Cold Brew vs Iced Coffee: Discover the Difference


As the temperature rises, so does the cold brew vs iced coffee debate; which one reigns supreme?

Luckily, we're here to help settle the score once and for all (well, at least until the next heatwave hits) with this guide to both cold coffee options.

In this ultimate guide to cold brew and iced coffee, we'll review what each one is as well as the flavor profiles and caffeine content of each option along with instructions on how to make each one. At the end, we'll lay out the key differences and wrap things up with answers to commonly asked questions. 

Whether you're a die-hard iced coffee fan or a cold brew connoisseur, we've got you covered with all the tips and tricks you need to make the perfect cold coffee drink. 

Topics Covered in This Guide

What is Iced Coffee?

In many coffee shops, iced coffee is made by brewing coffee with heat like a normal cup of hot coffee, and simply pouring over ice. It's usually mixed with milk, sweeteners, and added flavor shots.

Iced coffee flavor

Seeing as iced coffee is essentially regular coffee poured over ice, and hot coffee is brewed quickly and at a high temperature, iced coffee can have an acidic taste with bitter notes.

This is why many iced coffee drinkers add milk, cream, or sweeteners to help balance out the acidity and make the flavor more palatable.

Caffeine levels of iced coffee

The caffeine level of iced coffee can vary depending on a few factors such as the type of beans used, the brewing methods, and the serving size.

With that said, the caffeine level of iced coffee is similar to hot coffee, as both are typically made using hot water to extract the caffeine from the beans. 

However, because it's often diluted with ice and other additives such as milk or sweeteners, the actual caffeine concentration per serving can be lower than hot coffee and cold brew.

If you want to maintain a high level of caffeine content in your iced coffees, use coffee ice cubes instead of regular ice cubes. To make coffee ice cubes, simply add hot coffee to an ice cube tray.

How to make iced coffee

Making iced coffee is easy and can be done in just a few steps.

Here's basic instructions using a standard hot coffee maker to get you started. If you don't have an electrical coffee maker, you can always use a French press.

You will need:

• A regular hot coffee maker (or French press)

• Coffee filter

• Medium-to-coarse ground coffee beans

• Hot water

• Ice cubes

• Milk, flavors, or sweeteners (optional)

• Tumbler


1. Brew a pot of strong hot coffee using the coffee maker. It's important to make the coffee stronger than you would for hot coffee, as the ice will dilute the coffee and weaken the flavor.

2. Let the coffee cool so the coffee taste isn't too watered down

3. Fill the tumbler with ice cubes about 3/4 of the way.

4. Pour the hot coffee over the ice cubes, leaving some room at the top for any milk or sweeteners you may want to add.

5. Stir the coffee and ice together until the ice has melted and the coffee is evenly chilled.

6. Add milk, flavors, or sweeteners to taste.

7. Enjoy your homemade iced coffee!

The best coffee tumbler for iced coffees

The best tumbler for iced coffee is the Greens Steel Beast, seeing as it has more space for ice cubes and therefore more space for coffee.

With its double wall vacuum insulated walls and copper lining, the Beast can keep your drinks hot or iced coffee cold for up to 12 hours.

Experience the Beast today and see why there's over 70,000 verified customer reviews on its Amazon page.

BEAST Tumbler

Stainless Steel Double Insulated Coffee Tumbler with Lid and Straw

★★★★★ 70,000+ Amazon Reviews


What is Cold Brew?

Cold brew is a coffee brewing method that involves steeping coarsely ground coffee beans in cold or room temperature water for an extended period of time, usually 12-24 hours.

The slow extraction process creates a coffee concentrate that is smoother, less acidic, and less bitter than hot or iced coffee. The slower extraction process also meant that it can be made in small or very large batches. 

 Regular cold brew coffee is typically served over ice or diluted with water, and can be customized with milk or sweeteners to suit individual preferences.

TLDR; Cold brewed coffee is coffee that's brewed cold.

Cold brew flavor

The flavor profile of cold brew is distinct when compared to iced and hot coffee.

Seeing as cold brew is brewed with cold water over a long period of time, it has a smooth, low-acidic taste with a subtle sweetness.

The flavor profile of cold brew can also vary depending on the type of beans used and the brewing method, but in general, cold brew tends to have a less bitter and less acidic taste than iced or hot coffee.

Caffeine levels of cold brew

In general, cold brew coffee has a higher caffeine concentration per serving compared to iced drip coffee due to the long steeping process. This longer process allows for a higher caffeine extraction from the beans.

However, the actual caffeine level in cold brew, hot drip coffee, and iced coffee can vary depending on a few factors such as the type of beans used, the brewing method, and the serving size.

It's also worth mentioning that because cold brew is often served in smaller portions or diluted with water, the overall caffeine intake per serving may be less than a regular cup of hot or iced coffee.

How to make cold brew

Making cold brew coffee is pretty straightforward, but takes much longer to make when compared to iced coffee.

