If you’ve never met my mother or me, chances are you’ve probably not really had a proper Sri Lankan Iced Coffee.

Before writing this post, I scoured the worldwide net just to see what are the iced coffee recipes out there. I was actually very surprised to find that none of the recipes truly reflected the true beauty of the Sri Lankan ice coffee.

Strong coffee combined together with a heady mix of spices and enhanced with a good splash of brandy – this for me is what the Sri Lankan Iced Coffee is. The rich, creamy liquid is fragrant and potent and one can smell the brew from miles away. I remember the familiar aroma of cardamom and clove mingling with the intense coffee fumes coursing their way through the house and teasing our nostrils, instantly raising our heartbeats with the promise of fiery intense sips of Sri Lankan goodness brewed to perfection. It smelled like love, it smelled like home – the passionate, colorful love that growing up in Sri Lanka was all about.

The Sri Lankan Iced coffee is the coffee that your mother and probably even your great grandmother warned you about. It hooks you on and takes you for a spin, leaving you all giddy and excited but still game for more.

This is basically your Sri Lankan eggnog sans the eggs and sans a specific season to have it.

How exciting!

Now, there are 3 ways of making Sri Lankan ice coffee – the traditional way, the healthy way and the easy way. And I’m going to give you all three.

The nose simply laps up the aroma. Its smell reminds of the base notes of a sophisticated perfume while the tongue seeks for it, restless. It truly is a relief when the silky liquid drapes the tongue like a velvet shawl – seductive and intense. And through the velvet of the milk comes the pungency of the cardamom, blowing like an oriental summer breeze, a warmth pregnant with possibilities. And suddenly the clove slashes through it like a sword, and paints the edges a cool mottled green – the warmt from the cardamom meeting the coolness of the clove on a dagger point. Then the brandy sashays in – honeyed notes coloring the senses gold, intoxicating, sending the taste buds on a spiral of happiness.

Ah such exquisite happiness.

So the above is the “traditional method” of making Sri Lankan ice coffee. When I make it on warm Sunday mornings when all of us are at that lethargic hour between breakfast and lunch, a little fazed by the perpetual heat, this is the method that I use.

The Healthy Sri Lankan Iced coffee

  • 1L Fresh Milk
  • 1 cup Water
  • 5 tblsps, ground Coffee
  • 8, crushed Cardamoms
  • 8 Cloves
  • Sugar to taste
  • A splash (Optional) Brandy


  1. Boil 250 ml and 1 cup water with the coffee, cardamom and the cinnamon. Bring to boil and simmer on low heat for 10 minutes. Take off heat and let the spices seep while the mixture cools.
  2. Once cool, strain the mixture into a large jug or a container to get rid of the spice residue. Add in the vanilla and the sugar. Mix well.
  3. Add in splash of brandy if using. Serve chilled.

What this method produces is healthy and refreshing. Fresh milk combined with real coffee and precious spices. It tastes exactly like the condensed milk one (if not better) and is better for you too.

Now the easy Sri Lankan iced coffee.

Here there will be no boiling. Simply, throw all the things together in a blender et voila! Your iced coffee us served!

How to make the Easy Version of the Sri Lankan iced coffee


  • 1L, cold Water
  • 1tsp Vanilla
  • 500g Condensed Milk
  • 3 tblps Instant coffee


  1. Simply throw everything in a blender and give it a good whiz.
  2. Chill and serve!

Yes that’s it! This however, does miss that much cherished hit of spices that the traditional version has. However, the splash of brandy is still an option here but that sophisticated play between the spices and the brandy will be much missed here. And if I am not mistaken, this version is the most available version of the Sri Lankan ice coffee here (mostly due to the ease of making) and while not bad, is not the real deal.

Useful tips

  • Good coffee. Use the real deal not the crappy instant type. You deserve it.
  • You can try add some cinnamon but that would alter the case significantly. And the rest of the flavors will simply snuff the cinnamon out.
  • If I am to recommend one, I’d recommend the fresh milk version. Whilst being healthy, it allows you to control the sweetness of the drink which is a lxury one doesn’t get with condensed milk.