Difference Between Cold Brew And Iced Coffee - Uncover The Chilling Truth!

Difference Between Cold Brew And Iced Coffee – Uncover The Chilling Truth!

Last updated on January 22nd, 2024 at 12:16

The difference between cold brew and iced coffee is vast with the only similarities being their appearance and the fact that both are coffee beverages, literally, this is where the similarities end.

What is clear, both great, refreshing and enjoyable drinks that hit the spot on give you that tasty boost that you are looking for.

Keep reading for the details about the difference between these two coffee drinks.

Difference Between Cold Brew And Iced Coffee

Cold brew coffee and iced coffee are two very different coffee beverages with the only similarities being their appearance. Both are served with ice and are made with coffee.

That is the extent of their similarities! Everything else is different from flavor profile to the brewing technique, coffee to water ratio, caffeine kick and brew time.

To highlight the difference between cold brew and iced coffee, let’s have a look at the two drinks individually, and you will get a greater idea of each drink and see just how different they are.

Difference Between Cold Brew And Iced Coffee
A Bottle Of Cold Brewed Coffee

Read: Cold brew Vs Iced coffee?

Cold Brew Coffee

Cold brew coffee is a beverage where the real clue is in the name, “cold brew”. It is intentionally and purposively brewed with cold water to extract all the mellow, non-bitter low temperature compounds.

The brew time is long as it can take as long as 18 to 24+ hours for the compounds to extract.

It is a coffee that you can easily enjoy unsweetened and without any dairy product making the perfect coffee for those that are on a diet due to the low 5 calories per drink for all drink sizes.

Iced Coffee

Despite the name, a traditional iced coffee is a hot coffee. It’s hot brewed coffee; more specifically, it is double brewed coffee that is intentionally and specifically made stronger to compensate for melting ice as a measure to prevent your drink from becoming watery.

At home, you can pour your hot coffee slowly into a mason jar or cocktail shaker with ice and shake it for 30 seconds to instantly cool your drink. Then pour into a tall glass with fresh ice. This “trick” will ensure that your ice melts less and maintains the flavor for longer.

Difference Between Cold Brew And Iced Coffee Starbucks

At Starbucks there is huge difference and distinction between their cold brew coffee and their coffee in terms of your drink options.

While you can customize your iced coffee as much or as little as you like, the drinks’ menu has only two options: Iced coffee or iced coffee with milk.

Cold brew coffee at Starbucks can be enjoyed as a regular cold brew served black with nothing else added.

The drinks’ menu also lists a wide range of toppings of sweet cream and cold foams of all flavors. drinks’

Popular cold brew beverages include:

  • Vanilla sweet cream cold foam.
  • Irish cream.
  • Pumpkin cream.
  • Salted cream.
  • Salted caramel sweet cream.
  • Protein blended cold brew.

They also go further and have nitro cold brew at selected outlets which are available as a regular nitro cold brew and a range of flavors including dark mocha, touched vanilla, sweet cream and more.

As a matter of clarity, Nitro cold brew is cold-brewed coffee with nitrogen gas infused. It’s rich, cream and very, very smooth. If you have never tried a nitro cold brew before, try the regular versions first with nothing added.

Difference Between Cold Brew And Iced Coffee Starbucks
Starbucks Cold Brew Bottled

Read: Starbucks cold brew caffeine

Which Is Stronger Cold Brew Or Iced Coffee?

Despite the very smooth, mellow, well-rounded and balanced taste, a cold brew coffee is stronger than iced coffee.

The caffeine content of iced coffee ranges from 120 mg to 285 mg while cold brew coffee ranges from 155 mg to 360 mg for the same four drink sizes. Each cold brew drink size has more caffeine than the iced coffee equivalent.

Difference Between Cold Brew And Iced Coffee Taste

Getting to the fine details of the flavor profile of these two popular coffee drinks. Knowing the expected taste of these two drinks will, perhaps, help you to choose which drink is best suited for your own personal taste and preference.

Cold Brew Coffee Flavor

Due to the flavor, in my opinion cold brew coffee is the king of cold coffee drinks. It’s rich, balanced, well-rounded and very, very smooth.

What stands out about this coffee is the lack of bitter flavors and a very low acidity, making it easier on your stomach.

The chocolate and nutty notes dominate this beverage.

Iced Coffee Flavor Profile

A traditional iced coffee is a cold coffee that is brewed with hot water and extracts the high temperature flavors.

It’s a great tasting coffee due to being double brewed. It’s light, bright and very refreshing and can be enjoyed with a dash of milk and sweetener as per your own gusto.

Difference Between Cold Brew And Regular Coffee

Regular coffee is brewed at a temperature of 92C to 96C (195F to 205F), which is the ideal temperature range for extracting the high temperature compounds.

Above 205F (96C), regardless of the brewing method, your coffee will extract too much of the bitter flavors and will result in an overtly bitter coffee. Below 92C (195F) your coffee will extract the sour notes and be just as unenjoyable as coffee that is too bitter.

The lower temperatures, very low, room temperature 20C (68F) extract the great, mellow and well-rounded balanced flavors with little to no bitterness or sour notes.

Brew times are significantly different also as cold brew coffee can take from 18 hours to 24+ hours to brew while regular coffee is ready in minutes.

Difference Between Cold Brew And Regular Coffee
An Iced Coffee

Read: Does cold brew have more caffeine?

