Coffee Ice Cream

I love coffee ice cream, but rarely get it because the caffeine does a number on me. If I have coffee or even mocha ice cream after dinner I’m jittery until 3 am. So, when I opened David Lebovitz‘s new book, The Perfect Scoop and found a recipe for coffee ice cream on page 34, the ice cream maker bowl immediately went into the freezer. If you make your own coffee ice cream, you can make it with decaffeinated beans! No late night jitters. Safe for kids. David has provided helpful advice for me on practically every ice cream recipe on this site, which have all turned out great, so it’s no wonder that his new book’s recipes are spot on. I think this is the best coffee ice cream I’ve ever had.

Coffee Ice Cream Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups whole coffee beans (decaf unless you want the caffeine in your ice cream)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely ground coffee (press grinds through a fine mesh sieve)

Method

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1 Heat the milk, sugar, whole coffee beans, salt, and 1/2 cup of the cream in a medium saucepan until it is quite warm and steamy, but not boiling. Once the mixture is warm, cover, remove from the heat, and let steep at room temperature for 1 hour.

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2 Pour the remaining 1 cup of cream into a medium size metal bowl, set on ice over a larger bowl. Set a mesh strainer on top of the bowls. Set aside.

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3 Reheat the milk and coffee mixture, on medium heat, until again hot and steamy (not boiling!). In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks together. Slowly pour the heated milk and coffee mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly so that the egg yolks are tempered by the warm milk, but not cooked by it. Scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

4 Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof, flat-bottomed spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula so that you can run your finger across the coating and have the coating not run. This can take about 10 minutes.

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5 Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Press on the coffee beans in the strainer to extract as much of the coffee flavor as possible. Then discard the beans. Mix in the vanilla and finely ground coffee, and stir until cool.

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6 Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Makes one quart.

63 Comments

  1. lydia

    Decaf ice cream — what a great idea! I store the canister for my ice cream maker in the freezer, where I keep a can of decaf beans, too. Why haven’t I ever thought to put those two things together?!

  2. Mary

    According to this recipe you stir in finely ground coffee and leave it in. Is that right? I’ve made decaf coffee ice cream before (for my mother in law who also loves coffee ice cream, but absolutely can’t have caffeine), but I infused the custard with coffee and strained it out.

  3. Elise

    Hi Mary – the recipe calls for infusing 1 1/2 cups of coffee beans. You do add 1/4 teaspoon of finely ground coffee just for looks. You certainly don’t need them if you don’t want.

  4. Dena

    Elise, this is random, but I absolutely LOVE the print on your bowl! Do you know what the brand/print is called?

    Thanks!

    (and the ice cream looks oh so good, too. Someday I will buy an ice cream maker!)

  5. jonathan

    Infusing with whole beans versus using instant coffee? I gotta make me some of this.

    I discovered David’s web site through yours, Elise (belated thanks), and bookmarked a recipe of his for Honey Roquefort ice cream that I’m dying to try. With some roasted pears, perhaps?

    Enjoy your holidays!

  6. hot tub johnny

    What type of ice cream maker do you have? In his book – Does he go into the specifics of buying one and what to look for when making a purchase?

  7. Tea

    I’m with you, Elise, on loving the flavor of coffee, but also needing to sleep at some point. David is such a gem (and funny!), I can’t wait to check out the book…my ice cream making this summer is sure to be inspired. Thanks.

  8. sairuh

    Coffee is one of my favorite ice cream flavors, and I’ve been searching for a recipe which doesn’t depend on using liquid coffee (potentially watery/icy), or dried coffee/espresso (potentially odd flavor). Thanks for posting this, Elise; steeping whole beans sounds innovative! One question, though: would 1/4 cup sugar be enough, that is, to balance the bitterness of the coffee?

  9. shauna

    Elise, this looks so good. My copy is in the mail, so I haven’t been able to peruse it thoroughly. But now I know which recipe I’m going to make first, thanks to you!

