Can I Get an Iced Coffee? My Yearlong search for cold drinks in the UK.

In my mind, there is no greater pleasure than a big ole icey drink (green tea, black coffee, or a chai tea latte if I’m feeling indulgent). I recently found this article, reminding me of one of my funny little struggles in the UK: the year-long search for decent iced coffee.

It probably has something to do with the fact that the temperature where I live rarely reaches 70 degrees Fahrenheit. It may also have something to do with the local obsession with hot cups of tea. Whatever the reason, icey cold drinks never really caught on in the UK (except as a fad amongst the rich and famous during victorian times).

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The first time I ordered an iced coffee in the UK was at Mcdonalds. Black iced coffee from MickeyDs is my one fo my favorite American drinks (fairly good quality and CHEAP CHEAP), so I walked boldly up to the counter and asked:

“Could I get an iced coffee please?”

After giving me a rather longish blankish stare, the attendant responded:

“You want ice in your coffee?…”

“Yes, please.”

“How many ice cubes do you want in it?”

“No, not like that”. I scanned the menu and noted that iced coffee was nowhere to be seen. Still, I figured I was beyond the point of no return (and I still really really wanted a cold coffee), so I plowed onward. “Could you fill the whole cup with ice and just pour the coffee over it?”

In my head it all made sense, but the attendant seemed puzzled (to say the least). Five minutes later I received a hot cup of joe with four or five ice cubes floating inside.

As I sipped my luke-warm coffee I decided to laugh and chalk it up as one for experience.

Since then I’ve wondered if it would be a worthwhile endeavor to start a scrapbook to keepsake the flabbergasted and puzzled looks I receive as I continue to order ice coffees across the UK. I’ve learned that a few select places will make them! Costa does a weak coffee half diluted by melted ice and Starbucks sells a decent cold brew for an unholy price.

So you see, if at first you don’t succeed, try try again. Well… to a point. Iced tea is a food group where I come from. As much as I miss it, I still haven’t dared attempt an order. Why? I guess I’m a little scared it could lead to deportation. One does not mess with British tea.

Note: I should note that while I do like to laugh at my silly American troubles, I have genuinely learned to love hot drinks, particularly a classic cup of tea. I think it is important to at least semi-immerse yourself in the eating and drinking customs of the countries you visit (taking personal health constraints into account of course). Moving to the UK, I have learned to appreciate the art of tea and have begun to drink hot tea regularly (more than coffee!). While I still suffer from occasional iced coffee/tea  withdrawals, I am a genuine convert to hot tea and I’m rather proud of that fact : )

What are your thoughts on food differences in culture? Is it important to eat what the locals eat? Or do you stick to your personal culinary habits when you travel? 

Author: Susanna

I'm Susanna, a 20-year-old Christian girl incorrigibly addicted spontaneous adventures. My first dream was to become a pioneer. Unfortunately, I was born a couple centuries late, so I've decided to read, cook, run, and travel the world until my time machine is finished. You'll mostly likely find me getting into trouble and/or eating licorice. I am currently blogging the misadventures of a middle-school teacher in training. Come join me on my quest to become the next Ms. Frizzle!

9 thoughts on “Can I Get an Iced Coffee? My Yearlong search for cold drinks in the UK.”

  1. I actually lived in Spain for 2 years and encountered the same problem! (And it was so hot there !!) although there was iced coffee in places like Starbucks and costa coffee , it was not a common thing. If you went into a cafe and ordered one, they would give you a cup with one giant ice cube and a steaming hot cup of coffee…. While at first it bothered me, slowly I got used to drinking s hot cup of coffee in 90 degree weather

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is so interesting! I always associated lack of ice to the weather in Wales, but apparently it is more of a historical/cultural thing. The American ice industry began booming thanks to certain entrepreneurs in the 18th-19th centuries I believe, never caught on as much outside the US. Interesting how businesses can affect culture so much!

      Liked by 1 person

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