What’s the Difference Between Cold Brew vs Iced Coffee?

Cold Brew vs Iced Coffee

If you are new to the different coffee drinks, you may have wondered why coffee lovers use different terms, some of which are very confusing. The primary reason for using those terms is to eliminate confusion. Today, this piece focuses on the differences that exist between iced coffee and cold brew coffee. We shall compare the way each drink is prepared and the resulting taste.


cold brew

Cold Brew

Iced coffee is prepared by pouring coffee over ice. To prepare it, start by brewing hot coffee using any brewing method. You can refrigerate the hot coffee or brew it directly over ice.

When it comes to cold brew, steep course grounds in cold water for 12 to 24 hours. But why 12 to 24 hours? Here is why you need to wait for that long:

Time and pressure

ice coffee

Ice Coffee

Many factors influence the extraction of flavors from coffee, and time happens to be very crucial. The speed of extraction (slow or fast) determines what comes out of the beans. In the cases of expresso, the brew is extracted fast because of the high pressure injected by the machine.

Now, when it comes to cold brew coffee, instead of pressure, more time is allowed for full extraction. In the case of iced coffee, extraction is fast because of the hot water used.

Water temperature

Ice coffee

Ice Coffee

Just as more pressure leads to faster extraction, so does the higher temperatures. That explains why a drip coffee maker uses hot water. Now since you will steep your grounds in cold water, you need to leave them for hours to end up with a perfect cold brew.

Flavor extraction

cold brew

Cold Brew

The above factors determine how flavourful your drink will be. If you allow your cold brew enough time, there is no doubt the final brew will satisfy your taste buds. You will certainly enjoy the smooth, sweet chocolatey notes. Basically, cold brewing is all about low pressure, low temperature, and plenty of time.

In case you iced brew, you will miss the cold brew’s mellow, chocolatey flavor because of high water temperature.

The result

Since these two drinks are prepared differently, the resulting taste profiles also vary. Cold-brew is mellow and complex, and it is best known for its sweet and indulgent taste. Besides, cold brew has more caffeine than iced coffee, thanks to the longer extraction period.

But this does not mean iced coffee is a lesser drink. If you are craving the bright bitterness of the well-prepared coffee, then iced coffee will leave you happier.


These two brews may look similar, but actually they are not. Each is prepared differently, and that results in different taste profiles. So next time you place an order for either, remember to be keen to avoid gulping what you did not order.


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