Coffee Ice Cream

coffee ice cream

I sprained my foot last week. I wish I had a great story to go along with my swollen foot, but the truth is that I was walking Cookie past down next-door neighbor’s sidewalk and the next thing I knew, I was on all fours in the mud. It was not my finest moment, but it was far from a foreign moment—I’m an accident-prone kid and have plenty of scars and silly stories to prove it. I pulled myself back together and hobbled back up my stairs.

cream for jeni's coffee ice cream recipe

As I was hopping one-footed around my apartment (I’m sure my downstairs neighbor wondered when Tigger moved in), I got to thinking about mobility—how critical it is to my life, how easy and natural it is to take it for granted, and how much I want to take care of myself so I can maintain it. I always try to strike a balance between keeping my body healthy and in fighting shape, and enjoying life’s little pleasures, like a scoop of full-fat ice cream. I believe it can be done.

jeni's coffee ice cream recipe

I’ve also been thinking about ice cream and the generally accepted assumption that it’s “bad”. Bad because it’s composed of cream, milk, sugar and if you’re buying it in a carton, probably ten other ingredients that aren’t so easily pronounced. I’m tired of this way of thinking about food—that some foods are bad and we should feel guilty after eating them, and others are good, and assumed bland and unsatisfying. No! Foods range a full spectrum from better to worse, and quality of ingredients and portion size are major factors that are too often ignored. Single servings of ice cream are not the problem, but regular consumption of a large milkshake with a burger and fries will lead to problems.

Furthermore, I suspect that this black-and-white way of thinking (that foods are either bad or good) contributes to our difficulties in making healthy eating choices. If we’re feeling guilty for eating something bad, we might as well give up, right? But if we accept that we ate something less healthy earlier in the day, we can make up for it by eating something more healthy later on in the day. It’s that simple.

homemade coffee ice cream mixture

Enough ranting: this homemade ice cream is for savoring. Once I got my hands on Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home, I had a terrible time decided which flavor to make first. Roasted Strawberry and Buttermilk? Lime Cardamom Frozen Yogurt? The Milkiest Chocolate Ice Cream in the World?! The black coffee ice cream recipe lingered on my mind because I had some incredible Camp 4 Coffee organic French roast left over from my trip to Crested Butte. I decided black coffee ice cream would be my first ice cream recipe of the year.

how to make jeni's coffee ice cream recipe

Thanks to Jeni’s incredible, eggless technique, this ice cream turned out astonishingly creamy and the rich coffee-infused flavor is almost caramel-like. The time and effort I put into this ice cream may have made it taste that much sweeter, but I’m being 100% serious when I say it’s the best coffee ice cream I’ve had in my life.

homemade coffee ice cream recipe

I served up one scoop at a time in my grandmother Mimi‘s little bowls and used her little ice cream spoons to savor every single bite. My grandmother’s generation started off with the right proportions—smaller bowls and plates, 6 ounce bottles of Coke that were a real treat, and so forth. My grandmother played golf with her lady friends until she was 80 and lived to 90. She had a soft spot for shortbread, chocolate and pecans. Mimi found the balance I strive for, and she lived well.

scoop of jeni's coffee ice cream

Coffee Ice Cream
Recipe type: Dessert
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons corn starch (or tapioca starch)
  • 3 tablespoons (1½ ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ¾ cup turbinado (raw) sugar
  • 3 tablespoons agave nectar
  • ¼ cup dark-roast coffee beans, coarsely ground
  1. In a small bowl, mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the corn starch to make a smooth slurry.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the cream cheese and salt until very smooth.
  3. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.
  4. Combine the remaining milk, cream, sugar and agave nectar in a 4-quart saucepan. Bring the mixture to a slow boil over medium heat and boil for four minutes. Remove from heat, add coffee grounds and let it seep for 5 minutes.
  5. Strain the milk mixture through a sieve lined with a layer or cheesecloth. (Or do as I did and strain it through a paint straining bag, which I also use to make nut milks. They’re only a couple of dollars at hardware stores.)
  6. Squeeze the coffee in the cheesecloth or paint strainer to extract as much liquid as possible, and then discard the grounds.
  7. Return the cream mixture to the saucepan and gradually whisk in the corn starch slurry. Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until slightly thickened (about 1 minute).
  8. Remove from heat.
  9. Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold (about 30 minutes).
  10. Following your manufacturer’s instructions, pour the cold ice cream base into the frozen canister of your ice cream maker. Place your glass storage container in the freezer so it can get cold (that way the ice cream won’t melt on contact). Spin until thick and creamy.
  11. Pack the ice cream into your cold storage container, press a sheet of parchment paper directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm (at least 4 hours).
  • Slightly adapted from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home.
  • Yields about 1 quart.
  • The original recipe called for 2½ cups whole milk and 1½ cups heavy cream, but I only had 1 cup of cream and added more milk to make up the difference. I also traded agave nectar for the original recipe's light corn syrup. My ice cream ended up super creamy and had less fat than the original.
  • If you're in the market for an ice cream maker, this one has been very good to me. I also love these heavy-duty glass storage containers.


