What's the Difference Between Cold Brew and Iced Coffee?

Reading time: 1 minute

What's the difference between cold brew and iced coffee, anyway? Here's what you need to know.

Cold brew Coffee vs. Iced Coffee

While cold brew is cold coffee, it's definitely not iced coffee. One isn't "better" than the other, but they're made differently and definitely have distinct tastes. Here's what you need to know.

Cold brew is brewed using room temperature or cold water, and the water usually has direct contact with the coffee grounds between 12-24 hours. Once the coffee has finished steeping, the end product is a strong concentrate that can be mixed with water to make cold brew (usually it's about a 50:50 mix of coffee concentrate to water, but it depends how strong you like your coffee). Because there's no hot water involved in the brewing process, cold brew is generally less acidic, has more body, and is a bit more mellow tasting. (RELATED: How to Make Cold Brew in a French Press)

When restaurants first started serving iced coffee,they simply poured hot coffee over ice. The end product tasted too diluted, so most people have moved away from that process and started making a double batch (by using double the amount of coffee grounds in their coffee maker), letting it cool, and then pouring it over ice. To make your brew taste even stronger, you can take a pot of cool coffee and pour it into an ice cube tray and freeze it. The next day, pour hot coffee over your coffee ice cubes and voila! 

If you need a cheat sheet to remember the differences between cold brew and iced coffee...

Cold brew- Made with cold water. Less acidic. Less bitter. Typically more expensive than iced coffee.

Iced coffee- Made with hot or room temperature water. More acidic and bitter. Cheaper than cold brew.