Cold Brew vs. Iced Coffee

Cold Brew vs. Iced Coffee – Which One to Choose?

Cold Brew Coffee has become exceptionally popular nowadays; little do we know that it has been around since a very long time. What does this cold brew coffee mean? What differentiates it from the classic iced coffee?

Cold Brew vs. Iced Coffee – Which One to Choose

This particular article does not declare any specific winner rather it elucidates significant facts about each one. Cold Brew vs. Iced Coffee- Which one to choose? That totally depends on your personal preference of how strong you like your coffee to be and what is your preferred flavor.

Here, we try to delineate all the reasons to help you choose between the two.

Iced Coffee: Japanese-style Brewing method

Even though there are different methods to make iced coffee, most of them are not that appropriate. Japanese-style iced coffee very closely emulates the richness and flavor of hot coffee. Here, coffee is directly brewed onto the ice using any pour-over device like Chemex.

You might be wondering, what makes it so desirable?

The coffee is brewed hot and is then allowed to drip over the ice little by little. That is why the coffee cools down immediately.  The result is tremendously aromatic, somewhat acidic and instantly ready to be served coffee.

Japanese style iced coffee

If the coffee is kept to cool down for a long time, the oxidation process is instigated. Further, this results in flat-tasting and dull coffee. Therefore, it is very important that as soon as the coffee is brewed hot, it must be cooled down immediately for that rich and aromatic assets.

Want to know the best part?

Unlike other iced-coffee methods, Japanese style iced coffee does not produce a very watery coffee. That’s because the coffee is introduced drop by drop over ice, so the ice cubes do not melt away too quickly.

Cold Brew method:

Famous for its smooth and sweet flavor, cold brew method demands a long brewing time from 12 to 48 hours. Reason being, cold water needs more time for extraction of flavors from the coffee grounds than hot water. It does not need any fancy equipment whatsoever.

cold brew method

Coffee is extracted using cold water and then lands either by full immersion or drop by drop. As for taste, you will experience a mild, not-so-acidic and muted flavor of coffee.

Which one to choose? – Let’s compare different factors:

The huge difference between flavors of iced coffee and cold brew completely depends on the brew time and coffee-to-water ratio. Cold brew takes a long time to extract all the essential oils, flavors and acids from the coffee grounds. And so, the taste of cold brew ends up to be sweet, not too bitter, not so acidic and smooth.

brewed coffee

Whereas for iced coffee, the flavor is like a decent balance of acidity and sweetness with a pinch of classic bitterness of coffee.

Let’s compare different factors of the Iced Coffee vs. Cold brew to help you choose your most preferred one.

Caffeine content:

  • Cold brew is brewed as a coffee concentrate. Meaning, it has coffee-to-water ratio ranging from 1:4 or 1:5. So, rest assured that cold brew is definitely more caffeinated than your regular hot drip coffees- if that is what you prefer.
  • You also need to remember that some baristas dilute the concentrate of cold brew with too much water or ice.
  • Iced coffee is caffeinated too, but it might not be as stimulating and energetic as cold brew.
  • Comparatively, cold brew can have as much as 35 mg of more caffeine than iced coffee.


  • Iced coffee retains its flavor better when not kept to cool down for too long. If you prefer traditional bitter-tasting coffee, then iced coffee is the one for you.
  • Cold brew is for those who seek the taste that only time can create. It’s smooth, sweet, chocolaty and brings out a unique creamy flavor of coffee. Nature of cold brew method causes it to mute the flavor of coffee beans and lose its bitterness. If the cold brew is made using high-quality coffee beans, you can still achieve that rich flavorful coffee experience.

Brewing Methods:

  • The only way to make a cold brew is via immersion technique. The water is introduced into the coffee grounds and steeps for several hours. For brewing cold brew at home, you can use a French press machine. The only concern regarding cold brew is the oxidation that might occur during the whole process. To prevent this, the coffee should not be exposed to oxygen. After 12 to 24 hours, the concentrate is then diluted with ice or water.

cold brew vs. iced coffee

  • There are several opinions on which method for brewing iced coffee is best. Conclusively, the Japanese-style ‘brew over ice’ method delivers amazing results. That’s because coffee is best when drank as soon as it’s brewed. Other methods involve the coffee to be kept for steeping, which eventually kills the flavor and makes it cloudy.

Coffee grounds:

  • For cold brew method, the usual water-to-coffee ratio is 4:1. This is suggestively very strong as compared to regular hot coffees. Medium grind size works best for Cold brew.

cold coffee drinks

  • For iced coffee, generally large amounts of coffee grounds are used to overcome over-dilution. Medium to coarse grind size generally makes great iced coffee.
  • For iced coffee, the coffee beans must be fresh. But for cold brew, few weeks old beans are acceptable.

Price factor:

  • Cold brew is generally more expensive as compared to iced coffee. Given its long brewing time and coffee beans needed to make cold brew, it’s more costly.
  • Unlike long steeping processes of cold brew, the iced coffee can be made instantly. So if you are bound to your budget, you can stick with a cup of iced coffee.


  • Cold brew is produced in batches. You cannot really make cold brew for one person, unless you are at home.
  • Iced coffee can be made instantly, even for one person. On the down side, you cannot refrigerate iced coffee for later use.

cold brew or iced coffee

Final thoughts:

If you want to lower down the acid levels in your coffee yet prefer a creamy, chocolaty and sweet-tasting flavor, then go for cold brew. Cold brew method does not break down much acid from the coffee grounds and so it is not too bitter. You can even store cold brew in the refrigerator; it can stay for up to 2 weeks.


As iced coffee brewing uses hot water, the acidity levels easily come out in the drink. So if you prefer classic bitter, delicate and complex coffee, then iced coffee is your last stop!

Lastly, it all lands down to your personal preference. You are free to experiment with different flavors and options to decide what your ideal favorite cup of coffee is.

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