  1. says

    I about licked my computer screen- this looks amazing! I didn’t realize when you said you fell and were a clutz that you sprained something! Hopefully you heal soon!

  2. says

    You are absolutely right…it’s all about eating the “bad” stuff the “right” way — quality ingredients, smaller proportions and in moderation. And I agree, putting the work into making the good/bad stuff yourself makes you appreciate it all the more!!! Recipe saved.

  3. says

    This is my all time favorite ice cream. Any time I visit one of Jeni’s shops I always get it. I tried my hand at making it and wasn’t as successful as you. But that’s what a broken freezer gets you I guess :D

    • says

      That’s awesome that you’ve tried Jeni’s actual coffee ice cream! I’d like to do a taste comparison. I’m sorry your freezer caused you trouble, I hope you’ll try again if you get it fixed!

  4. says

    First of all, I am sorry about your ankle… I get those weird little injuries every now and then at the most unfortunate times and get so frustrated.
    Second, I love your rant because I have the same philosophy with food. The only problem is, even though I eat small portions of bad stuff every now and then, I still can’t help feeling guilty.
    Lastly, I love your ice cream and would want to make homemade ice cream myself, however, is it possible without an ice cream maker?

  5. says

    Thank you so much for sharing this – I am always looking at Jeni’s ice creams online but hadn’t actually purchased any yet because they are a bit pricey for me. But, oh how I love ice cream! I didn’t know she had a book of recipes though and I just added it to my wish list on pinterest – thanks again!

    • says

      Funny, I didn’t realize you could order Jeni’s ice creams online! If you like to make ice cream, you should definitely get the book!

  6. says

    I don’t have an ice cream maker but recipes like this make me wish I did. I would much prefer to eat this than the 25 ingredient peanut butter pandemonium from the local ice cream shop that’s in my freezer right now. And I couldn’t agree with your little rant more ;) Amen.

  7. says

    I have found that when I cook/bake/make the food that is usually considered “bad”, I can’t really think of it in that term. I only put good ingredients in it, I made it with love, and it took some time to make it, how could it then be bad? I enjoyed reading your insights, and I would love to have a scoop of this coffee ice cream right now.

  8. says

    Aw, I hope your foot feels better soon! Your ice cream looks fantastic! I’ve been craving coffee flavored things even though I don’t drink coffee often. This is perfect :) I completely agree with what you said about labeling food as either “good” or “bad”. It’s not about eating all “good” it’s about balance, and there is definitely room for good quality ice cream in eating a healthy balanced diet :D

  9. says

    Kate, I hope your ankle is on the mend. It really is awful to loose the mobility we so take for granted.
    And I was really diggin’ what you were writing about “good” and “bad” foods.. I try so hard to stay with moderation and to teach it to my kiddos. Heavily processed food are pretty darned bad, but a nice beautiful rich handmade coffee ice cream like yours… that’s gotta be good.

    • says

      Thank you, Erin. It sounds like you’re doing a wonderful job teaching moderation and encouraging an appreciation for quality food to your kids. My brothers and I were picky eaters, and my mom didn’t pay as close attention to ingredient labels as I do now, but she set a great example for eating in moderation. I’m so thankful for that.

