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A glass of cold brew which is different from iced coffee

Cold Brew vs Iced Coffee: What's the Difference?

July 11, 2021

Wondering what on earth is the difference between cold brew vs iced coffee? Aren’t they just two fancy names for the same refreshing drink? 

Let’s break the ice and clear things up for you.

What is cold brew coffee?

A glass of cold brew

Cold brew coffee is a type of brewing method rather than a drink: it consists of using cold instead of almost-boiling water to extract the grounds. 

Because of this major difference, it needs a much coarser grind and takes a lot longer than your usual cup of hot joe, ready in 4-5 minutes: cold brew coffee must steep for at least twelve hours.

Still, trust us: it’s worth it!

This unique process results in a brew that, as well as being delightfully refreshing, is even smoother and less acidic than traditional java.

While cold brew coffee is super tasty on its own, you can still dilute it with water or cold milk.

As long as you’re patient, making it is incredibly easy, especially if you use our cold brew coffee recipes.

What is iced coffee?

An iced coffee

Iced coffee is a refreshing caffeinated beverage obtained by brewing hot coffee and adding cold milk and ice cubes to cool it down.

This can either be achieved with an espresso shot (or two) or traditional black coffee.

Since iced coffee is a fairly generic term, many drinks fall within this category, from iced lattes to frappuccinos and anything that resourceful coffeeshops can come up with when the weather gets warmer.

Why not start with our refreshing iced coffee recipe?

So, what is the difference between cold brew vs iced coffee?

Basically, the difference between cold brew vs iced coffee is how they’re brewed: cold brews rely on cold water, coarse grounds and a much longer extraction time, whereas iced coffee is made by adding cold milk and ice cubes to traditionally brewed joe.

But let’s make sure we answer all of your iced coffee vs cold brew questions!

Does cold brew coffee have more caffeine than iced coffee?

Yes, usually cold brew coffee has more caffeine than iced coffee. Here’s why we can confidently end the cold brew vs iced coffee caffeine debate!

An espresso contains an average of 63 mg of caffeine per shot. Even if you were to use two for your iced coffee, that’s 126 mg. Using black coffee? A large mug (12 oz) contains around 140 mg.

Obviously, this doesn’t change when you add milk and ice.

With cold brews, on the other hand, you use a 1:5 ratio. This is more concentrated than traditional coffee (1:15) and, while not as concentrated as espresso (1:2), more grounds are required for cold brews, meaning... more caffeine!

The exact amount can change depending on how you brew it and whether or not you dilute it, but, to give you an idea, an average 12 oz cold brew has 153-238 mg of caffeine.

Cold brew coffee with milk

Is cold brew better than iced coffee?

Whether cold brew is better than iced coffee really depends on your personal preference. However, as coffee roasters, we’re inclined to say that yes, cold brew coffee is better: it’s smooth, less acidic and, most importantly, not diluted. 

If you have a soft spot for iced coffee but aren’t a fan of how watery it gets when you leave it for a few minutes, steal one of our coffee hacks and use coffee ice cubes, instead.

We hope all is clear when it comes to cold brew vs iced coffee differences. Whichever one you fancy brewing next, be sure to have the best coffee for it.

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