While some may consider iced coffee to be a summertime drink, we’re a firm believer that its acceptable to drink this cool, caffeinated beverage year-round. But when you get to one of your favorite coffee shops, you’re presented with two options: cold brew vs. iced coffee. Both are cold, both come with ice—so what’s the difference?
Well, the big difference is how they’re made. Get the scoop on each type of coffee to find your preference.
What Is Iced Coffee?
Quite simply, iced coffee is exactly what it sounds like: regularly brewed coffee served over ice. This method is quick—all you have to do is brew as normal, cool it down and pour over ice. However, this method dilutes the coffee. To prevent the ice from watering your cold cuppa down, make your iced coffee extra strong by doubling the amount of ground coffee you put in your coffee maker. Another way to double up on the flavor is to make coffee ice cubes. Pour cooled coffee into an ice cube tray, freeze and use for your next cup of iced coffee.
What Is Cold Brew Coffee?
Making cold brew isn’t as straightforward as simple iced coffee. What makes cold brew coffee so tasty is time. To make cold brew, coarse-ground coffee is steeped in cold water for at least twelve hours. The longer the coffee sits, the stronger the flavor. Since it tends to be stronger, serving cold brew with ice is A-OK.
Once it’s done steeping, the grounds are filtered out, leaving you with a coffee-concentrate that can be mixed with milk or water and served over ice. Because cold brew uses time instead of heat to extract the coffee’s oils, sugars and caffeine, the end result is generally less acidic and bitter than iced coffee.
If you’re short on time, you can use purchase a pre-made option from the grocery store.
Thirsty for more? Try one of our homemade coffee shop drinks.
I discovered this layered java beverage during my honeymoon in Spain. —Keri Hesemann, St. Charles, Missouri
This chocolate coffee
recipe is sure to be the highlight of your morning!
This recipe is a delicious morning pick-me-up and still tastes great when made with low-fat milk.—Vicki Wright, Omaha, Nebraska
A quick-and-easy, fall-flavored coffee made with instant granules. What's not to love about this special beverage? —Jill Garn, Charlotte, Michigan
You can easily indulge in a coffeehouse-quality drink at home anytime. With whipped cream and a butterscotch drizzle, this mocha treat will perk up even the sleepiest person at the table. —Taste of Home
This recipe is special to me because the delicious ingredients and flavors speak for themselves without those extra preservatives. Now that’s refreshing! —Brenda Schrag, Farmington, New Mexico
Make spirits bright with a minty mocha to share under the mistletoe or around the piano. I’ve also stirred in coffee liqueur instead of peppermint. —Lauren Brien-Wooster, South Lake Tahoe, California
My maternal grandma seldom drank more than a glass of champagne at Christmas, but she couldn't resist my Creamy Irish Coffee. —Rebecca Little, Park Ridge, Illinois
When I'm sipping this delicious coffee, I almost feel as if I'm visiting my favorite coffeehouse. —Jill Rodriguez, Gonzales, Louisiana
Inspired by the spicy chai drinks served at coffee shops, I whipped up a caramel-drizzled latte I can enjoy at home anytime. —Katelyn Kelly, Perryville, Maryland
This isn't your regular cup of Joe! Dress it up with chocolate, whipped cream and more, making it a drink to savor! —Sharon Delaney-Chronis, South Milwaukee, Wisconsin
This smooth blend of coffee, cocoa and nutty flavors is better than any coffeehouse version we've tried. Try it, and we're sure you will agree. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
This amazing alternative to regular hot coffee is much more economical than store-bought coffee drinks. Sweetened condensed milk and a hint of chocolate lend a special touch. —Heather Nandell, Johnston, Iowa
I love frozen beverages, so I wanted to create one similar to those in coffee shops but without coffee as an ingredient. When I drink this frosty treat it's as good as any specialty shop drink but without the hassle or the cost. —Emily Semmelrock, Jewett City, Connecticut
I have this beverage brewing in my slow cooker at my annual Christmas open house. I set out the whipped cream and grated chocolate in festive dishes so guests can help themselves to as much Kahlua-flavored coffee as they'd like.—Ruth Gruchow, Yorba Linda, California
This frothy iced cappuccino is positively delicious for breakfast, a mid-afternoon snack or an after-dinner dessert. It's also a great quick treat to serve with a plate of cookies for the holidays. To make the ice cream topping easier to drizzle, put it in a squeeze bottle, take the cap off and microwave for a few seconds. —Carol Mann, Summerfield, Florida
We combine rich molasses, golden honey and a host of spices to create this warm and comforting beverage.—Taste of Home Test Kitchen
The blend of flavors—coffee, hazelnut and a bit of chocolate—makes this drink absolutely sensational. It is delightful for breakfast or brunch, or serve it as one of your beverage offerings at a cocktail or dinner party. —Frieda Bliesner, McAllen, Texas
A steaming cup of this Irish cream coffee makes the perfect pick-me-up any time of day. Try experimenting with other liqueurs or creamers
to give each cup new life. —Carol Fate, Waverly, Illinois
I like to sit by the fire and sip this coffee on a cold winter day. It's a wonderful warmup after shoveling snow, skiing, skating or snowmobiling. —Audrey Thibodeau, Gilbert, Arizona
When my sister introduced me to iced coffee, I wasn’t sure I’d like it. Not only did I love it, but I decided to start making my own iced coffee recipe. This easy version is a refreshing alternative to hot coffee. —Jenny Reece, Lowry, Minnesota
Most store-bought flavored coffees are expensive. Here's a special early-morning beverage you can make at home. The aroma of cinnamon and cocoa makes this mocha coffee hard to resist. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
When I tried this punch at a friend's wedding shower, I had to have the recipe. Guests will eagerly gather around the punch bowl when you ladle out this frothy mocha ice cream drink. —Rose Reich, Nampa, Idaho