The Difference Between Cold Brew & Iced Coffee

     During the summer months, it’s always refreshing to have a cold drink. I generally like my coffee hot, but there are times when a coffee over ice or cold brew is just what I am looking for. What is the difference between iced coffee and cold brew? If there is a difference, what is it? There is a difference in preparation and flavor.

     For iced coffee, you fill a cup with ice and pour coffee or espresso shots over the ice. Then, add water to the espresso shots, which is known as an Americano. The flavor of this method is simply a cold version of the coffee you drink. I find Americanos to be very refreshing and delicious because I love the flavor of espresso. The benefit of this method is that you use your everyday process and add ice to what you may have on hand.

     Cold-brew has become more and more popular. If you search the internet for cold brew, you’ll see a lot of options for recipes. You’ll see so many options that it’s overwhelming trying to pick one. The main difference is that cold brew is freshly ground coffee brewed in your refrigerator for 12-18 hours and then strained through a fine-mesh cloth before you enjoy it. Once it’s strained through, you’re ready to enjoy with some ice and any other flavor you would like.

     There’s a difference in the flavor between iced coffee and cold brew. Iced coffee is straightforward. You enjoy your regular cup of coffee with ice. Cold brew is less acidic and has a bright and full flavor compared with iced coffee. 

Which is Better?

     I don’t think you can compare these drinks and compare which is better or worse. They are just different, and it depends on what you like and what you have on hand. I think both methods are refreshing and delicious. When I don’t have cold brew available, a cup of iced coffee is just as good. There are times when, even if I have cold brew ready; I still reach for iced coffee. It depends on what I feel like having.

What Coffee Should I Use for Cold Brew?

     We have sampled all of our coffees in every brewing method we can think of.  We then rate them and recommend the beans that we think draw the best flavors in each method. Here at Sagebrush, there are specific regions that we recommend for cold brew. The coffee in the link below are amazing for home cold brew coffee.

Shop Our Favorite Coffees for Cold Brew

Iced Coffee Recipe

Ingredients

1 cup of coffee at room temperature

2 tablespoons half and half or more to taste

Simple Syrup

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup water

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Simple Syrup Directions 

Combine sugar and 1 cup water in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Let cool completely and stir in vanilla extract; set aside in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Serving Directions

Serve coffee over ice with half and half, simple syrup, and add one teaspoon at a time, to taste.

The Cold-Brew Process

Ratio: 1 cup of ground coffee to 4 cups of cold water.

  1. Grind your coffee beans to a coarse grind. 
  2. Pour cold water into a large pitcher or container.
  3. Stir the ground coffee into the water to make sure all of it is submerged. Cover the container and let sit in the fridge for at least 12 hours, preferably overnight. 
  4. Place a cheesecloth or a fine-mesh strainer over and pour your cold brew through your cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer into the pitcher. Store in the refrigerator.      
  5. Pour over a glass of ice and enjoy. If the coffee is too strong, add some extra water or milk to your glass.

Shop Our Favorite Cold Brew Makers