The coffee is our friend and a perfect way to start every morning. But does it have to be so hot all the time? It really doesn’t. In these modern times, every variation is allowed, including serving a cold cup of coffee. The two most common cold coffee drinks are cold brew coffee and iced coffee. No more process of steaming milk or making a froth. Just two simple ways of making a cold refreshment. In this article, we are going to teach you everything you need to know about them. So, grab a coffee and join us for 5 minutes of your time.
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What Is a Cold Brew
Cold brew coffee is the name for the extraction process, not the temperature of the coffee. The method is simple, budget-friendly, and will provide you with great taste. However, it takes a lot of waiting time. Use a premium cold brew coffee maker for satisfaction.
Benefits of Drinking Cold Brew
Mouthfull Taste Without Any Bitter Notes
The slow process of infusion enhances all the beauty of coffee flavors. The low temperature of the water eliminates all the bitterness and sour nuances.
You can always adjust your coffee-to-water ratio to make stronger or weaker coffee.
It might sound weird, given the long-brewing process. But, if you prepare your cold brew coffee the day before, your cup of joe is ready as soon as you open your eyes.
Ka-ching! Brewing your own coffee means you won’t be paying coffee shops for their often overpriced or watery products. Cold-brew coffee can be expensive and not always available in every coffee shop.
You don’t need to use any heat source or electricity to make your cold brew coffee. You won’t even have to use the fridge, as the best temperature for the cold brew coffee is room temperature. For more eco-friendly methods, check our article on the best reusable Nespresso pods.
How Does Cold Brew Coffee Work
In the usual coffee making process, we use hot water to pour over freshly ground coffee. Our cup of coffee gets ready in minutes, but…High water temperatures make coffee bitter and more acidic. Opposite to that process, the cold brewing process will provide you with an absolutely new palette of flavors and up to 67% less acid. That’s because cold water will extract only the very best from your fine beans, although it will take a lot more time. But, we are here to talk about quality coffee, not a quick one.
Pros and Cons of Cold Brew Coffee
- Lasts up to 14 days in the fridge.
- Provides a rich flavor.
- Less acidity.
- You can make a larger batch.
- Has a lot of caffeine.
How to Brew Cold Brew Coffee
You won’t need to prepare a milk frother or buy an expensive automated machine — just your usual kitchen stuff.
- Large pitcher, French press, or a carafe
- Water (room temperature)
- Good coffee beans
- Mesh strainer
- Coffee filter or a cheesecloth
Step 1 – Choose the best coffee grounds
Get yourself a nice, fresh, medium roast. Also, it would be great if you grind the beans yourself, opposite to buying pre-ground.
Step 2 – Put the coffee in the container
Prepare your coffee container. It can be anything, from a French press to a mason jar. Avoid using plastic containers unless they are proven to be BPA-free.
Step 3 – Grind, grind, grind
Grinding time! Medium to coarse grind will allow you slow extraction, while fine grind will offer you more extraction and different taste. Experiment to see what suits your taste buds.
Step 4 – Decide on the perfect brew ratio
If you are new in the cold brew world, you should use a coffee-water ratio of 1:5. Later, you’ll get the chance to experiment and see what ratio is most rewarding for you.
Step 5 – Brewing time
Put your freshly ground coffee in a carafe, and pour the water over it. Wait 10 minutes and then stir vigorously. This way, you are making sure every gram of coffee is soaked in water.
Step 6 – Let it rest
Cover your coffee container and leave it be. The steeping process will be over in the next 12-24 hours, depending on how strong the taste you want. Stir occasionally.
Step 7 – Filter the content
Filter the coffee. If you used a French press, the job is done. Otherwise, put a coffee filter in a mesh strainer, and filter your cold brew. You now have a delicious, strong, and tasty brew to enjoy. Add ice, creamer, sweeteners, or anything else you desire. Enjoy.
Get yourself a whipped cream dispenser. This way, you can enjoy the taste of freshly brewed nitro coffee in your home. Just fill the dispenser with the cold-brewed coffee, add a nitro cartridge, and voila! Your nitro coffee is ready.
What Is Iced Coffee
Shockingly, but iced coffee is made from hot coffee. Just pour the hot coffee over ice cubes, and the process is done. It is also our favorite choice for easily made caffeine refreshment. If you are a fan of making a coffee creamer at home, it will go great with iced coffee.
