If you’re a coffee-lover, chances are you initially thought that iced coffee and cold brew are technically the same thing because they have two common elements: they are both served cold and with ice. This makes them the perfect summertime beverage for those needing a little boost of energy without feeling too sweaty. But are they the same?
They might look similar at a glance, but there are a number of things setting these two drinks apart. To find out more about the differences between iced coffee and cold brew coffee, keep reading!
Preparing Iced Coffee
Iced coffee is literally regular coffee served with ice. Preparation includes brewing regular coffee the usual way and letting it cool for a few minutes. Afterwards, the drink is poured over ice. One issue is that once the ice cubes melt, the flavor is diluted, leading to a bland drink. To prevent this, make sure to double the amount of ground coffee to be brewed for a stronger flavor. Another fun way to avoid a watered down coffee flavor is to make ice cubes from cooled coffee. Simply pour the beverage into an ice cube tray, pop it in the fridge, and enjoy!
Preparing cold brew coffee
Unlike iced coffee, cold brew coffee takes hours to make. This is because the whole preparation does not involve heat and relies on time to draw out the flavor from the grounds. The process starts by steeping coarse-ground coffee in cold water for 12 hours or more. The longer the grounds stay soaked in the water, the stronger the flavor gets. Afterwards, they are filtered out and you now have a coffee-concentrate which can be combined with milk and served with ice.
Now that we have identified the difference in preparation between iced coffee and cold brew, let’s look at the other stark contrasts that set these two cold drinks apart.
Probably the most striking is the flavor. Iced coffee has a mellower and thinner flavor mainly due to the melting ice. Even if the amount of ground coffee is doubled, the taste of iced coffee is still not as strong as cold brew. The latter is technically a coffee-concentrate, which means the flavor is very much richer.
Grind sizes also affect the flavor. Since iced coffee can be initially brewed in a variety of ways, you have more leeway in selecting which size is appropriate for your chosen brewing method. However, it’s highly recommended to use a coarser grind size when cold brewing. This way, it’s easier to filter the water through the coffee grounds and avoid over-extraction, which results in a bitter taste.
So, which is better?
There really isn’t a better one between iced coffee and cold brew since it all boils down to personal preferences. If you need a quick caffeine fix with ice, iced coffee should be your go-to. Not only is it easy to make, it takes less time to prepare compared to cold brew. On the other hand, if you’re after a rich and bold flavor, you might want to try cold brew coffee. It is time-consuming, but the taste is definitely worth effort! Either way, you’re still getting yourself a nice cold drink to keep you awake throughout the day!
How to Make the Best Iced Coffee: Tips, Tricks, and Recipes
If you’d like to try different types of iced coffee, there’s no shortage of great recipes. You can find a simple all-time favorite recipe below.
Iced Coffee Recipe
The first step in making the perfect iced coffee is to start with a high-quality coffee. You can use your favorite brand or blend or try different types of coffee, like Colombian coffee or Ethiopian coffee. We like to use a dark roast coffee for our iced coffee, as it gives it a rich and full flavor that doesn’t get watered down as the ice melts.
Next, it’s time to add the ice. You’ll want to use frozen ice cubes so your coffee can stay cold for as long as possible. Add as much or as little as you like, depending on how strong or cold you want your coffee to be.
Now it’s time to add the extras. If you like coffee creamers and sugar in your coffee, add them now. You can also add coffee syrups such as vanilla or hazelnut if you want something a little different. Simply stir everything together and enjoy!