If you’re like most coffee drinkers, you probably enjoy a cold glass of iced coffee during the hot summer months. But what is the difference between cold brew and iced coffee? And is one better than the other?
Iced coffee is made by brewing hot coffee and then pouring it over ice. Cold brew is made by steeping ground coffee in cold water for an extended period, usually 12-24 hours. The result is a smooth, less acidic beverage.
What is the difference between cold brew and iced coffee?
Simply put, iced coffee refers to any coffee that is served over ice. It doesn’t matter what brewing method you used, as long it’s served over ice, it will be considered iced coffee.
What is the difference between cold brew and iced coffee? The actual brewing process is what makes the difference.
Iced coffee is brewed from hot coffee, just like we know how to brew coffee. Cold brew coffee is cold coffee, as the name suggests.
The flavor also makes iced coffee different from a cold brew.
Cold brew coffee is much more flavorful than regular coffee. It has less acidity and bitterness.
The acidity is created when you brew coffee hot. When hot coffee is brewed, the hot water extracts the oils of the coffee beans.
Cold brew coffee is made without hot water and has very low acidity.
How to make iced coffee at home
Making iced coffee is as easy as pouring regular coffee over ice.
Any coffee grounds and any brewing method can be used. You can make a pot with drip coffee in a coffeemaker, a French press, or instant coffee.
Making your coffee is easy. However, there is an important tip you should remember.
Coffee that has not been cooled before pouring over ice will taste watery.
Think about it: If you pour a hot cup of coffee over ice, the water will immediately melt. Even if you have brewed the perfect cup, the coffee will be very diluted by the melted ice. There are two options here.
- Let the coffee cool completely before you serve it.
- Make your coffee stronger.
There’s a good chance that the coffee you get when you order iced coffee at a coffee shop is not fresh. Many coffee shops will save leftover coffee and store it in the refrigerator until they are ready to serve their iced coffee the next day.
Although it is not fair to assume all coffee shops do this, it is not uncommon! Keep that in mind if you are looking for fresh coffee.
You can also buy ready-to-drink iced tea if you don’t feel like making your own coffee.
Jot is a super-concentrated coffee you can either drink hot or with ice. It tastes very similar to cold-brew coffee.
What is cold-brew coffee?
Cold brew coffee is more than a trend. It’s one of the best ways to make cold coffee drinks.
Cold brew is made by steeping coarsely ground beans in water for 12-24 hours. The coffee is slowly steeped, either at room temperature or in the refrigerator. This produces a different taste than hot coffee.
The coffee concentrate is the most common base for cold brews. Concentrated coffee can be stored in the fridge more easily without taking up too much space.
With a coffee concentrate, you simply pour it into a cup. Then, add water or milk at a 1:2 ratio of coffee to water.
The beauty of it all is that you can control how strong your cup tastes! You can adjust the strength of the concentrate to suit your preference.
How to make cold-brew coffee at home
Cold-brew is easy to make! Although there is special equipment that can be purchased to make it easier, the process of making cold brew at your home is very simple.
Here is a cold brew recipe that you can make at home using only a pitcher and a bowl.
- To make a pitcher, add 10 ounces (about 285g) of coarse ground coffee. NOTE: Regular ground coffee can also be used. Coarser coffee will yield the best results and make it easier to strain the coffee grounds. However, any coffee will work.
- Pour 5 cups of cold water into the coffee grounds. You can use less coffee than you need to start with. Just keep the same ratio of 1/2 cup filtered water for every ounce of ground coffee.
- Let the coffee sit at room temperature for 16 hours. The coffee will taste better if it is brewed at room temperature. It will also produce a stronger, more flavorful coffee. It is possible to make great coffee for anywhere between 12-24 hours but 16 hours is better.
- Strain the coffee through a fine-mesh sieve and into a bowl. Rinse the pitcher and pour the coffee back into it. Then, repeat the process one more time. To ensure that no grounds are left in your coffee, you can use a cheesecloth or coffee filter if your coffee was too finely ground.
- Pour the cold-brew concentrate into a jar or container. You should have a 3-cup yield of cold brew concentrate. To keep it cold, put it in the fridge.
- When preparing to serve, you should use a 2:1 ratio of water to coffee. For the perfect cup of cold brew coffee, pour 1/3 cup (roughly 2.5 ounces) coffee concentrate over ice. Then pour 2/3 cup water over it.
Cold-brew coffee vs iced coffee: Which has more caffeine?
Cold-brew generally has more caffeine content than traditional iced coffee. But that is not always the case. Comparing equal-sized coffee shop portions would reveal vastly different caffeine levels.
Just comparing Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks coffees gives you a completely different picture.
A medium iced coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts will give you 297mg of caffeine, while a medium cold brew will give you 260mg.
A grande iced coffee from Starbucks has only 165mg of caffeine while a cold brew has 205mg.
The cold brew will have more caffeine content than iced coffee. This is because the ratio between coffee and water is much higher, while iced coffee is more diluted.
Despite this, the final product might not be as strong. Remember how we said that cold brew starts as a concentrate?
This concentrate contains a lot of caffeine. It may be 3x more than hot coffee. However, we add water or milk before we serve it. The strength of the coffee will depend on how much liquid was added.
Is cold brew coffee more expensive than iced coffee?
Cold-brew can be expensive. Why pay $5 for a cold brew when you could get regular hot coffee for only $2?
You can make hot coffee in minutes. It doesn’t take long to prepare.
Cold-brew requires more beans to make and takes 12-24 hours to brew.
Cold-brew is more expensive because of the combination of labor, time, and coffee beans but it is well worth it. It makes sense that cold brew is more costly, but why is iced coffee more expensive than regular brewed coffee. It’s just hot coffee poured over ice, right?
Iced coffee is a scam. It’s one of those unavoidable things in life that we must accept.
Pro tip: Order a regular cup of hot coffee and ask for ice. After letting the coffee cool, pour it over the ice to make a cheaper iced coffee.
Cold-brew coffee vs. iced coffee: Which lasts longer?
Cold-brew is great for keeping in the fridge for up to two weeks. It’s also a space-saver if you make it as concentrate.
Iced coffee tastes best the day it is brewed. However, you can keep it in the fridge for up to a day.
It may taste a little sour after the first day. You’ll be able to tell the difference if you’ve ever tried making your batch from old or cheap coffee grounds.
Coffee shops often use day-old coffee to make their iced coffee. You won’t notice much difference. However, if you wait more than a day, you will be pushing your luck.
A simple batch of cold-brewed coffee is all you need to enjoy coffee throughout the week.
Can you serve cold-brew or iced coffee hot?
Cold-brew coffee can be heated up, which is a little trick that not many people know.
Take a cup of cold-brewed coffee (not concentrate) and heat it in the microwave or stovetop. You’ll get the best cup ever!
If you don’t like the acidity of coffee but still want a hot cup, you can heat some cold brew to make a smooth, acid-free cup of coffee. This is one of the best ways to enjoy hot coffee.
Iced coffee can be served hot too. But it is essentially reversing the original reason that it was iced.
Iced coffee is essentially brewed coffee with ice. If you want hot coffee, go order a regular brew instead.
So, what is the difference between cold brew and iced coffee? Iced coffee tends to be more bitter and acidic than cold brew, which is why many people prefer it with added milk or sweetener. On the other hand, cold brew is smoother and less acidic, making it a great choice for those who don’t enjoy strong coffee flavors.