What’s the Difference Between Cold Brew and Iced Coffee?
Trust me there's nothing better than a cold coffee on a hot summers afternoon, it's addictively refreshing and easy to drink, so it comes as no surprise that cold iced coffee is the drink of choice for many coffee lovers. There are many ways to prepare and brew a chilled coffee, however, throwing in a handful of ice into your coffee really isn’t going to cut-it, unless you enjoy a mediocre watered-down brew?
If this whole cold coffee craze is something new to you, you're probably thinking that both cold brew and iced coffee are the same, right? BUT, these two coffee beverages are totally different - So what’s the difference? The dissimilarity all comes down to the coffee brewing process.
…OKAY, so what’s the difference between Cold Brew and Iced Coffee?
The names cold brew coffee and iced coffee are often always used interchangeably, and in almost all cases if you order either of these drinks in a coffee shop you’ll probably always end up with an iced coffee rather than a proper cold brewed coffee. It all sounds confusing, right? Let me break down both cold brew and iced coffee to give you a better understanding of the differences between the two.
Cold Brew Coffee
Let me start off with cold brew coffee. Some coffee drinkers say that cold brew tastes crisper and more refreshing, and, say it’s also stronger than regular iced coffee. This cold coffee brewing process takes the longest of the two, and there are two common ways of doing this, slow drip and Immersion.
Making cold brew with the immersion method is the most common. Typically you would steep (immerse) fresh medium-to-coarse ground coffee in room temperature (or sometimes iced) water, anywhere from 8 to 12 hours or longer!
Once your coffee has steeped, you then filter out the coffee grounds, leaving you with a clean filtered cup of coffee. Unlike other ways to prepare coffee, cold brew is never exposed to any heat and utilizes time rather than temperature to extract the caffeine, sugars, and oils from the coffee.
There are many ways to carry out this brewing method such as using a French Press or even an old sock (only if you're desperate for a caffeine fix).
Make sure to check out my other article for some other BEST cold drip coffee makers.
Iced coffee is typically what would be served if you ordered a cold iced coffee from a coffee shop, such as Starbucks. Iced coffee starts off as any regular coffee and is brewed hot. The hot coffee is then allowed to cool, then it's poured over ice and can be enjoyed with milk, sugar, or anything else you’d like to add.
Sometimes you'll find that the coffee isn’t allowed to cool sufficiently and is poured directly over iced which causes the ice to melt, more ice is then added (busy high-street coffee shops often do this). This leaves you with a diluted iced watered-down coffee.
If you're brewing at home a good way to avoid this is to use coffee ice cubes like these. You can also buy coffee brewers that have been designed specifically to make iced coffee if you want to know more about those check out my article on some of the best-iced coffee makers here.
Hopefully, after reading this, you have a better understanding of how cold brew coffee is different from iced coffee. Armed with this new coffee brewing information you can now make sure you get the right “cold coffee” from your favorite coffee shop on your next visit.
However, that being said, most of the high-street coffee shops will only serve iced coffee and don't have the means to make a GOOD cold brew. To get a good cold brew or even a cold drip brew coffee, you'll most probably have to hunt down a coffee establishment that specializes in this brewing process.
Luckily enough nowadays there are a lot of “new-age” hipster coffee houses that offer just that. If the guy behind the counter has a beard and tattoos, there's a very good chance that they will serve the “proper” cold brew coffee, it doesn’t hurt to ask, right?