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

It’s the brewing that matters
Cold Brew Coffee

Shutterstock/ Brent Hofacker

There’s a pretty big difference between the two.

Cold coffee comes down to much more than ice cubes. There are many ways to enjoy a chilly cup of Joe, but the one of the most popular is in the form of an iced coffee.

In regards to cold coffee, Starbucks recently ventured into a new form of this classic favorite: cold brew coffee. From the looks of it, cold brew doesn’t seem much different from iced coffee, right? Surprisingly, it is, and the dissimilarity all comes down to the brewing process.

According to the Coffee Concierge, “iced coffee” and “cold brew coffee” are used interchangeably. In most cases, though, if you’re ordering an iced coffee, it’s probably not cold brewed.

When preparing iced coffee, the biggest difference between the two begins with the first step: the brewing. When you prepare iced coffee, you brew it with hot water, as you usually would with hot coffee. Then, you place it in the refrigerator and let it sit for a few hours. Once you’ve done this, you can pour it over ice and enjoy it with milk, sugar, or anything else you’d like.

In regards to cold brew coffee, the immersion method is the most common. Make sure you are brewing your coffee with cold water instead of hot. This may seem fairly simple, but this tiny step produces a pretty big difference in taste. Some say cold brew tastes crisp and more refreshing, and, it’s stronger. Well, this all depends on how you make it.

To prepare it the right way, combine your ground coffee with cold water in a large-sized pot. Stir it and place it in the fridge overnight or for the entire day (Coffee Concierge suggests at least 12 hours). Finally, filter your coffee concentrate with a large paper or cloth. Feel free to add any sweeteners, just as you would with iced coffee.

Whether you prefer iced coffee or a refreshing cold brew, be sure to follow these steps for the best results. Happy brewing!

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