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When Was Iced Coffee Invented? The Fascinating History & Evolution

a glass of iced coffee on a dark wooden table

Out of all the coffee drinks available at coffee chains and local shops, iced coffee is arguably one of the most essential drinks to have on the menu. Whether you prefer traditional iced coffee or cold brew, the concept of drinking chilled coffee isn’t entirely new. While there are virtually endless ways to order an iced coffee now, the first iced coffee was more of a necessity.

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When was the First Iced Coffee Made?

The very first iced coffee may not seem like the iced coffee of today, but the concept of drinking chilled or cold coffee started in the 1840s with Mazagran. Mazagran is a drink made from cold water and either coffee or coffee syrup. While it’s a rare type of drink today, the first mazagran was the start of a significant movement in the coffee industry.

a glass of mazagran with ice
Image Credit: Ekrem Yigit, Shutterstock

Where was Mazagran Invented?

Named by French soldiers after the region in Algeria, the origins of mazagran are a bit unclear. One account says the French troops occupying the area drank cold water and coffee syrup beverages from the locals. Another version says that French soldiers used water in their coffee once they were out of milk, drinking it cold to help fight the unyielding heat. While the accounts somewhat differ, each account refers to a chilled, sweetened coffee beverage.

Mazagran in France

Upon returning to France, many of the soldiers brought back the version of the mazagran that they remembered, and it started becoming popular in Paris and other parts of France. Eventually, in the 1950s, other iced coffee drinks were invented and started to overshadow the original iced coffee. Today, mazagran is not very common, except as a summertime drink in Portugal.

Mazagran (Delicious Lemon Coffee)
Mazagran is a cold espresso drink that originally comes from Algeria, though it’s now much more popular in Portugal. It’s essentially coffee lemonade, combining citrusy acidity with the bold flavor of espresso. The lemon juice was originally added to improve the flavor of low-end coffee beans. But don’t hesitate to use your pricier beans -- this tasty drink won’t ruin their flavor.
Try this delicious recipe!
mazagran lemon coffee in cups with bottle of honey

The Modern Iced Coffee

With the Mazagran being the first iced coffee, other iced coffee-inspired drinks started coming out soon after. The idea of brewing hot coffee and pouring it over ice started showing up around the late 19th century, while other concepts like coffee slushes were also invented. Still, it wasn’t until the 1920s that iced coffee became a “mainstream” coffee idea, eventually catching on at coffee and fast-food chains.

a glass of iced coffee on a white saucer
Image Credit: hekoer_1, Pixabay

The Invention of the Frappe

One of the most important iced coffee inventions after mazagran is the frappe, which was a complete accident. Dimitris Vakondios, an employee of Nestle, accidentally invented the frappe in 1957 while making a quick and easy chocolate drink for children. Having no access to hot water, he used hot water and ice and shook the contents together. The result was a creamy, foamy texture that we recognize as the frappe today.

Traditional Iced Coffee

Iced coffee as we know it today usually refers to drip-brew coffee poured over ice, which is still how most iced coffee is made. Although it’s not the first iced coffee, this is the most traditional iced coffee in modern times. This style of coffee is usually sweet, and a bit bitter, which is from the hot coffee mixing with the cold temperatures of the ice.

How to Make Iced Coffee at Home
Our favorite way to make iced coffee at home is using a pour-over brewer like the Chemex, Hario V60, or Kalita Wave. Pour-over iced coffee is, in our opinion, the best way to make flavorful iced coffee at home without worrying about getting watery coffee.
Try this delicious recipe!
Chemex iced coffee pouring

Cold Brew

One of the most popular methods of iced coffee is cold brew coffee, which involves steeping coffee beans in a jar or container for 12 – 24 hours. The cold brew became a huge success in coffee shops, especially in local places that specialize in premium coffee blends. Cold-brew iced coffee has the flavor depth of hot coffee, without the bitterness of drip-brew.

How to Make Cold Brew in a Mason Jar
All you need to make cold brew is coarsely ground coffee, cold water, and a Mason jar. Oh, and 16 hours, but trust us, it's worth it! Here are the simple steps.
Try this delicious recipe!
How to make cold brew in a mason jar


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Iced coffee is beloved by millions daily, with coffee shops coming out with new flavors and types to keep up with the demand. While iced coffee isn’t a completely modern concept, it’s not as old as it may seem. With the invention of mazagran and the popularity of it spreading throughout France, the concept of iced coffee was able to grow. Today, iced coffee is an important part of coffee culture and shows no signs of slowing down.

Featured Image Credit: StockSnap, Pixabay


Jaimie Wisniowski

Jaimie is a freelance writer fueled by coffee, whether it’s hot, iced, or made from a local coffee shop. She enjoys writing all things coffee, especially if it means trying the latest coffee shop trends (hello cold foam!). After spending years writing poems, college essays, and short stories, it only a matter of time to turn writing into a career. Writing about coffee simply combined two of her favorite things! When she’s not drinking coffee by the minute and writing at her laptop, Jaimie spends time hiking, exercising, and living an active life. She also loves to snuggle up with a good book and her dog, Margo. If you catch her without a cup of coffee, she’s probably on her way to the coffee maker now.

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