  10. Deborah Dowd

    I love coffee ice cream! It is the base for one of my favorite quick company desserts – coffee ice cream sprinkled with crushed Heath bars and drizzled with Kahlua! Thanks for the tip- I need to check out this book (on second thought, maybe I need to wait until bathing suit weather is over!)

  11. Lisa

    I can already taste scoops of this ice cream pressed into a toasted graham cracker crust. Thank you Elise, this recipe looks marvelous!

  12. Kathy

    You’re killin’ me here with that picture…even the bowl makes it look more delicious! And I just finished breakfast!

  13. hot tub johnny

    How long does homemade ice cream last? Can it stay in the freezer for a week? Does it start to deteriate like form ice crystals, lose flavor, etc…

  14. sweetperceptions

    Lovely! Coffee is not for me, but I’ll love to have with decaf beans! Oh, I just can’t thank you enough!!! =)

  15. G S Kripacharya

    Dear Dena and Elise,

    This design is an Indian motif inspired by Mango. It is traditionally called AMBI design which is the local name for mangoes. This motif / design is very common all over india subcontinent in embroidery, hand block printing, machine printing, on invitation cards and even on pottery as you see here. India is one of the coffee producing and exporting country too.

    By the way, I love coffee ice cream and will try this. I appreciate the way this recipe thinks of preserving the flavour of coffee.

    Thanks,
    GSK

  16. Amy

    Hi Elise,
    I made some coffee ice cream the other day using instant espresso powder. I’ll have to try this way next time, looks delish and it’s great that you can use decaf beans. Is it possible to use ground beans and pass the steeped cream through a cheesecloth or would I have to use whole beans?

  17. Rosie

    We recently picked up an ice cream maker and this was the first recipe we chose to make. Given that we were a bit impatient the first go around, the texture was more of a coffee milkshake than that of ice cream but the tast was simply divine. Having since gotten a few more sorbets and ice creams under my belt, I thought I would revisit this recipe as a sweet ending for a dinner in honor of my beautiful mother for mother’s day.
    Rich, creamy and infused with the Italian Roast coffee, this is probably the best ice cream I’ve ever had. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. As an aside, I topped off the scoops with some crumbled Musso’s almond cookies that I picked up a Corti-Bros in East Sac. It was a great accompaniment.
    As always, thank you for the beautiful site and great recipes.

  18. Lisa

    This is THE BEST coffee ice cream I’ve ever tasted- and that includes all coffee ice cream- store bought, specialty ice cream store made, etc. I almost didn’t use this recipe because it seemed a bit complicated- but I’m glad I did! It’s not complicated, it just takes some time and dirtying of lots of dishes, but it’s sooo worth it! I used the best coffee beans and when I was freezing the ice cream, I added some finely chopped Vahlrona bittersweet chocolate. That little bit of chocolate flavor made it spectacular! Thank you for this recipe- I’ll definitely be back to your site when I’m in search of other recipes.

  19. Michael K.

    We made this ice cream last night and the results were just as you described. We’ll have to check out David’s book. We used 1% milk instead of whole milk (since that’s what we had) and the product was still very rich. We added pieces of a couple of small Skor bars at the end of the machine freezing cycle (alas, we couldn’t find Heath Bars locally). The resulting ice cream had another layer of taste and texture. The next time we do this, we’d be tempted to cut back a bit on the sugar. Thanks for this recipe. What an outstanding site you have!

  20. Dana

    Elise,

    We will be making this for guests tomorrow night.

    We only have 4 egg yolks at home – would it completely throw off the ice cream if we were to use 4 instead of 5? We NEVER eat eggs at home, so I don’t want to buy another 6 eggs just to get one yolk… but I will if you say that it needs the extra one!