Benefits of Iced Coffee
Saves You From Burning
No more burnt mouth or tongue when you are still sleepy and half-awake. The only danger is brain freeze if you drink it too quickly.
Easy to Make
You can use any of the methods available. All you need is coffee and ice.
Add some chocolate syrup or chocolate shavings. You will get the health benefits of drinking a delicious mocha in the cool edition.
Just Add Some Shots
Perfect base for adding some alcohol inside and making great summer cocktails. Experiment with everything, from nut liqueurs to hard liquors.
Diverse Coffee Base
You can use your standard coffee machine for making cappuccinos, make an Americano, and cool it down with some ice cubes. In fact, you can use any coffee preparing method to get a delicious iced coffee.
Pros and Cons of Drinking Iced Coffee
- Quick preparation.
- Extremely easy to make.
- Needs less coffee.
- Has less caffeine.
- Short lifespan.
- Ice can ruin the taste.
- Not so tasteful as a cold brew.
- Has less caffeine.
How to Brew Iced Coffee
Standard Iced Coffee
Step 1 – Brew your favorite coffee
Make a cup of coffee using your preferred method. It can be anything from the espresso machine to a Moka pot. For this guide, we will use a drip coffee maker.
Step 2 – Add some sugar
If you are a sugar fan, we recommend adding it right now, while the coffee is still hot.
Step 3 – Let it cool
Let your coffee cool down to room temperature. Avoid putting your hot coffee into a fridge, as the carafe might break, given the temperature difference. Take a tall glass and fill it with ice cubes. Don’t overfill it, as you still need space for a coffee. You can always add more ice.
Pour your coffee into a glass. Enjoy the sound of ice cracking. Optionally, you can add milk, creamer, or anything else into your iced coffee. Grab a straw and enjoy!
Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee
Step 1 – Brew some cold coffee
Using our method, prepare yourself a tasty cold brew coffee. When it’s done, leave it in a fridge for a few hours.
Step 2 – Make it even colder
Take a nice tall glass and fill it with your preferred amount of ice cubes. Make sure you leave some space for coffee.
Step 3 – Filter
Put a small mesh strainer over the glass, and place a coffee filter in it. Carefully pour the coffee on the filter. Of course, if you brewed your cold brew using the French press, you can skip this step.
Step 4 – Add some spice and stir
Additionally, you can add some creamer or a sweetener. Take some extra stirring time, as the coffee is cold already.
Instant Iced Coffee
Step 1 – Prepare instant coffee
Put a tablespoon of instant coffee into a tall glass. If you prefer a stronger coffee taste, just add more of it! Optionally, add sugar, honey, or artificial sweetener. By adding sweeteners at the start of the process, you will make sure it will dissolve easier.
Step 2 – Brew and stir
Pour hot water up to one half of the glass. Stir until the coffee (and sweetener) dissolves completely. Now you have a strong coffee base.
Step 3 – Add some ice cubes
Start adding ice cubes. Add a few of them and stir. They will dissolve easily as the coffee is still hot. Fill the rest of the glass with the ice cubes. Additionally, you can leave a place for coffee creamer, syrup, or whipped cream. Remember, the more you wait, the more the ice dissolves, and your coffee becomes watery.
Cold-Brew vs Iced Coffee Comparison
As you already learned, these two methods are 100% different and will provide you with a different drinking experience. Let’s explore those differences a bit more.
Time and Temperature
As you can make iced coffee using various brewing methods, the temperature means almost nothing. Just make sure you stick to the rules of the usual coffee making for the desired method. As soon as your hot coffee is ready, the iced coffee will also be in the next few minutes. Just wait for the ice to melt.
A cold brew is different. The best results come with water that has a temperature around 70F. The extraction process is much longer, so it takes from 12 to 24 hours. Sometimes even longer.
Cold brew coffee has a lot more caffeine. To be precise, up to 2.5 times more! The reason is simple: the cold brew uses a lot more coffee, not diluted with ice cubes. If you are a fan of iced coffee, but you still need that caffeine spike, don’t worry! Chocolate covered espresso beans are a coffee substitute and will give you that caffeine intake that everyone needs occasionally.
