In the Kitchen

In the summer, I drink my coffee almost exclusively iced. I stick the whole brewed pot in the fridge and mix in sugar and milk on a cup-by-cup basis. But why doesn’t granulated sugar dissolve well in my iced coffee? Just remember back to chemistry and physics: slower-moving molecules in the cold liquid don’t bounce around and react with the sugar as quickly or as energetically as in a hot cup o’ joe. I’m going to show you how to exploit this principle in the opposite direction. By combining heated water with an equal quantity of sugar, a concentrated solution is formed that holds true upon cooling. This new liquid substance has all the same sweetness of granulated sugar, but will mix easily into ice coffees and teas. Read on to make your own simple syrup.



1/2 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar


Step 1: Combine sugar and water in a small heavy-bottomed sauce pan over medium heat.


Step 2: Stir the mixture until all the sugar is dissolved. Don’t let it get hot enough to boil, and remove from heat promptly. Let the solution cool to room temperature.


Step 3: Use a funnel to transfer the syrup to a bottle for convenient dispensing. Mine’s brown because I used unrefined sugar, but yours might be clear.


Step 4: Add to your drinks to taste. Store it in the fridge.

Becky Stern

Becky Stern

Becky Stern ( is a DIY guru and director of wearable electronics at Adafruit. She publishes a new project video every week and hosts a live show on YouTube. Formerly Becky was Senior Video Producer for MAKE. Becky lives in Brooklyn, NY and belongs to art groups Free Art & Technology (“release early, often, and with rap music”) and Madagascar Institute (“fear is never boring”).


    You can also use the microwave–I put hot tap water in a microwaveable measuring cup, then add sugar, stir, heat for a couple of minutes, stir, and repeat if needed.

  • Becky Stern