  21. Muskeg

    Holey moley, this is a great ice cream recipe. I made a double batch using my local silverhook brand coffee (Kodiak roast) and g** d*** if this isn’t the greatest coffee ice cream I’ve ever had. Thank you!! -Neil in Anchorage, AK

  22. Gregg

    I have been making home made ice cream for about three years. Typically, I use light cream instead of the double cream and milk called for in this recipe and freeze it in a Lello 1 quart self-contained ice cream maker. I also used home roasted Columbian Popayan coffee beans.

    ( BTW…if you’ve never had home roasted coffee you are missing out on one of lifes’ truly great pleasures. It’s less expensive to buy and ship green beans and roast them at home).

    The results were outstanding. I may even sell this…lol.

    This is an excellent recipe. 5 stars.

  23. Daisy

    TOTALLY WORTH IT. That’s the first advice I can give about this (seems to me) labor-intensive recipe. When I got my ice cream maker, I imagined I’d throw in milk and sugar and I’d get ice cream. Not so. But so worth it.

    I also got WAY less than a quart. Pretty much right at a pint. I wonder if I used too much heavy whipping cream (had to make a substitution) and if that extra cream made it churn much faster than the powder mixes I’d used in ice cream before. This recipe finished churning after five minutes as opposed to the fifteen or twenty minutes I’d used for the powder mixes.

    Despite the extra effort – I’m definitely going this route in the future. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  24. TC R

    I intend to make this using Starbucks dark chocloate covered Espresso beans in place of some of the finely ground coffee. Put them on a coarse grind and add them last. It will add a slightly crunchy texture and surprisingly little caffeine, I snack on them all the time! ;)

  25. olivia

    Is it ok if i forgot about it and it boiled for like 10 minutes. It was frothy…

    I’m assuming that this is before the eggs went in? If so, it might be okay. What does it taste like? When you boil milk it can change the taste. If it tastes good, then I would go for it. ~Elise

  26. William

    I had a lot of trouble with this recipe, though I did make one mistake. I mixed all the milks together in the beginning, and then added the yolks and reheated as instructed. However, the mixure never got creamy as it looks in the pictures, little granules started to appear, the mixure became almost like porridge. The mixure did not strain through very well, so I must have done something completely wrong. Could adding all the milk together and not setting any aside really have done this? I figured I could add more chilled milk later if I thought it needed it.

    This is one of those recipes in which you really do need to follow the exact instructions for it to work properly. It sounds like you did not temper the egg yolks with the hot milk/cream mixture, but just put the eggs in with the milk/cream? Sounds like your mixture curdled. If this happens again, you can save it by putting the curdled mixture into a blender and then blending the heck out of it. The chilled cream is to help stop the cooking and prevent the curdling, so you definitely do want to split the cream. ~Elise

  27. Grace

    Hello,
    Your coffee ice cream looks really yummy. I really like to try the recipe. May I know whether I can replace coffee bean to instant coffee powder?

    Yes you can use instant coffee powder, but I don’t know what to tell regarding how much. It would likely not be a 1:1 substitution. You might want to check around for other coffee recipes online to see if you can find one with an estimate of how much instant coffee to use. ~Elise

  28. Tim

    This recipe is excellent. I made three different ice creams for dessert after a dinner of homemade pizza with friends. This coffee ice cream was the hit (others were coconut and french vanilla).

    I made a few minor changes to this recipe. I added a bit more cream to the cold milk. Instead of straining the warm coffee-infused cream into the cold milk, I strained first into an empty bowl over another bowl of ice. Then I poured the milk/cream over the beans to rinse them off a bit more. Then press it down to get as mich as possible. For the ground coffee, I just crushed two beans with the bottom of a shot glass.

  29. Brian

    I used cream/half and half instead of cream/whole milk and added chocolate chips at the end. Obviously not the healthiest change but it came out perfectly. I chose hazelnut coffee beans because I like the flavor. Thanks for the recipe.

