Iced coffee and cold brew coffee filled in a glass placed togather on the wooden table

Cold Brew Vs Iced Coffee: 9 Major Differences to Know

Audrey Harrison
Home brewer

Have you ever got confused between a cold brew and iced coffee? Then let me tell you that you are not alone. Selecting one from these two coffee drinks is not at all easy. Thus to let you know more about these two coffee drinks and help you make the right decision, I am here.

Today I will share with you the details about them. Not just this, I will also share with you how they differ and an easy recipe to make them at home using simple tools.

So get ready for a showdown of cold brew vs iced coffee.

Cold brew Overview

What is cold brew coffee?

A cold brew is a coffee drink made by adding coffee in cold water for a longer period. Usually, people let the coffee steep in water for 12-24 hours or overnight. It helps to extract the best flavors but it is time-consuming.

How to make cold brew?

Step 1: Prepare your ingredients

Pick your ingredients and get ready for brewing. The common ratio most followed for cold brew is 1:4 and 1:8 so here I will be using a 1:4 coffee-to-water ratio where for every 1 gram you'll need 4 ml of water. For cold brew coarsely ground coffee beans is most preferred.

Step 2: Mix coffee and water

Take a container and add 20 grams of coffee to it. Pour around 80 ml of water at room temperature. Once done, give it a fine stir, cover it with a lid, and keep the mixture aside for 12-24 hours. It will help extract the rich flavors from the coarse beans resulting in a concentrated brew.

Step 3: Filter your coffee

After 12-24 hours, strain the mixture using a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth.

Step 4: Dilute the coffee

If you enjoy light coffee, dilute it with water or milk. You can even add some cream or your favorite sweetener for a delightful treat.

You can even keep the leftover cold brew in the refrigerator for around a week and enjoy it anytime you crave an instant caffeine fix.

Read More: Can you heat cold brew?

Iced Coffee Overview

What is iced coffee?

Iced coffee in general is a coffee drink served over ice. You can make it in two ways. Either by brewing coffee using hot water and then serving it with ice, once it gets cooled or you can brew a coffee directly using cold water and serve it with ice.

How to make iced coffee?

Step 1: Brew a coffee

Make a strong coffee. You can use a drip coffee maker, french press, or even a pour-over method.

Step 2: Let it cool

Keep your brewed coffee aside and let it cool at room temperature. You can also make the process faster by transferring it to a pitcher and refrigerating it for 30 minutes to an hour.

Step 3: Serve it over ice

Take a tall glass and add an ice cube to it. Once done, pour the coffee over it. You can even add some other flavorings to it.

Cold brew vs iced coffee

1) Caffeine Content

Cold brew coffee has a lower caffeine content compared to iced coffee. This is because cold brew uses cold water, which extracts caffeine more slowly and less efficiently than hot water used in iced coffee preparation.

The longer steeping time of cold brew also contributes to a lower caffeine concentration.

2) Acidity

Iced coffee tends to be more acidic than cold brew. The hot water used in brewing iced coffee extracts more acids from the coffee grounds that result in a sharper, tangier flavor profile.

In contrast, cold brew's cold water extraction process produces a smoother, less acidic brew that is easier on the stomach for some people.

3) Taste

Cold brew is known for its smooth, mellow flavor with subtle bitter notes. Many people enjoy cold brew coffee without any additions, savoring its natural flavors.

On the other hand, iced coffee is often sweeter and more flavorful, as it is commonly served with milk, cream, sugar, or flavored syrups to enhance its taste.

4) Appearance

Cold brew coffee is dark and opaque, almost resembling a stout beer, due to its long steeping process.

In contrast, iced coffee is lighter in color, often resembling traditional hot coffee but served over ice.

The addition of milk or cream to iced coffee can also affect its appearance, making it creamier and more opaque.

5) Extraction Time

Cold brew coffee requires a longer extraction time compared to iced coffee. Cold brew is steeped for 12-24 hours, allowing the coffee grounds to slowly infuse into the water.

This lengthy process results in a smooth, flavorful concentrate. In contrast, iced coffee can be prepared in minutes, making it a quicker option for those who want their coffee fix fast.

6) Coffee-to-Water Ratio

The coffee-to-water ratio differs between cold brew and iced coffee. Iced coffee is brewed using a 1:1 ratio of coffee to water, producing a standard-strength coffee.

In contrast, cold brew uses a higher coffee-to-water ratio of around 1:4 or even higher, resulting in a more concentrated brew. This concentrate can be diluted with water or milk before serving, depending on personal preference.

7) Temperature

Cold brew coffee is served cold or over ice, making it a refreshing choice, especially in warm weather. Its smooth, mellow flavor profile makes it a popular summer beverage.

Iced coffee, despite its name, is often served chilled but not as cold as cold brew, preserving its nuanced flavors and aroma.

8) Brewing Method

Cold brew coffee is made by steeping coarse coffee grounds in cold water for an extended period, usually 12-24 hours. This slow steeping process extracts flavors differently from hot brewing methods resulting in a smoother, less acidic coffee.

On the other hand, iced coffee is brewed hot, using double-strength coffee that is then poured over ice to cool it down quickly. This method retains more of the coffee's natural acidity and can result in a stronger, more intense flavor.

9) Strength

Cold brew coffee is usually more concentrated than iced coffee, even when diluted. This makes it a preferred choice for those who like strong coffee or want to use it as a base for other drinks.

Iced coffee, while still flavorful, is generally less potent and may be preferred by those looking for a milder coffee experience.


Thus cold brew is the best fit if you want a coffee with higher caffeine and have leisure time for planning. But if you need a light, acidic, less caffeine coffee to refresh you in the middle of the day then iced coffee is a better option.

That's all for this article. Now get your coffee beans, try both these drinks and pick your favorite. I hope now you can make the right choice based on your preferences.


Audrey Harrison

Team TAB
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I am a coffee aficionado based in Seattle. I have devoted my passion and expertise to perfecting the art of home coffee brewing. I became known for my exquisite pour-over and espresso creations. I source coffee beans from local roasters and explores ...