These brewing methods’ final results won’t taste alike, even if you use the same beans. The process of cold extracting the aromas from the coffee beans is slow and rewarding. Hence, cold brew is a robust coffee with a smooth taste and less acid. In iced coffee, most of the taste comes from the hot coffee base. Different preparing methods will provide you with different flavors. Adding ice cubes dilutes the taste, so it’s important not to let your iced coffee stay unfinished for more than half an hour.
Beans and Roast
As always, people have different opinions and a variety of black coffees to choose from. Some coffee devotees claim that the darker roasts are better for the cold brew, while others swear on the light roasts. In the end, it’s your preferences that count. The main difference is that iced coffee must be made from fresh beans. You can even use a bit of older beans with the cold brew method, although it’s not recommended.
The grind size directly impacts the taste of the coffee, so every coffee-preparing method has different settings. For an iced coffee, just use standard grind size for your preferred coffee-making method, varying from medium to coarse.
As for the cold brew method, the opinions differ. The coarser ground is the usual choice and the main reason it takes so long to prepare a cold brew. You can also set your grinder on medium or even fine setting. But you will be in danger of over extracting the coffee. If you are still learning the ways of the cold brew, stick with the coarse grind.
This is the main difference. Iced coffee is quick to make, using even the slowest method you prefer. You just make a hot coffee and pour it over some ice cubes. The downside is you can’t make a large batch of iced coffee.
The cold brewing process is slow, as you are using cold water. Simply, the cold water needs more time to extract the flavor from the coffee. But, using different ratios, you can make a cold-brewed coffee concentrate, which can last you for days.
The iced coffee isn’t meant to last forever. Usually, it lasts up to 30 minutes, depending on the ice amount. After that, just pour it down the sink.
Opposite to that, cold brew coffee can last up to two weeks. Ensure you store it in an airtight container or a mason jar and keep it in a fridge.
Good water and good beans are the base of every coffee drink ever. So, make sure you use nice bottled water or filtered one. For an iced coffee, use the same kind of water for ice making, too.
FAQ About Cold Brew vs Iced Coffee
Is iced coffee stronger than a cold brew?
Cold brew coffee has a much stronger taste, given the different extraction processes and the fact that it uses a lot more coffee. Some coffee aficionados even describe the iced coffee flavor as bland.
Which has more caffeine, iced coffee or cold brew?
It can depend from cup to cup, but we will use the rule of thumb here. Estimation is that a cup of cold brew has 2.5x more caffeine than a cup of iced coffee.
Is cold brew healthier than iced coffee?
Cold brew coffee has less coffee acid, so it’s better for your digestive system. On the other hand, it has a lot more caffeine, so you might consider limiting your daily intake. Both cold brew and iced coffee have the same health benefits as a regular cup of coffee.
Does cold brew coffee have more calories than iced coffee?
In theory, both cold brew and iced coffee have zero calories, as they are made from coffee and water. But, iced coffee is famous for adding creamers, milk, sweeteners, and whipped cream inside to become a real calorie bomb.
Why is cold brew more expensive than iced coffee?
Besides time-consuming preparation, the quantity of the beans adds to the price of the cold brew coffee. The regular cold brew coffee ratio is one cup of coffee to five cups of cold water. If you are making a cold brew concentrate, the ratio is 1:2. On the other hand, iced coffee uses cca two teaspoons of coffee to one cup of water. That’s a big difference.
Is Starbucks cold brew or iced coffee better?
If you order an iced coffee in Starbucks, you’ll get exactly that: hot coffee poured over ice cubes. In fact, a lot of ice cubes, so it can taste pretty watery. But, if you specifically order a cold brew coffee, you will get a coffee that went through a 20 hours extraction process at room temperature. Full taste and caffeine included. Don’t let the big cups fool you. A tall cup of cold brew will have more caffeine than a Trenta cup of iced coffee.
In the end, it’s all up to you. If you prefer quick, refreshing, and low-caffeine coffee, go for the iced one. Cold brew coffee is for people with an acquired taste, and not everyone will like it. No method is “better” or “worse.” They are just different, and you can be a fan of both or hate both. If you want our advice, try Ethiopian coffee with a sweet aroma. It works great with both methods.
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