  30. matt

    How bizzare. I also made this along with homemade pizza and had 3 ice creams as well. My others were cardamom and chocolate chip cookie dough.
    Anyway, this recipe was flawless. I used decaf organic dark roast coffee beans. Chilling the coffee custard down in the fridge and then sticking it in the freezer for about 20 minutes prior to adding it to the ice cream mixer allows one to make two batches without refreezing the bowl.

  31. nicole

    Oh boy… I should have made more. And it’s not even ice cream yet!
    I just made the mixture and it’s in the fridge to chill until tomorrow so I can make it tomorrow night for a party on Saturday (and hopefully that way it won’t quite be rock hard by the time we want to eat it). I tried a bit of the mixture after I strained it (ok, I licked the spoon. But at least I didn’t “try” more) to make sure that it’ll be worth the effort and MAN! It was hard not to find an excuse to eat the lot in it’s unfrozen state. I can’t wait until Saturday! And to think I was feeling slightly blah about the eggs/custard procedure. Easy peasy, just takes a while and a few bowls. Next time I’m doubling the recipe.

  32. Davie

    I followed the recipe above and only added 2 crushed Heath Bars. WO.oho.O! It’s rich! Very much a custard base and it’s really good. And if you have a 4qt ice cream maker, double the recipe above you’ll be glad you did.

    I found the custard style to be a bit too much egg for me so I crossed the recipe and made another batch. I like it! I also doubled the recipe to make 2qts. Here are the quantities, same directions as above.

    Davie’s Coffee Toffee Ice Cream
    2 cups whole milk
    1-1/2 cups white sugar
    3 cups whole coffee beans (Starbucks French Roast)
    4 egg yolks
    4 cups heavy whipping cream
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1-1/2 teaspoons of finely ground coffee (Espresso ground fine) I didn’t use the sieve, but then I really like chocolate covered coffee beans)
    4 Frozen Heath Bars, crushed

  33. brandie

    Oh baby am I in heaven. I hate coffee but my mom loves it so I made it and I love it. I don’t think my normal by the carton will ever be enough. Thanks
    Brandie

  34. Mary

    Elise, I am so happy to have stumbled across your blog. I searched for a couple of ice cream recipes and found this one. I did not use decaf as I am a caffeine junkie-I used Pete’s Major Dickison’s beans and added a vanilla bean to the milk and beans as they steeped-can I just say OH MY WORD-The finished product is out of this world. I made a double batch for a family party this weekend…so glad I did as I keep going back to the freezer for ‘just one more bite’. I also made your mint chocolate chip ice cream. It is unbelievable-my girlfriend was here a few minutes ago and tasted it-her remark was “It tastes so fresh and organic”-I have to agree-it is heaven. I can’t wait to jump in to your website and see what other wonderful recipes you offer….and so happy to see you are a Sacramento neighbor. Thanks for sharing.
    Mary in Sacramento

  35. Megan

    Oh my goodness. That was fabulous. I followed the recipe to the letter (a rarity for me) and it is absolutely perfect. Rich, intensely flavored and really creamy. I used regular Kona coffee beans and they were ideal. I just got an ice cream maker and was looking for a recipe that my fiance would really like. Your blog is always my go to place for great recipes and I was thrilled when I saw the coffee ice cream, he’s a total coffee fiend. We both loved it. Thanks!

  36. Grace

    I’m preparing to make this tomorrow. And wondering is there a reason why the 1 cup cream is separated and mixed w/ the rest of the mixture at the end? Could one just cook it w/ the rest of the eggs, sugar, coffee, etc. since everything will be chilled overnight in the fridge before used in the ice maker. I’m curious why the extra step. Thanks! Looking forward to tasting this.

    That one cup is kept chilled over an ice bath, so when you add the still cooking and possibly curdling custard base to it, it chills the custard base and stops the cooking. ~Elise

  37. Christine

    I will be making this recipe for a party on Saturday and I am very excited! A couple questions: Why the whole beans? Wouldn’t grinding or crushing the beans infuse the custard with more coffee flavor, while possibly using fewer beans? Also, would the flavor be even more intense if I were to strain the custard AFTER the cool-down period? Or do you think it would become bitter? Thank you for the great recipe!

