The Difference between Cold Brew and Iced Coffee



Not every day is a hot coffee day and when summer is in town, most days can get too hot to swallow a steaming beverage. For times like these, a cold cup of java can provide you with energy and alertness for the day ahead.


If you’re one of those experienced drinkers you might be familiar with all the classics like Americanos, Cappuccinos, Cortados, Flat white, Lattes, and Macchiatos but can you tell the difference between a cold brew and iced coffee?


When it comes to cold coffees, iced coffee has reigned supreme as the favorite morning pick-me-up on hot summer days. Cold brew was introduced a few years ago claiming to be better than the flat, diluted flavor of iced coffee. As this new drink gained popularity, iced coffee became a rarity in coffee shops.  According to Bloomberg, Starbucks has reported a 20 percent rise in cold coffee sales since it introduced cold brew coffee in its stores nationwide, even though it’s expensive than iced coffee.


So what is it that sets cold brew apart from iced coffee? Not only do they taste different but their brewing methods also vary. Here are a few things that make them different from each other:


Preparation Method

ICED COFFEE: Simply put, it’s just regularly brewed coffee served over ice. All you have to do is brew hot coffee, cool it down and then just pour it over ice. As ice is bound to make the coffee dilute, experts have come up with ways to deal with this problem. They either prepare extra strong coffee by doubling the amount of grounds in the coffee maker or taking a pot of cold coffee and freezing it in ice cube trays. This way they can enhance the flavor by adding frozen coffee cubes instead of ice cubes on normally brewed cups of coffee.


COLD BREW: Making cold brew is another story. What gives it that distinct taste is time. Cold brew is prepared with either cold or room temperature water. Coarse-ground coffee is steeped in cold water for 12 to 24 hours. The longer the coffee is in direct contact with water, the stronger will be its flavor. Once steeping is done, you get a strong concentrate that can be mixed with water, milk or ice to make cold brew. It’s usually kept at 1:1 ratio of coffee concentrate to water, but you can alter it depending on how strong you like it.



Water temperature has a huge effect on the acidity and bitterness of coffee. Iced coffee is made with hot water that’s between 195 to 205 degrees. Heat is what helps in extracting flavor in such a short time but it also makes the coffee more acidic and a little bitter.


On the other hand, cold brew is made without heat. This eliminates the acidity you get with drip coffee, and as cold brew uses time instead of heat to extract the coffee’s natural oils, sugars, and caffeine, you get a generally sweeter, smoother and a softer, more richer flavor profile that is less acidic and less bitter than iced coffee.


Caffeine Content

Cold brew is typically said to have more caffeine than iced coffee but there is just minimal difference. Experts say that because cold brew stays cold throughout, and because the water and coffee grounds are in direct contact for a longer period of time, it is very likely to have more caffeine extracted in the process than a regularly brewed coffee.


Starbucks claims to have 195 mg of caffeine in a 16-ounce iced coffee while a cold brew has 205 mg. So if you’re trying to cut back on caffeine, go for iced coffee!



When it comes to calories, there’s not much difference between the two if you’re not adding any other flavorings. According to Starbucks, their 16-ounce iced coffee, dubbed grande, has the same calories as their cold brew, i.e., 5 calories per cup. While Dunkin’ Donuts 16-ounce iced coffee has 10 calories which is also the same as their cold brew.


As cold brew has a naturally sweeter, creamier profile it might help some drinkers to cut back on cream and sugar.



Cold brew is expensive than iced coffee because its more time consuming and takes a lot of patience and skill to prepare. The end result is definitely worth it though!


Save money and make your own cold brews and iced coffees at home. Get amazing, affordable commercial coffee makers from Hario in Dubai through UAE Ekuep.