The calendar is slowly but surely flipping over to summertime, bringing hot weather, road trips, and plenty of ice-cold drinks. For coffee drinkers, the change in the seasons can also bring about a change in habits, as many people look for cooler alternatives to their piping hot cup of joe in the morning.
If you’re one of these coffee drinkers and find yourself in need of a chilly coffee beverage, you’ll probably end up with one of two alternatives; iced coffee or cold-brew coffee. They probably sound like the exact same thing on the surface, but despite the similar names, these are two very different drinks with very different tastes and brewing methods. So, if you want to learn about the difference between a cold brew and an iced coffee, you’re in the right place!
We’ll go over how to make cold brew, iced coffee, and all the differences that separate the two drinks, so you can head into the summer months with a head start on your coffee routine!
Iced Coffee and Cold Brew
Unlike some other fancier coffee drinks, both the iced coffee and cold-brew are relatively simple to make at home, so you won’t have to rely on a coffee shop for the best summer java. You can use the same beans, roast type, grind size, and equipment to make either drink, so don’t feel stressed about all those decisions! The most significant difference between cold brew and iced coffee lies in how you brew the drink rather than the ingredients or tools you’ll need.
We’re starting our comparison with iced coffee, as it’s held widespread attention for a longer period of time, and more people are probably familiar with it than cold-brew. That’s not to say cold-brew hasn’t existed for a long time (it can be traced back to at least the 1600s), but between the two, iced coffee is simpler and easier to recognize for most people.
There are a few ways to make iced coffee, and they all depend on your personal preference. However, regardless of the method you choose, you need to start by figuring out your favorite method of brewing hot coffee. Though it might sound counterintuitive at first, all iced coffee begins as hot coffee, so nailing down your favorite brewing method is only going to help your iced coffee later on.
Method #1- Regular Iced Coffee
- Start by brewing your favorite hot coffee, using your brewing method and beans of choice.
- Once the coffee is brewed, pour it into a sealable container with the lid off, and let the coffee cool.
- Once at room temperature, seal the container, and put the coffee in the fridge to cool further.
- When you are ready to drink it, pour your cold coffee over ice and enjoy!
This method is straightforward and hard to mess up, making it the most common iced coffee method out there. That being said, people tend to complain about the strength and flavor of this kind of iced coffee. It can often taste watery and weak, which has turned people away in the past.
If you want to get the most out of your iced coffee, you might want to try the second method instead! This method called the Japanese Style Iced Coffee, accounts for the ice you will use, making for a balanced and well-rounded cup of coffee.
Method #2- Japanese Iced Coffee
This method is a bit more intricate and requires a pour-over coffee machine and a scale. The result, however, is well worth the extra time and effort.
- Start by placing your pour-over equipment on the scale, and measure out 30 grams of coffee grounds.
- In the container underneath your grounds, measure out 8 ounces (225 grams) of ice.
- Separately, boil another 8 ounces (225 grams) of water.
- When the water is boiled, slowly pour it over the coffee grounds. Do this as slowly as possible to allow the coffee to cool gradually as it drips onto the ice.
- Once you finish pouring, allow all the coffee to settle into the container, remove the grounds, and enjoy!
Using equal parts water and ice, you ensure that your coffee stays the same strength as a regular cup while simultaneously drawing out more flavor!
Cold Brew Coffee
So if iced coffee is essentially just “regular coffee but cold,” what is cold brew? Cold brew is a coffee brewing method that relies on time instead of heat to extract coffee beans flavors. There’s no boiling water (or cold water for that matter, but we’re getting to that) involved in the process.
To become a cold-brew, coffee sits in room temperature water for an extended period of time before getting filtered. By avoiding any heat and getting the correct ratio of grounds to water, you create coffee with less acidity and smoother flavor than regular coffee.
In our opinion, cold brew will always be a better option than iced, as it is smoother, stronger, and naturally has more caffeine. We’ve even perfected the cold-brewing process so that every can of ours is perfectly brewed to beat the heat in style. However, if you still want to try and make your own cold brew, we’ll show you one of the most accessible ways to do it.
Cold Brew Method
For this particular method, we use a french press, though there are many different methods out there that you can adapt for your needs.
- Start by measuring out your coffee and water. For the most common cold brew coffee ratio, use 1 part coffee grounds to 5 parts water. For example, if you want to make a 15 ounce batch of cold brew, measure 3 ounces of coffee grounds and 15 ounces of water.
- Coarsely grind your coffee, and combine the coffee and water in a french press. Make sure the water is room temperature.
- Let the mixture sit for a minimum of 12 hours and up to 15 hours. Once you get to the 20 to 24-hour range, your coffee may become over-extracted.
- Once you are done waiting, slowly plunge the filter of your french press. For other methods, you can use any number of coffee filters for this process.
- Pour out and enjoy!
As long as you get the correct “cold-brew ratio” and have a little patience, you’ll have a tasty cold brew in no time.
While we have nothing against iced coffee, we’ll be the first to celebrate cold brews. Our readymade cold brew is perfect for those who do and for anyone chasing their passion. We take pride in making a smooth, naturally caffeinated drink for everyone, and we’re excited to share it with you.