Cold Brew vs Iced Coffee: What’s the difference and which is better?

Here is my comparison of cold brew vs iced coffee

Actually, many people find both of these two a same drink, yes they have some common similarities, but they aren’t exactly the same.

The key difference between cold brew and iced is water temperature and time. Cold brew is made with room temperature water for 8-24 hours, whereas iced coffee is made with hot brew coffee and served over ice.

In this article, I will share every small to significant aspects with you so that you can decide for yourself which one will be a better option for me.

What Is Cold Brew Coffee?

Cold brew is actually an immersion type of brewing method where cold or room-temperature water is used to make your cup of joe.

In this heatless process, water and coffee grounds are steeped together for a prolonged period in an air-tight container.

Unlike hot brew, cold brew is a patience and time game, where the slower extraction results in flavorful and more pungent coffee.

But it is never meant that cold brew coffee can be consumed only cold. You also drink it as hot coffee; just warm it up in a carafe and enjoy!

What Is Iced Coffee?

Iced coffee is a type of drink that is made using from hot brewing method. So, it is actually a chilled and refreshing version of your favorite coffee. Some examples of iced coffee are; Iced Americano, Iced Mocha, Iced Macchiato, etc.

It is generally prepared at a higher brew ratio because when we add ice it’ll melt down and dilutes the coffee.

Also, Mazagran was the first original iced coffee, which originated in 1840 in Algeria that was made from coffee syrup and cold water – according to the locals.

Cold Brew vs Iced Coffee

We’ve now discussed what these coffees are, so now let’s get into the main section of the article, i.e. what is the actual difference between these two.

Brewing Method

Cold brew can be made in two ways; batch brew (concentrate) and ready-to-drink cold brew. The only difference between concentrate and regular cold brew is the coffee-to-water ratio.

A concentrate is brewed with a higher coffee-to-water ratio which is between 1:1-1:3 compared to a normal one which uses a 1:8 coffee-to-water ratio.

For cold brew, it is always recommended to use coarsely ground coffee because if you brew it with finer ones, your coffee will be over-extracted and taste bitter.

But apart from all these, what makes cold brew a cold brew is the temperature of the water and time; the cold brew requires cold or room temperature water & takes 8-24 hours of brewing time, where we leave coffee grounds and water together for infusion.

Now, iced coffee can be made with any brewing method – so it will take coffee-to-water ratio, grind size, water temperature and time according to the method.

For example, if you are brewing with the french press method, then the ideal brew ratio will be 1:15 at medium coarse grind settings, 195-205°F water temperature and 4-5 minutes of time and so on for other drinks.

But before drinking, iced coffee needs to be cooled, either at room temperature or in a refrigerator and finally served with ice.

However, a cold brew can be drunk cold or hot, depending on your choice – if you want it hot, warm it up in a carafe or microwave oven.


Cold brew coffee tastes mellow, full-bodied and has chocolatey notes; also, it is stronger and bolder in flavor.

This is because cold brew coffee takes the longest to prepare, so it also extracts those flavors which are difficult to release and is very difficult in the case of hot brew.

Also, many people prefer to drink it naturally and don’t want to add any sweeteners as it is less bitter in taste, but if you brew it for more than 18 hours, then it starts to develop some bitter notes.

Iced coffee, on the other hand, has bold and bitter flavors and is slightly more acidic because the extraction process is hotter and much faster. But it has light and floral notes, which are only found in hot brewed coffee.

Also, iced coffee is comparatively less potent than other coffee due to melting ice. However, you can make coffee ice cubes instead of water to balance out the flavors.

Also, for maximizing flavors you are not only restricted to the coffee itself; you can add a whole lot of toppings to these drinks to make them more flavorful, like cream, whole or plant-based milk, syrups and many more.

But remember, coffee beans like arabica and robusta, roast type and brewing ratios also play critical roles in determining the flavors.


When the cold brew or the iced coffee goes stale will totally depend upon how you store it and consume it.

Although cold brew coffee may take longer to make, it is also the coffee that lasts the longest.

If you are storing the cold brew coffee in an air-tight container in a refrigerator, then it can last up to 14 days. However, the cold brew gradually starts losing its punchiness after one week mark.

And if you are just keeping it at room temperature, it will only last hardly about 2-3 days.

On the flip side, iced coffee has a way less life span, so it is always better to finish it within 30-45 minutes after brewing.

Because iced coffee has two demerits; hot brew coffee and melting ice cubes.

And once the beverage’s temperature returns to normal from chilled, then within 1-2 hours, the coffee will go bad.

Because the leftover oils in the coffee will start making differences in the taste and also you will get a much weakened & watery savor due to melted ice, overall awful taste.

Just simply remember one thing, you can’t brew and store iced coffee; just simply treat it like any other hot brew one, where there is no option to store them for a few days.

However, iced coffee is quicker to make, so there is a vice-versa between less time and life span; the less time to make, the shorter it lasts and the more time to brew, the more it lasts.

Also, if you add any extra toppings to both drinks, like milk, cream, extra flavors or sweeteners, then the life of the beverages is further reduced.

Healthier Option

Which is a more healthier option – an essential consideration factor for health freaks.

In terms of caffeine in both drinks, it depends upon several factors like beans and brewing method, but in general, cold brew coffee has comparatively more caffeine than other types of regular drinks.

Also, the longer the cold brew infuses in water, the more caffeine it will extract and as I had discussed in the flavor section, it will taste more bitter.

However, if you are going to have an iced coffee made from espresso and aeropress method, then they have more caffeine than the cold brew.

I’ve also mentioned some of the preparation methods and their caffeine content below, which came after the caffeine laboratory test.

Preparation Method

Caffeine Content (mg)

Serving Size (ml)

Cold brew, 8 hours


250 ml

Cold brew, 24 hours


250 ml



250 ml

French press


250 ml

Drip coffee machine


250 ml







Now come to calories, an average cup of black coffee has an almost negligible amount of calories with no fat.

But if you add any extra mix-ups or add-ons in your coffee in the form of milk, cream, chocolate, nuts, flavors like vanilla or caramel and sweeteners.

Then no doubt your drink will be more delicious but definitely, you are going to consume a lot of calories and fat.

And there is nothing that differentiates between cold brew and iced coffee; it is up to you how you manage your calories.

Now it’s the turn of antioxidant level and acidity; the antioxidant and acidity levels of both hot and cold brew are almost the same until dark roast comes into play.

According to the researchers at Thomas Jefferson University, hot brew coffee with darker roast coffee extract 7% more antioxidants than cold brew, but the pH of both brewing methods remains the same for an equivalent roast.

However, the more you go from the lighter to the darker roast, the less acidic your coffee will become, but the hot brew has more certain kinds of acids and total dissolved solids.


Cold Brew vs Iced Coffee: Which Is Better?

Which one is the better option is something that totally depends upon person to person and especially the situation.

I’ve discussed with you all the major differentiating points; now it’s up to you what you are craving for.

Remember, cold brew takes much longer to prepare, so if you want chilled coffee, then make it in advance because it has a longer life span, and if your stock is empty, then between two, you have only one option left, i.e. iced coffee made from the hot brew coffee and ice cubes.

Also, consider one on your health conditions; if you are suffering from GERD or IBS symptoms, then avoid iced coffee as it is comparatively more acidic.

But if you haven’t tried any of these two, then I definitely recommend you to brew both one by one and taste what works best for you.

coffee types


Shaif Ahmed

Shaif Ahmed

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We are at “Elijah Coffee” group of people who love coffe and have something to say about it :-)


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