Judging Java: The McDonald’s Soft Serve and Iced Coffee Life Hack

Written By Jake Dabkowski, Coffee Columnist

3.5 Globes

Recently, I was on a viral short-form video sharing app TikTok and saw a new trend: people ordering an iced coffee and soft serve vanilla ice cream from McDonald’s and then dunking the soft serve into the coffee. So, in the effort of keeping with the times and blending in with the cool kids, this week I did just that. And it was pretty dang good.

The concept of a secret menu dates back to the 1970s. The term first started being used by In-N-Out Burgers, because In-N-Out at the time never actually named their burger variations. Now, the term is much more blanket, and gained most of its prominence from Starbucks in the mid-2000s, when Starbucks began training employees on how to make cotton candy frappuccinos. The concept clashed with Starbucks’ branding, which was at the time to appear like a sophisticated coffee chain, so utilizing the secret menu enabled them to attract a younger market without having to change their branding.

Now, the secret menu has become a lot less of a secret. McDonald’s recently even started showing some of their “secret menu” options on their actual menu, although this ice cream coffee hack is not listed. Something that actually is listed: the Land, Air, and Sea, which is a McChicken, a Big Mac, and a Filet of Fish stacked on top of each other. Let’s be honest, if you hear that and think “that sounds pretty good,” you should probably go to a doctor.

The iced coffee soft serve combo is delicious, specifically because McDonald’s coffee is not very good. I previously said that it “is an absolute slog to get through,” compared it to the song Driver’s License (a song that I hate) and ended my review saying that it “is proof that late-stage consumer capitalism has failed us.” So I was very surprised to discover that this mix is great.

This is, as far as coffee is concerned, kind of hard to explain. It’s something that you just sort of have to experience for yourself. The soft serve slowly blends into the iced coffee, which in turn mixes back into the soft serve. I’d recommend giving this a try yourself, because it really is something unique.

Another great thing about this is the cost. A lot of coffee shops charge a lot of money for flavored coffee drinks, but altogether this cost me only a little more than $2. Granted, it’s McDonald’s, but still, this is an affordable and great drink, especially for college aged kids on a budget.

That being said, there are a few issues with this life hack. The biggest one is that, because of how liquids work, the second you put the soft serve in the coffee, it will overflow. You can quickly drink some, but that will no doubt be a miserable experience because McDonald’s coffee is, like I said, a slog to get through. I personally recommend doing what I did, which is finding a sewer grate to dump some in (there’s one conveniently located outside of the Wood Street McDonald’s).

The second issue you may run into is drinking the coffee too fast. It is critically important to let this sit. Stir the soft serve around every once in a while, but you have to be patient. Do not attempt this life hack if you have somewhere to be, especially because you won’t have a lid. This is a life hack for people with a lot of time on their hands.

The third issue is that it is currently very, very cold out, and this drink is very, very cold. It is literally mixing soft serve ice cream and iced coffee. I recommend waiting for a warm day to snag one of these.