within 2 days, but I usually have it on hand longer — a week or more — since I’m the only one drinking it. It still tastes great.

I love it so much I bought a pitcher on eBay just for it.

Sure makes opening the fridge a whole lot more exciting on a warm summer day. And it makes everything else a little more exciting, too. Try it — you’ll see!

straining combining 2
ready to go
hello beautiful
work aid

He was my cream, and I was his coffee —
And when you poured us together, it was something.
~ Josephine Baker


  1. Facie said,

    Thursday, July 9, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    I have tried the McCafe coffees at least three or four times, but I can never seem to like them. I thought something was wrong with me until I posted this admission on my Facebook page and discovered a handful of others who thought the same thing. I am glad you like it; I want to, because it is so much cheaper than Bigbucks (I like that name!). My fave is actually the coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts. I have tried their iced coffee with a splash of blueberry. So good. Probably around $2, but can’t remember.

    Mostly I just splurge for flavored creamers at the grocery store.

  2. WritingbyEar said,

    Thursday, July 9, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    I’ve never tried any of the new coffee drinks at McD’s except for the iced coffee (which they had before the other, fancier drinks), but then, I don’t buy them at Bigbucks either — I’m a chai drinker there. I do like Dunkin coffee, too, but the two stores closest to us closed up. Mostly I get my fix at home — I splurged last year on a cup-at-a-time coffee maker and that’s been great.

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