    The whole beans will be easier to strain. Alternatively you could use instant coffee which will dissolve quickly into the cream. As to when to strain the beans, I find that the process is more simple when done as directed. But if you try it a different way, please let us know how it works out for you. ~Elise

  38. Jan

    The perfect way to begin a low key staycation. Coffee Ice Cream for breakfast! This kick off to our summer vacay required advance planning and preperation. But that’s what makes a vacation memorable. On Thursday I gathered my ingredients, and carefully followed the directions. Because David Lebovitz knows what he is doing and I didn’t feel the need to question or embellish my first try with this recipe. It was a little time intensive (Thanks for the 10 minute tip to get to a custardy consistency, I wouldn’t have had the patience if I didn’t know it could take that long.) Everyone is correct about the absurd amount of bowls you use, but that’s what dishwashers are for. Once I had my cream mixture ready I had to make myself put in into the fridge until the next evening when the churning process could begin for me. It was hard not to skip this step and go directly to churning. We got home from work and poured some wine (see first night of vacation) and began churning. Once the machine was done we let our ice-cream cure for a bit. And I must admit we both had a taste. Delicious. However, I used regular coffee beans, so that means caffeine, and I didn’t want to be up all night. So we forced ourselves to place it in a quart container. Yes, it made a full quart. Place it in the freezer and forget about it. Not easy. This morning it was Coffee Ice-Cream for breakfast, the perfect beginning to what I hope will be a relaxing and fun staycation. (It’s the first real summer we’ve had in Massachusetts for years.) So thank you Elise and David. Once again a Simply Perfect Recipe.
    Jan

  39. Gabby

    Just made this….. B&J’s?…… Pshhh. I can now make my own Coffee with Heath Bar ice cream. It was excellent in flavor. I had a slight issue with the texture as my milk separated while warming but it didn’t really affect the final product too much. Excellent recipe.

  40. Stephanie

    I seem to lack the ability to follow a recipe, but, wow, what a jumping off point. Had coffee-chocolate ice cream at an amazing restaurant over the weekend and knew I’d have to try to recreate it. This recipe was a huge help! Took a pic of my first attempt and put it on my blog.

  41. Rebekah

    Great recipe, I absolutely love the flavor!

    Question on the finely ground coffee. I’m pretty much chewing the grounds once the ice cream melts in my mouth. Is that how it should be? It may be preference… but do I just need grind the coffee more fine? OR, could I leave the ground out? Thanks!

    Sounds like they’re not finely ground enough. Grind them and then press them through a fine mesh sieve. You only need a pinch. Or just skip it. ~Elise

  42. Serena

    Elise!!! can i say it? don’t take it the wrong way but… i love you!!! yes, cause you and your site are great :) i’ve been following you silently for a while, filed your amazing recipes while i waited to be able to make them… it’s just hard to choose which one to make first
    i had been wanting to make a coffee ice cream forever, but never did, that was until a few days ago, when i finally decided that it was about time i tried this! wonderful! delicious! i had to make a few tiny adaptations, but really, what a wonderful recipe!
    btw, i also made your gingerbread house last december, the basic gingerbread dough was delicious!
    you’re so inspiring, thank you for all the great stuff you’ve been sharing with us!
    hope you don’t mind if i put the links to show you how my attempts turned out :)
    xoxo

    Sere

    coffee ice cream here http://aneres-tentarnonnuoce.blogspot.com/2011/05/coffee-addicted.html

    gingerbread house here http://aneres-tentarnonnuoce.blogspot.com/2010/12/gingerbread.html

  43. Ellen

    So I’ve attempted this recipe twice. The first time I used light cream instead of heavy, and on the second heating of the milk and bean mixture (after the infusing hour) my mixture curdled. Thinking it had curdled because I used light cream or because I put the heat too high and that either way it was ruined, I dumped the mixture and made a different flavor. I tried again today with heavy cream and lower heat and it still curdled! I caught it just as it was starting to curdle so I quickly tempered the eggs and added them back into the mixture thinking, “What do I have to lose?” And to my surprise, the curdled mixture uncurdled and thickened up beautifully. Has anyone else had this experience or know why it may have curdled both times? In case it’s relevant, I used hazelnut-flavored beans, a metal pan to heat and plastic mixing bowls for everything else. Thanks!