Here's some basic instructions on how to make your own cold brew coffee using a cold brew coffee maker.

You will need:

• Medium-to-coarse ground coffee beans

• Cold water, or cool water

• A cold brew coffee maker

• Optional flavorings such as almond milk or simple syrup



1. Add coarsely ground coffee beans to the cold brew coffee maker. The general rule of thumb is to use a 1:4 coffee to water ratio (for example, 1 cup of coffee to 4 cups of water), but follow the instructions of the cold brew maker over anything else.

2. Pour filtered water over the coffee grounds, making sure all the coffee grounds are fully immersed in the water.

3. Stir the coffee and water together until well combined.

4. Cover the container and place it in the refrigerator.

5. Allow the coffee to steep in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours, or whatever the directions on the cold brew maker states.

6. Once the coffee is finished steeping, add the desired amount to your tumbler.

7. Dilute the coffee concentrate with water, milk, or additional flavorings to your desired taste.

The best coffee tumbler for cold brew

The best tumbler for cold brew coffee is the Greens Steel Reusable Coffee Mug, seeing as you don't need a lot of extra space for ice cubes.

With its double wall vacuum insulated walls for maximum temperature retention and built-in carrying handle, it's a nice cup ideal for cold brew on the go.

Order the Greens Steel Reusable Coffee Mug today and experience the ultimate travel mug for your cold coffee and beyond.

Greens Steel Reusable Coffee Cup

Stainless Steel Insulated Coffee Mug with Lid and Built-In Handle

★★★★★ 800+ Amazon Reviews


What is nitro cold brew?

Nitro cold brew is a type of cold brewed coffee that has nitrogen gas infused in the brewing process to create a smooth, creamy texture and a foamy head similar to that of a beer.

The nitrogen gas is typically added to the cold brew coffee using a specialized tap or canning process, which creates a unique drinking experience that is both visually striking and delicious.

Nitro cold brew coffee is often served over ice or straight from the tap, and its smooth, velvety texture and rich coffee flavor make it a popular choice among coffee enthusiasts.

How Is Iced Coffee and Cold Brew Different?

Now that we fully understand both coffee options, let's quickly break down the difference between cold brew vs iced coffee.

Check out this quick chart showing the difference between cold brew and iced cold coffee


Iced coffee taste has a more bitter, acidic flavor, whereas cold brew has a more smooth, less acidic taste with a subtle touch of sweetness.

Caffeine levels

Generally, cold brew concentrate has higher caffeine content when compared to traditional iced coffee.

How it’s made

The main difference between cold brew and iced coffee is the brewing process and brewing methods.

Iced coffees are made by brewing instant coffee, and then pouring the hot coffee over ice cubes and can be ready in a matter of minutes.

Cold brew is made by steeping coffee grounds in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours, taking a significantly longer time to make.

Is iced coffee stronger than cold brew?

No, in general, iced coffee is not stronger than cold brew. Both iced coffee and cold brew can vary in strength depending on factors such as the type of instant coffee used, the brewing methods, and the serving size.

Is cold brew healthier than iced coffee?

Cold brew and iced coffee can both be part of a healthy diet when consumed in moderation. Cold brew coffee may have slightly less acidity than iced coffee, which could make it easier on the stomach for some people. However, the health benefits of cold brew and iced coffee are primarily derived from the beans themselves, rather than the brewing method used.

Which is sweeter cold brew or iced coffee?

Neither cold brew nor iced coffee is inherently sweeter than the other. The sweetness of both drinks can be adjusted by adding milk or sweeteners, such as sugar or flavored syrups.

Why does cold brew have calories?

Cold brew coffee can have calories if it is mixed with milk or sweeteners. Pure cold brew coffee made with just coffee beans and water has very few calories.

Does cold brew taste different than iced coffee?

Yes, cold brew coffee has a distinct taste profile that is different from iced coffee. Cold brew coffee is smoother, less acidic, and less bitter than iced coffee, due to its unique brewing process.

Can you heat cold brew coffee or iced coffee?

Yes, you can heat cold brew and iced coffee by microwaving it or heating it up on the stove. However, heating up the leftover coffee may alter the flavor profile of both cold brew and iced coffee.

Can you freeze cold brew coffee?

Yes, you can freeze cold brew coffee. However, freezing coffee can cause the flavor and aroma to deteriorate over time, so it's best to consume frozen cold brew coffee within a few weeks of freezing.

I hope this deep dive into the world of cold brew vs iced coffee has quenched your thirst for knowledge (and caffeine).

While the debate over which of these cold coffees is superior may never truly be settled, the one thing we can all agree on is that a refreshing, icy cup of coffee is the perfect springtime treat or deliverance from an exhausting, hot summer day.

So whether you're team cold brew or team iced coffee, remember to sit back, relax, and savor every sip. And hey, why not try mixing things up with some fun flavors and add-ins? After all, life is too short for boring coffee.

Until next time,

Jenn | Greens Steel

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