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What is the Difference Between Iced Coffee and Cold Brew?

what is the difference between iced coffee and cold brew

Iced Coffee vs. Cold Brew

Coffee lovers rejoice! There are a number of different cold brew coffee options that you can choose from. Cold brew is cold-brewed coffee that is served cold, and there are several cold brew types to choose from. If iced coffee is your drink of choice, then this article will help you understand the differences between cold brews and iced coffee.

So, what is the difference between iced coffee and cold brew? At a very basic level, iced coffee is brewed hot and then poured over ice. Cold brew, on the other hand, is never heated. This leaves a stronger flavor and higher caffeine content as it is not watered down with melted ice.

Keep reading to learn more about two of the most popular types of coffee!

What is Iced Coffee?

Iced coffee is when hot-brewed or drip/espresso-brewed roasted beans are poured over ice cubes and chilled before serving.

Iced coffee has been around for ages: it was first introduced in Japan during the 1960s and made its way to the United States shortly thereafter. Iced coffee became so popular in certain areas because many restaurants did not offer air conditioning, so cold beverages were very popular.

what is the difference between iced coffee and cold brew

How to Make Iced Coffee

Brew up your favorite recipe, but hold off on adding any milk or sugar so it will be easier to mix with ice. Let the drink cool on its own instead of putting it in the fridge (this might sound weird, but it helps keep your kitchen from getting too cold).

Once your coffee gets to room temperature, add 3/4 of a cup of ice and stir until everything is dissolved. Fill up two glasses with ice and pour half of your iced coffee into each glass (if you still have space left over after filling up both glasses, make another cup of iced coffee using the same recipe).

Don’t be afraid to experiment with your ice cube ratios until you find what results in the perfect beverage that isn’t watered down.

Another good tip is to only chill the cream or milk that you will be mixing into your drink instead of chilling the entire mixture before you serve it – this way, your iced coffee won’t end up tasting like a milkshake!

You can also add different flavors to change up your frozen beverages. Some people like adding creme de menthe and chocolate syrup (like in a mudslide) or Kahlua and bitters (to make an Irish coffee). But remember: there’s no right way to make iced coffee, so experiment and find out what you like best!

Cold Brew: American-Made Classic?

The cold coffee brewing process began in Japan. However, cold-brewed coffee originated in the US during the 1970s when it gained popularity among New Yorkers who wanted cold drinks on hot summer days.

Iced coffee is also referred to as iced cafe au lait, which can be made by adding cold milk instead of cold water to your cold-brewed beans before chilling them.

There are some different ways to make cold brew, but the grind and ph level are two things that can affect how your coffee tastes.

It is also important to know what grind to use as well as the ph level because you don’t want really fine grinds or coarse grinds. If you have coarse grinds then it will be harder for water to pass through the grinds, which means it won’t be able to extract all of the flavors from them.

what is the difference between iced coffee and cold brew

How to Make Cold Brew

The grind should resemble kosher salt or sea salt size pieces. You should not see any grinds bigger than a grain of rice. If you use grinds that are smaller than grains of rice then this may result in under extraction, which means less flavor overall.

Just make sure that the grinds are uniform in size to ensure even extraction. You can use a burr grinder or a blade grinder. If you use a blade grinder then grind for about two seconds at a time, shake it up, and grind again until you have achieved your desired grind level.

When it comes to ph levels, ideally coffee should have a ph level of 7-8+. This is because water with a ph lower than 7 will be acidic, which will influence how the coffee tastes.

Water with a ph over 8+ will actually strip oils from the grinds, causing them to produce bad-tasting coffee as well. It is best if you have filtered or spring water so that there isn’t any extra stuff in it already when you add it to the grinds.

The Importance of Filtered Water

It is important to have filtered water because when water passes through the grinds, the grinds will not be able to filter out any extra stuff in the water if there is a lot of stuff in it already. Every grind has pores and grinds are going to be absorbing whatever goes through them, which can make your coffee taste worse.

You should make sure that your grind size and ph level are correct because both will play a huge role in how your cold brew turns out. If you don’t measure correctly then that can affect all of this as well.