  10. says

    Coffee is my favorite ice cream and also my husband’s. I do not have an ice cream maker, but I will forward this recipe to my sister so she can make me this ice cream. Sounds delicious. I agree with you ice cream should not be in the bad food list, we just have to eat in European portions not American portions!!

  11. says

    I hope you are feeling better. That ice cream would make great medicine ;) It looks so delicious. I love ice cream so much and love when I have a healthier way to eat it. I’m going to try this.

  12. says

    sorry for the injury…i feel your pain! I own 2 pair of crutches myself – NOT fun!
    The ice cream sounds amazing and cant wait to make if for my ice-cream-loving-coffee-snob husband!!

  13. says

    I couldn’t agree with you more – food should never be about guilt and when you know exactly what’s going into your ice cream (not a store bought version with lots of preservatives etc), a little of what you fancy really does you good.

    Jeni’s ice cream book is incredible – make sure you try the rhubarb recipe, and also the peanut butter ice cream – incredible!

  14. says

    iIm with sylvie… ice cream has magic healing powers. Should I be embarrassed that I’m actually not familiar with Jeni’s splendid ice creams? Sounds like she knows what’s up. I used to work at ben and jerry’s in high school and they had a flavor called “coffee coffee buzz buzz buzz!” I can’t look at any, sort of coffee ice cream/yogurt without yelling it super fast. Try it. It will make you smile, and Cookie will probably dance about :)

    • says

      Ha! That’s silly. I hadn’t heard of Jeni’s ice cream until I saw the book (apparently she’s a big deal in Ohio) but she totally knows what’s up. Shaun loves making ice cream, right? He needs her book.

  15. says

    My sister & I just made the darkest chocolate ice cream from Jeni’s book and it was the best I ever had. We plan on making more in the future. Hopy your ankle heals quickly, as I know that pain as I am also accident prone. Thanks for sharing.

    • says

      The darkest chocolate ice cream is definitely high on my list to try… I want to make every one of Jeni’s flavors. It’s so hard to pick just one!

  16. Maggie says

    I couldn’t agree more with your philosophy on food. I believe if you are craving something, you should eat it in moderation! If you eat quality, delicious tasting food, even if it may be “bad for you,” we will end up eating less in the long run because you ate what you were actually craving, and not subsituting for artifically flavored, genetically engineered food that doesn’t satisfy you.

    I had a question about the recipe-in step 4, are you supposed to bring the mixture to a boil before removing it from the heat?

    Thanks so much for your posts. Your blog fuels my passion for food and cooking.

    • says

      Hi Maggie! I’m sorry I didn’t respond to your question sooner, I was out of town all weekend. Yes, you’re right, you are supposed to bring the mixture to a boil before removing it from heat! I just corrected the recipe. I can’t believe that part was missing this whole time. Thank you for commenting, and I’m glad we share the same food philosophy!

  17. Autumn says

    My Dad’s favorite ice cream flavor is coffee and it’s one of my favs as well! So I made this for Father’s Day this past weekend and he was so happy for a unique yummy gift! :) It turned out DELISH! …. and I did it WITHOUT an ice cream maker! I just finished it in a food processor instead and it was still great! Not the creamiest texture, more gelato like but still amazing! :)

    • says

      That’s great, Autumn! My dad loves coffee ice cream, too. I wish I’d thought to make him some! I love gelato and I’m glad to know that you can make this recipe in a food processor. Thanks for commenting!

  18. Trina says

    Interesting. I have made the coffee ice cream from her book as well, and it’s the only disappointment I’ve had from her book so far. It just wasn’t intensely flavored enough, especially when compared with her dark chocolate or salted caramel. Since yours turned out so well, I might give it another go though! I plan to try the Leibovitz version first though :). I LOVE your healthier alterations, if I do make this again I’m coming back to your site!

  19. Linda B says

    Just put this recipe in the freezer. I CAN NOT IMAGINE ANY BETTER TASTING ICE CREAM!!!! OMG!!! It is so good! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! :)

  20. says

    I just got an ice cream maker attachment to my mixer and I’m look for the perfect coffee ice cream recipe to make for when my grandmother (who I also call Mimi!) comes to visit this week. This one looks perfect and delicious!

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