  44. Erin

    This was the second ice cream recipe (after chocolate) I wanted to try when I received an ice cream maker for my birthday (the cuisinart one that comes with 2 freezer bowls). It was spectacular, the beans in the cream was so beautiful and smelled so good in my house while they were steeping. The finished ice cream was so creamy and delicious! I am looking forward to trying the heath bar one. Thank you, Elise!

  45. Joy

    I would love to make this recipe for a birthday coming up shortly, just wondering how long in advance I can make it & leave it sitting in the freezer?

    I would say no more than a couple of days. Homemade ice cream just gets harder and harder every day it is left in the freezer. ~Elise

  46. Patricia Ann

    Hi Elise and family!

    Thank you 1000 times so much for this recipe! I am not a coffee drinker at all so technically, I had no coffee lying around the house (that was mine at least) let alone whole coffee beans. I ended up substituting the whole beans with about 6 tablespoons of grounded coffee instead. It was a pain in the butt straining them out since they were so grounded up so finely, but still very doable! It was all very, very, very worth it in the end.

    Funny story: I was too excited (read: impatient) that I ended up popping it in to the ice cream maker before the mixture was completed cooled. After about 45 minutes of whirring in the machine with no results, I panicked and ended up Googling my problem. Nope, no problem. I just wanted my damn coffee ice cream already since the smell was intoxicating. :P I woke up early the next morning to stick it in the machine and 15 minutes in, it started to come together! I was so undeniably excited.

    I was standing there in the kitchen scooping it into a container and right before I placed it in the freezer, I sneaked a bite and I’m not joking, my face lit up and I actually smiled. I continued to sneak a bite here and there through out the day and every time, the same giddy reaction. I am hooked!

    So much so, I just literally finished making a batch of olive oil and rosemary ice cream base, not five minutes ago. I am now waiting for it to completely chill before sticking it into the machine. I think I want to quit my day job and just make ice cream for a living.

    I don’t think I will ever go out to buy ice cream ever again. Thank you!

  47. Yoko

    Hi Elise,

    I made this the other day and it was really good, except it tasted a lot richer than other ice cream recipes by David. Did the original recipe call for 2cups milk & 1cup cream instead of 1.5cups of each?

    No, the original was one and a half cups of each. ~Elise

  48. pamela

    I made this today. decadently creamy. But it only made about 1 3/4 pints…what could have gone wrong? Used Kitchen aid ice cream attachment. Refrigerated the mix overnight…Delish though!

    That’s probably about right. 1 3/4 pints is 1/2 cup short of one quart. Some ice cream makers whip more air into the ice cream than others. ~Elise

  49. Catherine Cooper

    DAIRY FREE VERSION: Do everything the same, but use coconut milk (canned or boxed, I used a combo of both.) I found it too sweet (maybe it was the coconut milk), so before I put it in the ice cream maker, I added another cup of coconut milk and an avocado! It’s still really sweet, but such great consistency. YUMMY!

  50. Libby

    Hello! I made a double batch of this ice cream with the addition of 1 oz of bourbon to the custard. When it was almost fully churned, I drizzled in the caramel sauce (recipe from your site, cooled in the fridge) squeezed out of the corner of a baggie. It was so delicious! I used it to make ice cream sandwiches with these cookies. So good!

  51. Josh

    Best ice-cream I’ve ever had, let alone made! Not very hard, just time consuming. Works perfectly and tastes amazing! Make a double batch

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