Last Updated on May 23, 2022 by John Moretti
Iced coffee is becoming more popular everywhere, but those who enjoy black coffee are always pleased to find out that cold, refreshing versions of black coffee are commonly available as well. The two most widely enjoyed cold black coffee drinks are the iced americano and cold brew coffee, but what are the differences between them?
The iced americano is a hot, espresso-based drink that is chilled with ice before drinking. It is refreshing and holds all of the bold flavors of rich espresso. Cold brew is brewed cold over a long period of time. It tastes sweet, intense, and highlights any fruity or sharp flavors in the coffee.
There is almost nothing more refreshing for a coffee lover than an iced coffee, but the choices are somewhat limited for those who do not enjoy flavored coffee drinks. Let’s explore the two best options for cold back coffee and identify what makes them different and what makes them special.
The Iced Americano
If you enjoy drinking black coffee, you may find yourself frustrated at the lack of cold coffee options that you enjoy. Most iced or cold coffee drinks are sweetened, flavored, and prepared with some form of milk or cream as well.
If this has been a frustration for you, the iced americano is the answer. This drink is the perfect beverage for the person who enjoys a strong cup of black coffee but who is also seeking a refreshing cold drink.
The iced americano is a regular americano poured over ice to cool it down. The americano is typically brewed with one or two shots of bold espresso and diluted with hot water. In this instance, hot water is replaced with cold water, and the entire drink is chilled with ice.
The advantage of the iced americano is that the coffee is brewed using traditional hot methods and is then chilled afterward to form the iced drink. This causes the coffee to be fully and beautifully extracted, which allows all of the unique and delicious flavor notes of the coffee to be fully extracted.
When the coffee is subsequently cooled down with cold water and ice, it does not lose any of its natural and intense flavors, but the cold temperatures actually highlight these flavors, help to hide some of the bitterness and acidity naturally present in the drink and make all of the subtle flavors much bolder and easier to identify.
These characteristics make the iced americano the perfect drink for the coffee enthusiast who cares about the flavors of the coffee, who enjoys a strong, bold cup of coffee, and who also enjoys an iced coffee drink.
Cold Brew Coffee
Cold brew coffee is another very popular choice among those who enjoy black iced coffee drinks. However, this type of cold coffee is also well suited for mixing, flavoring, and combining with other ingredients to form unique and interesting cold coffee drinks.
The difference between an iced americano and cold brew coffee is that while the americano is rewed using hot-brewed traditional espresso, cold brew is brewed cold entirely from start to finish. Heat is never introduced to the coffee.
Brewing coffee cold is a very different process from brewing coffee hot, and the result is an entirely unique and very different tasting cup of coffee.
Cold brew is made by placing very coarsely ground coffee beans into cold water to brew for very long periods, typically 12 – 24 hours in total. The brew is so long because there is no heat or pressure to help move the extraction along more quickly.
This process can produce a very strong cold brew concentrate that is then used to prepare cold-brew-based drinks, or it can produce a ready-to-drink cold brew that is more diluted.
The cold brewing process extracts less caffeine from the coffee, which means that while cold brew may taste very intense and unique, it typically contains less caffeine.
Cold-brew coffee tastes very different from hot brewed coffee drinks, as the natural flavors of the coffee used are brought forward in a very intense way.
How Are These Cold Coffee Drinks Different?
Both the iced americano and cold brew coffee are favorites among iced coffee lovers, but they are very different drinks. We have already discussed that the iced americano is prepared using hot espresso that is then chilled, and cold brew is brewed cold over long periods. These are the main differences between them, but are there any others?
The truth is, an iced americano and a cup of cold brew are different in almost every way. The iced americano possesses all of the sweet, intense, rich, well-rounded flavors of traditional espresso, only made more intense by the cold temperature of the drink. This beverage is refreshing, tasty, full of flavor, and is everything that an americano is, only colder.
Cold-brew tastes very different. None of the rich or intense flavors of the coffee are extracted with this process, but all of the soluble material from the coffee beans is dissolved into the drink, which means that this coffee possesses all of the bright, sharp, loose flavors of coffee without much of the richness or depth.
This can be an excellent flavor, though, if the right coffee is used. Fruity, nutty, acidic, bright-tasting coffees work very well for a cold brew as these flavors are accentuated. These characteristics produce an almost juice or tea-like coffee drink that is fantastic for use as a base for creating flavorful coffee drinks.
Which Drink Is Best For You?
Knowing which type of cold coffee beverage will best suit your taste preferences can be a challenge, but there are some aspects of these drinks that can help you make the decision upon your next cold coffee order.
If you enjoy black coffee, if the americano or pour-over coffee is something that you enjoy, and if you are a fan of intense, strong, bold, well-balanced coffee, then the iced americano is well suited for you.
This drink holds all of these same great coffee characteristics chilled down over ice for enjoyment on a hot day.
Cold-brew is the better option for you if you want a cold coffee drink that bursts with flavor, that is sweet, playful, and ideal for mixing with other ingredients to create something unique.
Both of these coffee drinks are excellent, but which one you will prefer is entirely dependent on personal preferences.
The iced americano is a hot espresso-based drink that is chilled with ice, and cold brew coffee is brewed cold, is never in contact with heat, and served cold either black or as a base for another drink.
Both cold brew and the iced americano are ideal for coffee lovers who seek a refreshing beverage, but the iced americano is better for those who love black coffee, and cold brew is better for those who enjoy coffee-based drinks.