Is it possible to make cold coffee from capsules?

You need to pass hot water under high pressure through ground coffee to make a traditional espresso, and all coffee capsule machines follow this rule. However, among all capsule coffee machines, only the Dolce Gusto allows the preparation of cold drinks, although this option does not apply to coffee drinks*, but only for fruit drinks.

*There are two exceptions: Cold Brew Capsules and Cappuccino Ice.

For coffee lovers, whatever the time of year and the weather, a nice hot cup of coffee is always in the mood. But that doesn’t mean we always have to drink it that way – there are easy ways to transform a perfect espresso into a cold or iced coffee. And since capsule machines don’t do it automatically, we will have to be creative.

The three main methods for making cold capsule coffee are:

  • Prepare an espresso over a glass of ice.
  • Brewing an espresso and chilling it in the fridge
  • Brewing an espresso and adding iced milk

Why doesn’t a capsule coffee machine prepare cold coffee directly?

Most capsules of the different brands tend to contain a quantity of ground coffee of around 7 grams for their espresso drinks, through which they pass hot water at more than 85 degrees Celsius and pressures of 19 bars. Here are the exact values at which the Nespresso coffee machine works:

  • Amount of ground coffee: 7 grams
  • Water pressure: 19 bar
  • Type of grind: Relatively fine
  • Brewing temperature: 86 degrees Celsius
  • Coffee temperature in the cup: 71 degrees Celsius
  • Brewing time: 5 seconds pre-infusion and 25 seconds brewing time
  • Final volume of coffee extracted: 25 millilitres

The pressure of 19 bars is unique to capsule coffee machines, as traditional espresso machines typically use around 9 bars and others such as Moka machines use less than 2 bars. In other words, pressure is not a key value in coffee preparation.

On the other hand, all coffee preparation methods use very high water temperatures below their boiling temperature (100ºC). The temperature and grind are essential for the coffee to extract its full flavour and aroma into the water. Just as we could not make coffee by passing hot water through unground beans, we could not make water by passing cold water through ground coffee.

Can you make cold coffee with a capsule machine?

Physically, only the Dolce Gusto would allow us to “make coffee” with cold water. All other capsule coffee machines only have buttons for making hot coffee. In many cases, the temperature can be changed (a few degrees) through a setting that is achieved by pressing certain buttons.

All coffee machines start the heating element as soon as they are switched on, and when a certain temperature is reached, the heating element is switched off by a thermostat.

If the water heating element did not work, the coffee maker would not allow us to prepare coffee, as this is a condition included in its microprocessor. In short, if coffee machines allowed coffee to be made with cold water, they would not be coffee machines.

How to make cold capsule coffee

It is already clear that coffee must be prepared hot to extract all its flavour, aroma, and properties. So, to have a cold coffee drink, we can only cool it once we have extracted it. For this, we have selected three methods that we are sure you will love:

Extraction of coffee from capsules on ice

Extracting coffee over ice is a very simple technique. For a cold espresso, prepare a glass with ice, at least twice the volume of the espresso. Place this glass under the nozzle of the coffee machine and press the extraction button.

Preparing espresso over ice
Preparing espresso over ice

Coffee that falls at a temperature of about 77°C will immediately melt the ice cubes, resulting in a cold mixture of water and coffee. But having dissolved our espresso in water, it will no longer be considered espresso but a cold Americano.

Once the coffee has reached the desired temperature, you can remove the ice cubes to not water down the coffee any further.

Cooling the coffee from the capsule in the freezer

The only way to get a cold espresso is to wait for it to cool down. However, cooling an espresso at room temperature can take up to 4 hours, to end up with a coffee at over 20ºC. If we want to speed up the process, it is advisable to put the espresso in the fridge or freezer.

  • A freshly extracted espresso coffee at 77ºC, when placed in the freezer (-18ºC), will take less than an hour to reach 10ºC.
  • A freshly extracted espresso coffee at 77°C, when placed in the refrigerator (5°C), will take about 2 hours to reach 10°C.
Espresso coffee in the freezer
Espresso coffee in the freezer

Mix your espresso with iced milk

Another method to cool your coffee very quickly is to mix your espresso with very cold or iced milk. Although this is not espresso, but rather a coffee with milk, it will cool the drink very quickly.

Ideally, you can place a glass with milk under the nozzle of the coffee machine so that the freshly extracted coffee is immediately mixed with the very cold milk.

Extracting espresso over very cold milk
Extracting espresso over very cold milk

Related: What is freeze-dried coffee?