Cold Brew Vs. Iced Coffee (A Quick Guide With Recipes)

Last Updated on February 13, 2022 by John Moretti

Coffee consumption is an essential daily ritual for many people worldwide. There is nothing better in the summer than drinking a cool cup of coffee, which you can get in two forms, cold brew and iced coffee.

Although these two coffee drinks might look alike, they have some fundamental differences. So what are the differences between cold brew and iced coffee?

Cold-brew is a lengthy process, using ground coffee steeped in cool water for 12 – 24 hours. It has naturally chocolatey, sweet flavors and is full-bodied and smooth. Iced coffee is a quicker process, brewed with boiled water, added to ice, or allowed to cool. It is well-balanced and medium-bodied. 

The main difference between these two cold refreshing caffeinated drinks is how you make them. Although, this information only brushes the surface of their differences.

Let’s delve deeper into the differences between production methods and brew time and the final flavors and body of cold brew vs. iced coffee.

Cold Brew Vs. Iced Coffee

Cold Brew Vs. Iced Coffee: Brewing Times

  • Cold Brew Coffee

What makes cold brew unique is that it is produced by steeping coffee grounds in cool or room temperature water for 12 – 24 hours. The shortest period for brewing is 12 hours.

The longer you allow your coffee to steep, the stronger the flavor. This lengthy process gives it the unique flavors that you won’t typically get in coffee brewed with hot water. 

  • Iced Coffee

Iced coffee is your typically brewed coffee made colder becoming ‘iced coffee.’ This cold coffee drink can be made in minutes or can take a few hours, depending on how you wish to complete your drink.

Usually, iced coffee will taste the same or similar to a regular cup of hot brewed coffee. In some cases, depending on how you have made this beverage, your coffee might taste a bit diluted.

Cold Brew Vs. Iced Coffee: How Are They Made?

Making Iced Coffees

The brewing method gives these two delicious coffee drinks their flavors and aromas, making them unique from each other. Let’s look at how you can make cold brews and iced coffees.

How Do You Make A Cold Brew?

Before starting, make sure you have all your ingredients, including one cup of coarsely ground coffee, 6 – 8 cups of cold water, one large mason jar, and a mesh sieve. Coarsely ground coffee grounds are the best to use in this process. Opting to use filtered water will get the best taste in the end.

The following is an easy recipe for making cold brews:

  • Add your ground coffee to the mason jar 
  • Add 6 – 8 cups of cold or room temperature water to the jar, depending on preference
  • Cover your container, placing it in the fridge for a minimum of 12 hours up to 24 hours; steeping time will depend on how strong you want it
  • After it has steeped for the desired amount of time, you can take it out of the fridge and strain it using your fine-mesh sieve
  • Dispose of your grounds
  • Next, strain your brew through a coffee filter; this makes sure to remove all of the fine particles
  • Serve and enjoy
Cold Brew

You can consume a cold brew in several ways, including straight from the filter added to ice, or you can add some milk and sugar to the mix, and some people prefer to add some form of syrup to make it sweeter.

You can even heat it and drink it as a warm beverage. You can store your freshly made cold brew in your fridge for two weeks.

How Do You Make Iced Coffee?

Making Iced Coffee

Iced coffee is what it sounds like, coffee that has been cooled down and added to ice. Making this cold coffee beverage is super easy. All you need is your standard coffee-making equipment and your favorite coffee beans ground to suit how you make your coffee.

Two Different Methods to Make Iced Coffee

Brew your coffee as you would typically using hot water and your preferred brewing method.

Option 1: Pour your freshly brewed hot coffee straight over ice cubes, then sit back and enjoy

Option 2: Allow your freshly brewed hot coffee to cool for a few hours, either standing out or in the fridge; once cooled, pour over ice cubes, then sit back and enjoy

If you do not consume your iced coffee quickly, it can start to taste somewhat diluted due to the melting ice.

You can make a more potent initial brew to prevent this so that the melting ice is not a problem. Or you can make ice cubes out of brewed coffee so that as they melt, they add to the overall strength of the beverage.

Cold Brew Vs. Iced Coffee: What Is The Difference In Flavor?

Cold Brew Coffees

Because of their different brewing methods, cold brew and iced coffee taste have different flavors, aromas, and acidity levels.

How Does Cold Brew Taste?

Cold-brew utilizes an extended steeping technique using cold water and low pressure. The resulting taste is very different from other coffee brewing methods.

The drawn-out, long extraction period allows cold brews to access flavors that are not accessible to the quicker brewing processes. The taste is also less acidic as there is no heat extraction in this process.

Cold Brew

Cold-brew includes the sweet, smooth chocolatey flavors not as present in other coffee beverages. The sweetness in the cold brew taste comes from the fact that they do not taste as bitter and acidic as hot brewed coffees.

Overall, cold brew coffee beverages have complex and mellow flavors and are considered a smoother beverage than iced coffee.

How Does Iced Coffee Taste?

iced coffee taste

You brew an iced coffee using heat, and therefore the extraction occurs much faster. It produces the usual bitter, bold, and acidic flavors typical in your average hot coffee beverage. The taste of iced coffee will change depending on how you make it. 

Most people think that the ‘flash cooled’ process, where you pour the freshly brewed hot coffee over ice and allow it to chill immediately, is better for making iced coffee. This method also allows the coffee flavors to be still present, creating an aromatic, rich, and refreshing cup of iced coffee.

Iced coffee made using the cooling method, which is making your hot brewed coffee and then allowing it to cool naturally before adding it to ice, often has a thinner, less flavorful taste.

Making Iced Coffee

When you subject coffee to heat during the brewing process, it undergoes a chemical change. This change is called oxidization. Oxidization can give your coffee a rancid and stale taste. 

While the change happens over time, allowing your coffee to sit and cool gives oxidization more time to occur and your coffee to lose much of its aroma and flavor. It leaves you with a flavorless and watery tasting iced coffee, which can worsen if the brew was initially not too strong and added to melting ice cubes.


Iced coffee and cold brew have unique flavors and aromas and make excellent beverages. Iced coffees are quicker to make using hot water, whereas you make cold brew using cold water and brew it for a longer time.

Iced coffee tastes almost the same as your typical cup of brewed coffee. Cold-brew has unique chocolatey flavors and a less acidic taste with similar acidity levels and flavors.

You can make iced coffees one of two ways, and each has a unique taste, although both ways are drunk cold. Cold-brew can be drunk in several ways and made into a hot beverage.