The Perfect Summer Coffee: Cold Brew Versus Iced Coffee 

This summer will have record high temperatures and I’m sure everyone has already been noticing how hard it is to keep cool. We all love summer… until the heat waves hit. 

As someone who usually drinks my coffee hot each morning, switching to an iced beverage has been really hard. It seems like there are infinitely more cold coffee beverages than there are for hot coffee! 

After considering which iced drinks that are popular, I have narrowed the perfect summer coffee to either a cold brew or an iced coffee. Here’s what I found, so you can make the final decision and beat the heat! 

Brewing Methods 

As I am sure many of you have done countless times, as have I, is to brew coffee and throw ice in it to cool it down. We all know that doesn’t turn out to be great. The ice melts and we just ended up with a watered down version of your usual cup of joe. 

Yuck. 

Luckily, real iced coffee and cold brew are prepared differently and preserve all of the coffee’s flavors. 

cold brew versus iced coffee

Iced Coffee

Iced coffee can be brewed using almost any hot coffee brewing method. The diversity in the brewing process is useful because almost everyone can make iced coffee at home regardless of the tools they have. 

Iced coffee can be made from a regular drip brewer, a french press, a Keurig or almost any other machine. 

After a hot coffee is brewed using whatever way you fancy, simply store the coffee in a container in the fridge until it is cold. Chilling coffee in the fridge usually takes up to two hours. 

Tip: Resist throwing ice in your coffee to cool it down faster. You’ll only end up with watered down coffee. 

Cold Brew

Cold brew is like the exact opposite of iced coffee. It can take from 12 – 24 hours before cold brew coffee is ready to serve! While its brew time is long, the process is not difficult. 

Its coffee that’s made by adding coarsely ground coffee to room temperature water and storing them in the fridge or countertop until the flavor has been fully extracted. It is an easy process, it just takes a long time. 

Once however long you’ve decided that you want your cold brew to brew, simply strain the coffee from the coffee grounds. Sometimes you’ll need to filter a few times to separate all the coffee granules from the drink. 

There is no designated “correct” equipment to use to make cold brew coffee. You can basically use any container with a lid!

Caffeine Content 

If you are comparing the caffeine content of iced coffee and cold brew coffee, there is a very clear winner. Cold brew coffee has the most caffeine content you can order at a coffee shop without extra cost.

Because of it’s long brew time, cold brew has more time and contact with the coffee grounds. This means cold brew coffee is better able to soak up all that caffeinated goodness. Iced coffee on the other hand, is just a standard cup of coffee that has been chilled. 

A standard 16 ounce cup iced coffee contains about 182mg of caffeine. A 16 ounce cup of cold brew coffee contains over 200mg of caffeine

SizeCaffeine Content
6 ounces 71mg
8 ounces 95mg
12 ounces 136mg
16 ounces 182mg
24 ounces 273mg

Flavor

Flavor is one of the most important variables when choosing the perfect summer coffee. It is true that iced coffee and cold brew are, essentially well… coffee. 

But they have waaaayy different flavor profiles. There are several important differences in their flavors and textures that could lead a person to hate one while they love the other. 

As said in the brewing method section, iced coffee is made by brewing hot coffee and then cooling it down. The flavor profile doesn’t really change from how it tastes when it’s hot. 

Hot brewed coffee is one of the most intense and aromatic coffees. This is directly related to the high brewing temperatures these processes use. 

Here’s a quick little lesson on how coffee gets its flavor. The coffee bean contains many molecules that contribute to the overall flavor. Coffee beans release different amounts of various molecules depending on variables such as time or heat. 

One of the most important molecules in a coffee bean is called a tannin. Tannin is one factor that gives coffee it’s bitter taste. The more heat a coffee bean is exposed to, the more tannins will be released into the water. 

Because cold brew coffee doesn’t use heat, fewer tannins are released and cold brew coffee is much sweeter. In fact, cold brew coffee is so sweet in comparison to iced coffee that a majority of people drink it black!

Variety

If you are the type of person to prefer a flavored syrup in your cold coffee beverage, you’ll want to stick to an iced coffee order. Cold brew coffees are typically served with flavored sweetened creamers instead of syrups. But you do whatever your heart desires.

Cold brew also has a variation of it called nitro cold brew. Nitro cold brew is a type of cold brew coffee that looks like a Guinness tap beer. 

It has a sweet and creamy foam top layer that was created by charging a regular cold brew coffee with nitrogen gas! 

Instead of feeling fizzy like a soda, nitro cold brew has the same consistency as a beer. Cold brew coffee is a thicker liquid than iced coffee and the nitrogen charge gives it an added body and a creamy, delightful mouthfeel. 

Health Benefits

Along with all the regular health benefits that regular coffee(iced coffee) has, cold brew coffee has a few extra as well!

One of the biggest health benefits that cold brew has in my opinion, is that it can be easier on your stomach. If you’re prone to getting acid reflux while drinking coffee, cold brew might solve your problems. 

Acidic coffee is not good for your gut. Your stomach and intestines have a hard time processing super acidic foods, which can result in frequent trips to the bathroom and stomach pain. Us coffee addicts all know the feeling. 

Some cold brews have a lower acidic level compared to regular coffee. The more neutral pH cold brew will irritate your stomach way less than regular coffee. 

Cold brew is a delicious lifesaver for those of us who need their daily coffee but don’t want to pay with our health. 

If you’d like to know more about the health benefits that coffee has, Healthline has a really awesome and quick read. 

The Winner In The Cold Brew versus Iced Coffee Matchup?

There is no one coffee that’s better than the other in this icey battle! It all really comes down to your preferences and how you like to take and make your coffee. 

Iced coffee is faster, a little bit easier, and less expensive to brew at home. You can spruce up your iced coffee with a variety of flavored syrups out there. It’s definitely a big winner for a lot of the people out there that drink coffee. 

While cold brew can be a little more time consuming, it’s not much more difficult to brew. The natural sweetness that you get when making cold brew even lets you drink it black. You can even try making nitro cold brew at home yourself if you get tired of regular cold brew! 

Everyone needs a go-to cold coffee beverage for this upcoming heatwave. At the end of the day, coffee is all about preferences. If you can’t decide on one, why not try both?

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