Cold Brew vs Iced Coffee

You might be confused when you’ve heard cold brew vs iced coffee in the same sentence. You might not even know the difference between them.

Not a problem.

Although they sound similar, they are quite different drinks which appeal to different people. Let’s read this article and learn which one is perfect for you!

What Is Cold Brew

cold brew coffee
“Cold brew coffee” by Vanilla and lace is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

One of the latest trends in the coffee industry, cold brewing is a brewing method unlike the common misconceptions about it. Although the resultant is certainly a cold coffee, it’s not the same as your regular iced coffee.

To put it simply, “cold brew” is coffee that is made by using different methods compared to regular hot coffees. To make a cold brew, you must brew your coffee in cold or room temperature water for about 6-20 hours.

After the steeping period is over, you’ll get a more mellow and smoother coffee than hot coffees. It also has less acidity and bitterness in it. To sum up, it is the perfect drink for hot summer days because of its refreshing nature and rounded flavor.

In addition, you can store your cold brew up to 2 weeks in your fridge unlike the regular hot brewed coffees, which are pretty much done after 4 hours or so.

Now that I’ve explained the basics of cold brew, we can learn how to make the best cold brew coffee.

How To Make Cold Brew

Don’t be afraid. Cold brew is one of the easiest coffees to make. In 4 simple steps, you can make a refreshing and delicious homemade cold brew for the hot summer days!

  1. First thing you’ll need is a very coarsely ground coffee. 1 ounce (28 grams) coarsely ground coffee is needed per 1 glass of water. You can change how strong your coffee is by adjusting the ratio up or down.
  2. Combine coffee grounds with water.
  3. Steep the coffee 6-24 hours. Just like the ratio, steeping time might change your coffee’s taste as well! Remember, longer steeping time means more bitterness in your coffee.
  4. After steeping is over, there is one more thing to do. You should strain your coffee grounds out of the water. Take a coffee filter, and place it into a sieve. Put a measuring cup under it and just pour through.

Well done. Now you can enjoy your cold brew or store it in the fridge for whenever you want to drink it, that’s up to you.

If you wonder more about cold brew and how to make it, you can check out our detailed guide about it!

What Is Iced Coffee

Let’s take a look at another cold coffee beverage, iced coffee.

Although it’s a cold drink just like cold brew, iced coffee uses a different brewing method. This particular brewing method is the easiest one by far among the coffee world. Why, you ask? Because all you need to do to make iced coffee is just pouring hot coffee into a glass full of ice. You can either pour your hot coffee directly to the glass or you can chill it for a while; it’s your choice.

It’s taste, however, is VERY different from cold brew’s. Iced coffee has a considerably more bitter and acidic taste which can be covered up by adding cream, milk, or cinnamon to the mixture. In addition, you might even taste a distinct caramel flavor in it.

How To Make An Iced Coffee

Yet another drink with a simple preparation process. Iced coffee is one of the best drinks for hot days when you might need some cooling down.

  1. Find a tall glass and fill it up with ice.
  2. Pour your hot or room temperature coffee in the glass.
  3. While you can drink it just like that, you can also add cream or milk to make it even more delicious.
  4. Additionally, you can add sugar if you have a sweet tooth.

Here is our article about how to make the perfect iced coffee!

Differences Between Cold Brew And Iced Coffee


As cold brew is brewed for a long time, the acids, oils and flavors that aren’t extracted result in a smoother drink. It is more sweet and has less acidity due to this. Yet, the extraction process may lead to the suppression of some of the innate flavors coffee has, therefore, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Ultimately, you’ll get a smoother and milder drink with more sweetness, less acidity, and chocolatey undertones.

vanilla and lace cold brew coffee
“Cold Brew Coffee” by Vanilla and lace is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

Iced coffee, on the other hand, has caramel-like undertones thanks to the hot brewing method it uses. Remember how iced coffee is made? Due to first brewing it at hot temperatures and then cooling it down, some unwanted extraction of acids and oils might occur. These acids and oils give your iced coffee more bitter taste compared to the cold brew. My solution for this bitterness is adding sugar and cream into the iced coffee. Try it, you’ll be surprised how much they enhance the coffee’s taste.

Which one should you choose?

  • I want to drink a smoother and milder drink which is both sweet and has chocolatey undertones: Cold Brew
  • There is nothing better than a strong and bitter drink that has caramel like undertones: Iced Coffee


So as to compare their calories equally, I am going to use Starbucks’ drinks as examples.

Starbucks’s cold brew has 6 calories with 0 grams of sugar in a regular 16oz drink.

Iced coffee, however, has 85 calories and 20 grams of sugar in it in a regular 16oz drink.

You can see the big difference between them. If what you’re wondering is “which is healthier cold brew or iced coffee?”, then I can safely say that cold brew is much healthier for you as it has less calories and less acidity, which helps your digestive system to digest it more easily.

Which one should you choose?

  • It’s my cheat day and I need calories ASAP: Iced Coffee
  • I am on a diet and need something with less calories and easy to digest: Cold Brew


I hear this question all the time: “Is cold brew stronger than iced coffee?” The answer is actually yes. Cold brew is indeed stronger than iced coffee.

When the cold brewing process is over, the resultant is an extremely concentrated coffee diluted with water. Therefore, you’ll get a coffee that has double the amount of caffeine iced coffee has.

In this method, you can change the amount of coffee it has by decreasing or increasing the water. Remember, less water means more caffeine and vice versa.

Iced coffees, on the other hand, tend to have less caffeine because they are watered down during the brewing process. Just like the cold brew, you can adjust the amount of caffeine in it.

Which one should you choose?

  • Midterms are coming up and I need to pull an all-nighter: Cold Brew
  • All I want is drinking a cup of coffee and being able to sleep: Iced Coffee


Cold brew and iced coffee. The perfect drinks for hot summer days are actually quite different. They both use different brewing methods, contain different amounts of caffeine and calories, and have a different taste.

Yet, they are both delicious and everyone should try them at least once. If you are team bitter, you’ll love iced coffees. If having a sweet tooth is your thing, cold brew is your guy. Choose your side and enjoy your drink.

Cold Brew vs Iced Coffee: Are They The Same?

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