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Iced Coffee vs Cold Brew: 5 Differences to Determine Which is Better

Aromatic coffee, some like it hot, some like it cold!

When it’s sizzling hot in the summer, everyone appreciates cold coffee.

This article is a battle between two cold coffee legends; we refer to iced coffee vs. cold brew.

What are they? Ice coffee vs. cold brew, which is better? We’ll give answers to this and more. Let the battle begin!

15-Seconds Summary

1. Iced coffee is regular coffee that is brewed, allowed to cool, and then poured over ice. It’s usually more acidic, less caffeinated, medium flavored, cheap but still good coffee.

2. Cold Brew coffee is prepared by steeping coffee for about 12 to 24 hours to extract its flavor. It is less acidic, more caffeinated, smooth, and flavored. It’s relatively expensive, but it’s also a good cold coffee.

3. Both coffee choices are unique; the choice depends on individual preference.

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Iced Coffee Vs. Cold Brew- What Are They?

What is Iced Coffee?

iced coffee

As the name suggests, iced coffee is a simple and delicious brewed coffee with ice added to it for your enjoyment. Its name refers to the temperature of the coffee.

What is Cold Brew?

cold brew

Cold brew coffee is coffee made from “marinating” or steeping regular coffee in cold water. The name cold brew refers to how the coffee is made and not its temperature.

Both coffees are delicious and plentiful for hot weather.

Now that we know both coffee types let’s talk about their differences.

Iced Coffee Vs. Cold Brew- Differences

Like every battle for the best, some differences set each participant apart. These are some differences between both coffee types.

Preparation- Iced Coffee Is Faster

Iced coffee is prepared the same way regular coffee is made. You brew regular coffee in a machine, pour in a cup or glass, and add ice. Pretty simple!

In comparison, cold brews might take a longer time to prepare. Trust us; it’s worth the time!

Steep your coarsely ground coffee in cold water for 12 to 24 hours to prepare cold brew coffee.

Further reading: Top Best Coffee Makers for Use with Hard Water

Flavor- Cold Brew Takes It All

The flavor of both coffee types we owe to their preparatory techniques.

We love the fast preparation that iced coffee affords, but with that speed comes less flavor. What do we mean?

coffee cold brew

When the hot coffee cools, you add ice (to form iced coffee); after a while, the ice begins to melt, which dilutes the flavor of your coffee in the end.

Additionally, using hot water to prepare it gives ice tea that conventional bitter coffee taste.

However, with the preparation of cold brew, the flavor of the coffee remains strong and undiluted. You get a smoother and sweeter coffee.

Ground Coffee Size- Cold Brew for The Money

The grind size of your coffee is significant when it comes to these cold coffee types.

The grind size determines how the ground coffee absorbs and filters water. The size varies from medium to coarse for iced coffee since it uses a hot brewing process.

For cold brew, the particles are usually coarse. Since the coffee grind is marinated in cold water, rough grind size helps prevent over-extraction. This is what takes away the bitter taste you experience with iced coffee.

Expiration Time- Cold Brew for The Long Haul

Sadly, iced coffee has a faster expiration time. When hot coffee starts cooling, it begins to go stale; this begins to happen 30minutes after brewing.

When your coffee is at room temperature, its remaining oils are already losing flavor, and it’ll just be well- yuck!

cold brew coffee

In about 4 hours, the taste of your coffee becomes unrecognizable. The pouring of hot coffee over ice even fastens the deterioration rate.

On the other hand, cold brew is for the long haul. Depending on the storage method, quantity, and concentration, it can last up to 2 weeks.

For example, if you make a highly concentrated large quantity of cold brew coffee, it means for every cup of coffee, you need to dilute it.

The more concentrated it is, the longer it stays.

Caffeine Content and Health- Cold Brew for Life

Before we roll out evidence of why cold brew coffee is better, let’s point out that both coffees have low-calorie counts.

Now, let’s talk about their health differences.

caffeine in coffee

Iced coffee tends to be acidic because it’s not brewed delicately with time as a cold brew. So, if your customers have delicate stomachs, iced coffee might be too rough on their bellies.

On the bright side, iced coffee has less caffeine when compared with cold brew.

Cold-brewed coffee is less acidic and more gentle on sensitive stomachs. Its caffeine level is higher, though, so it might be an issue for those with caffeine sensitivity.

The good news is you can alter the amount of caffeine by adjusting the coffee to water ratio.

This means:

  • Less caffeine = more water + less coffee
  • More caffeine = more coffee + less water

Feel free to bump up the yummy levels for both coffees by adding milk, creamer, or any sweetener.

So, if you are confused about cold brew vs. iced coffee caffeine, know that cold brew has more caffeine, but the caffeine can be managed.

These differences are apparent to coffee lovers. With this knowledge, even coffee brands like Starbucks and Dunkin create fantastic cold coffee.

Cold Brew Vs. Iced Coffee Dunkin

At Dunkin, their cold brew coffee is crafted by hand, and the coffee is steeped in alcohol for 12hours. The result?

A rich, smooth, sweet coffee is produced, with a flavor resembling dark chocolate.

In comparison, Dunkin iced coffee is made from double brewing. So, the amount of the coffee is doubled, then cooled before it’s poured over ice.

This double brewing process gives rise to a rich, balanced coffee without flavor compromise. The coffee gives off nutty and caramel tones.

Starbucks Cold Brew Vs. Iced Coffee

Starbucks is a coffee legend, so we can only expect the best coffee experience with them.

Starbucks cold brew is also steeped in cold water to produce sweet chocolate flavored coffee that’s smooth and aromatic.

starbucks cold brew vs iced coffee

Their iced coffee is made with double strength and filtered with water off the boil. This gives a medium, balanced flavor of cola and caramel in coffee.

There you have it! Now you know what your favorite coffee shops do to produce the most satisfactory coffee experience just for you.

We’ll answer a couple of questions you might have asked about iced coffee vs. cold brew.

FAQ About Iced Coffee and Cold Brew

Is cold brew coffee just cold coffee?

No, cold brew is more than just cold coffee. Cold Brew is coffee steeped in cold water for hours to extract the finest of cool flavors coffee beans offer.

Why is cold brew coffee so expensive?

This is simple, the brewing process takes more time, using more coffee. What is worth doing is worth doing well, right?

Is cold brew healthier than hot coffee?

Cold Brew coffee is as healthy as hot coffee. The caffeine level might be higher, but it has fantastic health benefits.

Is It Possible to prevent my iced coffee from having a bland taste without doubling the concentration?

Ice will always melt, but there is something you can try. You can freeze coffee in an ice tray and use it as the ice for iced coffee instead of using water cubes.

Final Thoughts

Coffee is an excellent, flavored drink; whether iced coffee vs. cold brew depends solely on your preference.

If you like to enjoy your coffee cooled with the hints of regular coffee flavors, then you are an Iced coffee fan.

On the other hand, if you prefer something less bitter, more robust, and flavorful, by all means, lay your hands on some cold brew. Happy summers!


  • https://stories.starbucks.com/stories/2017/cold-brew-iced-coffee/
  • https://news.dunkindonuts.com/blog/difference-between-dunkin-iced-coffee-cold-brew
  • https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/cold-brew-coffee-benefits#TOC_TITLE_HDR_5

I’m Jennifer Schlette, a Registered Dietitian and Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. I love cooking, reading, and my kids! Here you’ll find the healthiest recipes & substitutions for your cooking. Enjoy, and be well, friends!

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