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Cold Brew vs. Iced Coffee: What’s the Difference?

by Kaitlin Graham 08 Jul 2024

Cold brew and iced coffee are both refreshing brewing methods. But what is the difference between them? Cold brew is steeped and then filtered. Iced coffee is brewed hot and added to ice. While they’re both tasty, they each have characteristics that make them unique.

Glass with cold brew coffee

Cold Brew Coffee
Steeped and filtered

Cold brew coffee is made by steeping ground coffee in cold water for 12 to 24 hours. To make your own cold brew, start with a coarse grind coffee. Mix your coffee with water using the ratio of ¼ cup of coffee for every 1 cup of water. The longer you steep it, the stronger your brew. Once it’s brewed as long as you’d like, use a filter to filter out the coffee grounds. You’ll be left with a smooth, mild brew.

We love: Brass Monkey

Iced Coffee
Brewed hot and poured over ice

Iced coffee is traditional hot coffee that has been poured over ice. To make your own iced coffee, brew your coffee using whichever brewing method you prefer. A dark roast is recommended so your brew doesn’t get too watered down once the ice begins to melt. Once your coffee is brewed, add it to a cup with ice, and finish with cream, milk, and flavorings as you like.

We love: Barrel of Monkeys, or any Monkey Hanger medium-dark roasts.

Glass with iced coffee and cream pouring in from above 

Cold Brew vs. Iced Coffee

Here are some things to consider. Cold brew coffee doesn’t involve the use of hot water in its brewing process. Using cold water makes the grinds react differently, which produces less acidity in the brew. Iced coffee uses hot water to brew and is served over ice. Its flavors are what you would expect from a hot coffee.

Cold Brew Pros

  • Saves Time: you can make one big batch that will last you several days
  • Less Acidity: a good option to try for people with sensitive stomachs
  • Adult Drinks: try it as the base for an espresso martini

Cold Brew Cons

  • Long Brewing Time: even though it doesn’t take a lot of active time to make, the 12–24-hour brewing time makes this a poor choice when you want coffee in the moment

Iced Coffee Pros

  • Doesn’t Require Any New Equipment: iced coffee is brewed the same way as hot coffee
  • Quick to Make: Takes the same time as a hot coffee to brew

Iced Coffee Cons

  • Can Get Watered Down: if your roast isn’t strong enough, once the ice melts it might be too watered to taste the flavor notes

Which one should I choose?

As with all coffee, it's up to you! If you prefer smoother, milder flavors, cold brew is where it’s at. If you like bittersweet flavors, go with iced coffee. Make your coffee however you like to get the most out of your coffee experience.  

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