Difference Between Cold Brew And Iced Americano

Cold brew and iced Americano are two very different coffee drinks.

Here is a quick description that briefly outlines both drinks for you to see just how different they are:

  • Cold Brew Coffee: A coffee beverage that is brewed with cold water and a large coarse grind size and long extraction time.
  • Iced Americano: An espresso-based coffee beverage diluted with cold water and iced added to chill it.

An iced Americano can be made with 1 to 4 shots of espresso depending on the drink size and still has less caffeine than a cold brew coffee. It’s a strong tasting coffee with the intensity and boldness subdued by the water diluting the espresso shots.

Difference Between Iced Coffee And Iced Latte

The difference between an iced coffee and an iced latte is best demonstrated by giving you a brief description of the two drinks and letting you see just how different these two coffee beverages are:

  • Iced Coffee: A cold coffee beverage that is hot brewed coffee that is chilled with ice.
  • Iced Latte: A cold coffee beverage that is made with a hot espresso which is cooled with cold milk using an espresso to milk ratio of 1:2. Ice is added to chill the beverage further.

As a side note, an iced cappuccino is different from both drinks as it is made with espresso and cold milk in equal amounts with whipped cream used in place of steamed microfoam. All three components of espresso, cold milk and whipped cream are used in ratios of 1:1:1.

Frequently Asked Questions About Difference Between Cold Brew And Iced Coffee

Does Cold Brew And Iced Coffee Taste Different?

Yes, a cold brew coffee is more balanced, well-rounded, mellow and less acidic than other coffee beverages and can be enjoyed with no milk or sugar.

Iced coffee is sweeter, fruitier, brighter while being refreshingly light tasting. Many coffee lovers add a splash of milk to add further sweetness.

What Is The Point Of Cold Brew?

The point of cold brew coffee is to enjoy a coffee that extracts the low flavor compounds. Unlike hot coffee, it is brewed with cold water and extracts the smooth, mellow flavors and is less acidic and much easier to drink straight with nothing added.

It’s a very different tasting coffee and is very enjoyable.

Is Iced Coffee Always Cold Brew?

No, an iced coffee and cold brew coffee are two different coffee drinks that are made using different brewing methods and as a result taste different.

Iced coffee is brewed coffee made using the drip coffee method and with ice added. Some coffee shops like Starbucks double brew their ice coffee before adding ice.

Cold brew coffee is brewed using cold water and often has ice added. The only similarity between the two drinks is their appearance.

An iced Americano is another drink that looks similar but is different from both an iced coffee and a cold brew coffee.

An iced Americano is made with a shot of espresso which is watered down and diluted with cold water and then has ice added to cool the drink. Like an iced coffee, it starts off as a hot coffee.

Which Is Stronger Cold Brew Or Iced Americano?

An iced Americano ranges from 150 mg to 300 mg of caffeine while a cold brew coffee ranges from 155 mg to 360 mg, which means that a cold brew coffee is stronger than an iced Americano.

Which Is Sweeter Cold Brew Or Iced Coffee?

A cold brew coffee is smoother, sweeter and has a reduced acidity of up to 66% less than iced coffee.

Why Is My Cold Brew So Bitter?

There are a few reasons why your cold brew can end up being too bitter. The main and most common reason is your coffee was over extracted and started to become over brewed and too bitter.

The reason is most likely too long an extraction time or something many first time home brewers of cold brew coffee – forgetting to filter out your coffee grounds when your cold brew is ready.

Another cause is using a grind size that is too small. The ideal grind size is coarse.

Does Cold Brew Go Bad?

Yes, all coffee will eventually go bad. Cold brew coffee will last longer than other coffee drinks and will keep well in your fridge for 5 to 7 days. A cold brew concentrate will stay fresh for 7 to 10 days.

Can You Heat Up Cold Brew Coffee?

Yes, as long as you don’t add any fresh coffee grounds to it, you will not raise the acidity.

The flavor will remain very much unaffected with only the most trained of taste buds noticing a difference.

Heat your cold brew coffee gently. The best way of enjoying a hot cold brew coffee is to make a 1:1 cold brew concentrate, literally liquid ristretto, and add hot water to the concentrate to water it down and make it a hot coffee.

Final Thoughts – Difference Between Cold Brew And Iced Coffee

If you have read this far (thanks, appreciated), you should know the difference between cold brew and iced coffee and just how different these two drinks really are. Literally no similarities at all. Not in taste, not in anything outwith their appearance.

If you have any questions related to cold brew, iced coffee or any cold coffee beverages, ask me and I will happily answer all questions.

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Derek Marshall, a certified barista by the Specialty Coffee Association possesses over two decades of experience in specialty coffee shops. He holds professional certifications for coffee brewing and barista skills. Derek is also an author with authoritative books covering various coffee topics including specialty coffee, sustainability and coffee, coffee brewing, coffee recipes, coffee cocktails and books focusing on Brazilian coffee, Vietnamese coffee, Indonesian coffee and Malaysian coffee. As a barista for over two decades, Derek Marshall has worked in specialty coffee shops across the United Kingdom, Spain, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Vietnam. His expertise extends to the distinct coffee cultures, specialty beverages, and brewing techniques of each nation. Functioning as a coffee consultant, Derek charges US$50 per hour. To learn more about Derek Marshall and Latte Love Brew, visit his About Me Page. For coffee inquiries, contact him at +34-639-410-375 or Derek@LatteLoveBrew.com, mentioning your name and location

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