Cold Brew vs. Iced Coffee: What’s the Difference?

Updated: Jul. 05, 2022

Did you know there's a difference between these two caffeinated faves? Check out the difference between cold brew vs. iced coffee.

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.

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