If you are a cold coffee drinker, chances are you have already experimented with a cold brew or iced coffee beverages. Picture: Pexels Amelia Hallsworth
If you are a cold coffee drinker, chances are you have already experimented with a cold brew or iced coffee beverages. Picture: Pexels Amelia Hallsworth

What’s the difference between cold brew and iced coffee?

By Lutho Pasiya Time of article published Jul 21, 2021

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If you are a cold coffee drinker, chances are you have already experimented with a cold brew or iced coffee beverages.

If you have not tried them both, you may be curious to learn the difference between them.

After all, they are both cool and caffeinated pick-me-ups made with ice.

However, while both beverages may appear to be similar, they are quite different. What is the difference?

It all boils down to the brewing process.

While iced coffee is brewed hot like regular coffee and then cooled down, cold brew is made by steeping ground beans in cold water.

This results in both a longer brew time and a smoother taste. Keep reading to learn about the distinct differences between cold brew and iced coffee.

Cold brew

Mostly known as “the coffee drink of the summer” and often mistaken for iced coffee, cold brew is not a barista pouring coffee over ice.

It is so much more and a whole lot flavourful. The water is room temperature or colder and never heated, and the coffee is brewed for at least 10 hours.

When you add hot water to your coffee, you do lose some of the flavour in the drink and the acidity also increases.

With cold brew, the flavour notes of the coffee are not burnt off and you can lock in more of the aromas.

Oliver Strand from the New York Times gave the best description of the cold brew when he wrote: “Cold brew is more than a slowed-down version of hot coffee; it’s a noticeably different product.

“Hot water will bring out the acids in coffee, a characteristic that professional tasters call ‘brightness”.

Iced coffee

Coffee lovers will know that iced coffee is an all-time favourite for many, especially on a hot afternoon.

Iced coffee is exactly what it sounds like – coffee that is cold. Also known as Café Freddo, hot espresso is poured over ice then topped off with milk foam.

Some variants of the beverage include just pouring the espresso over ice with no milk added.

Some variants add cold milk to the glass before the espresso is added, but the concept remains the same – ice, espresso and milk. It is made using heat (the same way you would make a hot cup).

The difference is that instead of drinking it instantly, you need to let your brew cool down.

You can also add any syrup flavourings to sweeten it, then enjoy. How does it taste? Well, it tastes just like coffee except much more refreshing.

While sugary iced coffee concoctions like Starbucks’ frappuccinos have been popular for years, baristas and coffee bars are seeing an increasing demand for more sophisticated iced espressos and lattes.

Many now say they serve more cold coffee than hot – even during winter.

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