Difference Between Cold Brew and Iced Coffee

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Cold brew is coarse coffee grounds steeped in cold water for 12-24 hours. Iced coffee is brewed coffee that has been poured over ice. Both offer different flavor profiles, with cold brew preserving 35mg more caffeine than iced coffee.

Cold brew and iced coffee look the same if you keep them together. As a result, it will be challenging for you to guess which one is which simply by the coffee’s appearance. However, the two beverages aren’t the same thing. They differ significantly when it comes to taste. 

What Is Cold Brew?

Cold brew coffee comes from steeping beans in cold water for 12 hours. Since cold water cannot remove the oils and taste from coffee as quickly as hot water does, cold brew takes longer to brew. 

You can make cold brew in whatever container you like if you soak your coffee grinds in water. A mason jar, a French press, a Clever Dripper, drip coffee, or even a cup of espresso is popular home alternatives if you don’t want to go to Starbucks. 

Many people prefer to add a tiny bit of cream or milk with sugar to cold brew coffee since it is smooth and not acidic. 


How to Make Cold Brew

Coarsely grind the coffee beans, which you may do at home or source coffee grounds from outside. Combine the grounds with the water and steep for at least 12 hours or overnight.

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The coffee steadily absorbs into the water, producing a robust, concentrated brew. Your cold brew is ready to consume the next morning after straining.

What Is Iced Coffee?

Iced coffee is nothing, but regular coffee poured over ice cubes. There are other ways to make iced coffee, but let’s focus on the most common method: swiftly chilling brewed coffee over ice. 

If you pour over scalding hot coffee directly on ice, it will weaken the brew. That’s why iced coffee from most chain restaurants turns out to be watery and flavorless. You can consume iced coffee without sugar or with extra sugar, with milk, or with both.


How to Make Iced Coffee

Making iced coffee at home is relatively easy and quick. Add coffee granules, sugar, and warm water to a glass and stir it well. Once it dissolves, add chilled water to dilute. You can add milk of your choice and ice, and your iced coffee is ready!

Cold Brewvs.Iced Coffee
Mild and sweetFlavorLight and refreshing
More caffeine than iced coffeeCaffeine LevelSlightly less caffeine level than cold brew
$3 to $4Price$2 to $3

What’s The Difference Between A Cold Brew And An Iced Coffee?

Several factors differentiate the two. These are easy to notice, and once you get a hold of them, you can call yourself coffee experts. Here are the differentiating factors for cold brew vs. iced cold coffee:


When you quickly brew coffee for iced coffee, it goes through a chemical process known as oxidation, giving it a stale or rotten flavor. While this will not happen instantly, the heat accelerates the process since beans begin to oxidize slowly as soon as they are roasted. This is precisely how most food franchises make a cup of coffee, which is why their iced coffee tastes watery and flavorless.

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Flash Chill to Preserve Flavor

Flash chilling iced coffee involves boiling coffee straight over ice, and it has become popular in specialty coffee shops. This approach maintains most of the flavor by retaining all the natural fragrances that hot water emits and chilling them promptly. This method produces brighter, more flavorful, and crisper iced coffee. 

In contrast, the cold water used for cold brew substantially modifies the flavor. Cold water does not extract the same amount of flavor from coffee as hot water. 

As a result, the flavor of cold brew coffee differs significantly from that of customarily brewed iced coffee. Since it lacks the acidity and bitterness in hot brewed coffee, cold brew is milder and sweeter than brewed iced coffee. 

Caffeine Level

Caffeine concentration in iced coffee and cold brew varies widely depending on the brewing method utilized. Because it rests for extended periods, cold brew coffee contains more caffeine than iced coffee. 

Cold brew coffee has around 50mg higher caffeine content than iced coffee in most coffee shops. Caffeine levels in ready-to-drink coffee companies that offer cold brew, on the other hand, can range from 50mg to 400mg.


Iced coffee costs between $2 and $3, whereas cold brew costs between $3 and $4, based on where you get it. Since it takes more time to brew, cold brew is more costly than iced coffee. Since it uses a focused amount of coffee, it also utilizes extra coffee beans compared to brewed coffee.

Unlike brewed iced coffee, cold brew coffee is made with fewer coffee beans. If you want a more robust, smoother coffee, the extra dollar spent on the cold brew is well worth it!

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Which Is Better For You: Cold Brew Or Iced Coffee?

Neither cold brew nor iced coffee is superior to the other. We all have different tastes and preferences, so the choice differs. Iced coffee works best for those who want a light yet refreshing beverage with the typical coffee flavor that they can add milk or sugar to sweeten. 

Cold brew coffee suits those who need a sweet, smooth, caffeinated coffee. They can add a tiny quantity of milk or cream. As the ice melts, regular iced coffee will dilute even more; however, cold brew will keep a robust coffee flavor.


Vanessa is passionate about written communication, especially after beginning her career as a middle school English teacher. She’s an experienced content marketer as well. Vanessa loves to analyze, compare, and contrast, which is why she writes for ContrastHub. Besides writing, Vanessa is a wife, mom, entrepreneur, spicy food enthusiast, comedy nerd and lifelong learner.

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