Now it’s time to experiment and find out what grind size and ph level works best for your cold brew coffees!

Iced Coffee vs. Cold Brew Coffee

So what’s the difference between iced coffee and cold brew coffee? There are three important differences between these two types of drinks: taste, caffeine content, and brewing time. First off, cold brew has a smoother taste because it is cold brewed for a longer period of time. Iced coffee is cold water poured over cold, already-brewed coffee beans, which means it’s lighter and less flavorful.

Second, cold brew has a higher caffeine content because the cold brewing process extracts more caffeine from the coffee beans than iced coffee does. Thirdly, cold brew takes four times as long to brew as iced coffee does: cold brew takes about 12 hours while iced coffee only takes an hour or two.

If you’re looking for a stronger and smoother taste that has a high caffeine content and can last all day, then cold brew is your drink of choice!

However, if you want something light with less caffeine that you can enjoy all day long without getting tired, then iced coffee is right for you.

Either cold brew or iced coffee can be served hot or cold, depending on your preference. There are cold drip machines that allow you to cold-brew your coffee while you sleep so it’s ready when you wake up!

Other Differences Between Coffee and Cold Brew

At this point, many people have probably heard of cold brew and have even had their fair share of cold brew lattes. The cold brewing process produces a unique taste because it extracts all the good oil from the beans without making the drink bitter.

Plus, cold-brewed coffee is naturally sweeter than ordinary iced coffee because cold water retains more sugar compared to hot water. Since cold brewing takes twelve hours, one might think that there would be less caffeine in cold brew coffee.

However, cold brewing extracts more caffeine from cold brew beans because cold water is better at extracting the caffeinated oils than hot water is.

If you’re looking for a strong drink that tastes great, cold brew has you covered. Cold-brewed coffee has zero or minimal acidity compared to iced coffee which has high levels of acidity, so cold-brewed beans are less bitter and have a smooth taste to them.

Cold Brew has a smooth taste because it is cold brewed for a longer period of time than iced coffee is. Iced coffee is just water poured over already-brewed beans, so it’s lighter and less flavorful than cold brew. The cold brewing process extracts more caffeine from the coffee beans than iced coffee does.

Lastly, even though it takes twelve hours to cold brew your beans as opposed to an hour or two for iced coffee, you will get a stronger drink with more caffeine in it! So if you’re looking for a smooth and flavorful drink that has the right amount of caffeine for your needs, you should choose cold brew!

what is the difference between iced coffee and cold brew

Taste Differences

Another key difference between iced coffee and cold brew is taste. Cold Brew has a smooth taste because it is brewed longer which gives it a better flavor profile when compared to iced coffee.

Cold brew coffee is often touted as the superior option of iced coffee because it keeps many of its desirable characteristics when it’s brewed cold rather than hot. When making regular iced coffee, you brew a pot of hot coffee and then immediately place it in a bucket filled with ice.

This causes the flavor compounds to break down quickly, leaving us with a markedly inferior drink that tastes bitter and flat. Cold-brew methods take longer but allow for a proper extraction from your grounds over time so that all the flavor is retained within your beverage without any loss from transferring from one container to another.

Making Cold Brew at Home

To make this delicious elixir at home you will need:

  • Coffee grinder or blender (if using whole beans) 
  • Coffee filter (for a thicker, smoother iced coffee)
  • Large container with lid (to store your cold brew concentrate in the refrigerator) Optional:
  • Glass bottle(s) to package and serve cold coffee from after it has been brewed.


Brewing cold brew is incredibly simple. Just take a 1:8 ratio of coffee to water, using one ounce of coarsely ground beans for every eight ounces of water. Stir those together thoroughly and then let them sit at room temperature overnight.

In the morning, strain it through some cheesecloth or another type of clean cloth until you’ve gone as far as possible into your straining device without any liquid dripping out anymore. You can use some ice as a chaser if you want, but it’s much better when served straight up.

I hope you enjoy experimenting with different grinds and steep times to create your perfect coffee experience! Thanks for reading!

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