The idea left me, well, cold. Coffee is supposed to be hot. Very, very hot.


And then, I made a serious mistake. I accepted a sample of iced coffee in a popular coffee shop. It was strong, sweet, creamy and icy, icy cold. Wow.


I needed to figure out how to make this myself — it was that good — because as much as I might want iced coffee again, I was not going to pay the outrageous price to have someone else make it for me.


One might think, as I did, that pouring hot coffee over ice and adding milk and sugar would do the trick. Not exactly. Not even close.


The problem is that the ice seriously dilutes the coffee. This dilemma sent me in search of the secret for why the sample was not at all diluted. That's when I discovered that Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, is quite an iced coffee aficionado and quite willing to share her secrets.


Make Cold Brew


First, you must make a big batch of very strong cold brew coffee concentrate. This is the secret. You'll need a large container, ground coffee and water. And time — at least eight hours (exact recipe and instructions below).


Cold-brew coffee is not just coffee served cold. The thing that makes it cold-brew coffee is that the brewing process itself happens without heat. Instead of steeping the grounds in hot water, you steep them in cold water for a lot longer.


And while you can make as little as 1 cup of cold brew concentrate at a time, why would you? I'd rather make 2 gallons at a time because it keeps well for up to six weeks in the refrigerator.


Now You’re Ready


Once you have that beautiful concentrate locked and loaded, it's time to make one or a number of tall, beautiful, lovely iced coffees! You'll need ice, coffee concentrate and your choice of milk, cream and/or sugar. Or just drink it black. It will be nonacidic and not the least bit bitter.


And there you have it: Icy-cold, undiluted, perfect iced coffee!


Ingredients For Two Gallons Coffee Concentrate:


• 1 pound ground coffee


• 8 quarts filtered or bottled cold water (32 cups)


Ingredients For a Single-Serve Iced Coffee:


• 1 1/2 cups ice


• 8 ounces cold-brew coffee concentrate


• 2 to 4 ounces milk or cream, or to taste


• 2 teaspoons sugar, or to taste


To make proper coffee concentrate:


Dump 1 pound of ground coffee into a very large container. Any brand of ground coffee will do, but you'll be super happy if you start with something dark, rich and freshly roasted.


Now pour in 8 quarts (2 gallons) of cold water. The water you use is important: If your tap water is highly chlorinated (taste and smell it to discover this; if it tastes good to you, use tap water here), opt for bottled or filtered water.


Stir with a wooden spoon until all of the dry coffee is wet. Cover. Allow to steep at room temperature for at least 8 hours; longer is just fine.


Line a large sieve or colander with several layers of cheesecloth, and pour the steeped coffee grounds through it. You'll need to prod it a bit to get all of that coffee perfectly sieved, but stick with it. You'll end up with just shy of 8 quarts of rich, dark coffee concentrate that will be void of bitterness and very low in acidity.


Discard the coffee dregs; tightly cover the concentrate, and place it in the refrigerator.


Start Small


Not ready to commit to nearly 2 gallons of coffee concentrate? No problem. Scale down the proportions: 2 tablespoons of ground coffee for each cup of cold water


To Make a Tall, Cold, Wonderful Glass of Perfect Iced Coffee


Fill a 12-ounce glass — or a one-quart canning jar — with ice.


Pour very cold coffee concentrate over the ice until the glass or jar is about three-quarters full.


Add your choice of milk or cream.


Add the amount of sugar you need to make it as sweet as you desire. Stir to mix.


Remember, the coffee concentrate will keep well in the refrigerator up to six weeks, provided it is kept tightly covered. Enjoy!


Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com and author of "Debt-Proof Living." Questions, comments and tips can be sent on her website.