If you are one of those people who doesn’t like a hot beverage or who just wants a cold one on a hot day, then you need to know the difference between a cold brew and an iced coffee.

There is a major difference and it depends on how they are brewed, the types of beans that are used, and much more. It is important that you know everything there is to know about how to make your own iced beverage or even a cold brew depending on what you want to enjoy.

No matter what type of cold coffee beverage you want to enjoy you need to know what they are, the brewing methods, how you can enjoy them, and much more. Here is our comprehensive guide to help you to learn about cold brew and iced coffee, so keep reading on to find out more.


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Definitions to Know

cold brew vs Iced Coffee

You need to know that the cold brew is referred to when the coffee is being processed, which might not be your final product. This is when the beans, which are ground coarsely, are then soaked in some water for around 12 or longer.

This would allow the beans to soak into the water and create a flavorful, yet aromatic beverage that is cold brew. This is going to be able to be served as is or you can heat it up and serve it as a hot beverage.

The iced coffee is when the beans are brewed using hot water, which gives you the flavor before it is turned into a cold drink. After the brew is completed, then it is normally poured over some ice or even blended with some milk or other cold ingredients to cool it down.

This means that you aren’t going to have as strong of a brew that you might have if you were to use the cold brew method from the start.


Method of Brewing

If you are trying to make cold brew you are going to need to make sure that you have your beans ready first. This could be whole beans that you had roasted beforehand and then ground yourself or pre-ground based on what you prefer.

Once this is done you are going to need a large enough container to hold a few tablespoons of the ground beans and a good amount of water. This needs to sit in room temperature or cold water for at least 12 hours to extract the caffeine, oils, and sugars.

If you are going for an iced coffee, then the process for brewing it is going to be much simpler. First, you are going to need to start off with the bean that you want, which should be ground and it can be brewed by any type of machine.

Once the brew is finished, then you are going to want to pour that hot cup of joe over some ice, but make sure that you are using a large enough mug to hold all of the liquid.


Pros and Cons to Know

There are going to be pros and cons of both brewing methods that you need to know about. Some of these for cold brewing includes:

Pros & Cons

  • Stronger caffeine levels
  • Stronger flavor without diluting it
  • Can be used in a wide variety of drinks
  • Lower levels of acidity
  • Smoother taste
  • Helps in lifting your mood
  • Takes longer
  • Requires a large container


These are only a few of the things that you need to know about cold brewing and you should also know the same for an iced brew. These are definitely things that you need to know since it can determine what type of cold drink you are going to go for. Some of the top pros and cons to be aware of are:

Pros & Cons

  • Fast
  • Easy to make
  • Coffee flavor can be diluted
  • Can have flavors added easily without affecting the taste too much
  • Doesn’t require any fancy containers or strainers to make
  • Doesn’t have as much caffeine
  • Can have higher acidity levels


Go ahead and consider these when you are trying to decide which option is going to work the best for you and your needs.


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Materials Needed to Make Cold Brew or Iced Coffee

cold brew vs Iced Coffee

No matter what type of beverage you are going to make there are going to be some materials that would be the same for both. Some of these materials include:

  • Grinder – If you are buying the beans whole you are going to need to have a grinder handy. This would allow you to grind up your beans fresh so that you can get the full aroma and flavor daily. This also allows you to determine the grind texture of the beans depending on what you are going to be making.
  • Beans – You also want to have the beans ready, so make sure that you have one of your favorite varieties on hand. This would make it easier for you to enjoy them fresh, so make sure that you are making them into smaller batches. The smaller the batches that you are the easier it will be for you to pull them out as needed and grind them in a fresh manner.
  • Filters – Also, you are going to need filters because either way, the ground beans are going to need to be caught. You should have a filter if you are using the machine and it can easily be put inside, but if you are doing cold brew you want a larger one. Think about one that would be able to easily hold all of the grinds without any problem and that you can just throw away or wash.
  • Container – If you are making cold brew you want to have a large container ready and it should ideally be glass. It should be large enough to hold the amount of brew that you want to make and it needs to fit either inside the fridge or in a corner where it won’t get tipped over. The bigger the container you have, then the more brew you can make, and the longer you can store it.
  • Ice – If you are going to use ice for your iced beverage or even for the cold brew you are going to want to have some handy. If you don’t want the flavor to be diluted, then you should brew some extra a few hours ahead of time so that you can freeze it into ice cubes. This will help to keep the flavor strong as the ice cubes are melting, but you can use regular ice cubes if you want the flavor to dilute over time.
  • Mugs – You would also want to ensure that you have plenty of mugs handy and you should have some that are on the large side. The large you have, then the easier it will be because the amount of liquid is going to increase as the ice cubes melt if you aren’t drinking it quickly. Ensure that there will be enough space for the extra liquid and that you won’t make a huge mess while you are pouring it.
  • Measuring items – You also need to have measuring items ready since you are going to want to make sure that you are using the right ratio. It really depends on how much you want to make and what you are going to make it for. If you are making it at home and you want to make around 4 cups of it at a time, then you should be adding ¼ pound of grounds beans.
  • Additional ingredients – The last thing that you should have handy are any additional ingredients that you might want to add to your beverage. If you are making iced coffee, then you might want to have some milk, sugar, flavoring syrups or anything else ready. If they are already at hand, then you can make your drink much quicker without worrying about anything.
  • Machine – If you are going for an iced coffee, then the easiest way to do that is to have a drip based machine ready to brew the coffee. This would allow for you to get everything else ready while the brew is being processed and then you can figure out the size of a mug that you might need.

Ensure that you have all of this ready when you are considering which of these cold beverages you are going to have. They both require a few of the same materials, but there are some that would only be needed if you are making cold brew, while there are others that you might need for an iced coffee.


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Frequently Asked Questions

cold brew vs Iced Coffee

There are also plenty of questions that people have when it comes to which of these beverages they would enjoy the most. Here are some of the top questions that you must know the answers to, such as:

  • Which one should I go for if I want a higher level of caffeine?

If you are looking for a higher level of caffeine, then you would want to go with the cold brew. Depending on how it is used after was brewed it would have a much higher level of caffeine than the iced ones.

  • Which one works better with flavoring syrups?

If you are interested in adding some flavoring syrups, then you might want to go with an iced coffee. This is because you can easily mix in the flavoring syrups in a way that you won’t notice them and you won’t affect the flavor of the coffee either.

  • Do I need to keep my cold brew container in the fridge?

While you are letting the ground beans and the water infuse you don’t necessarily need to keep it in the fridge. However, you should keep it in the fridge after you have strained the ground beans out and it can remain in the fridge for around 1 week. Before you use it after a few days make sure that you are smelling it to ensure that it smells good before you start using it.

  • Why do I need to use a larger mug when making iced coffee at home?

You are always going to want to have a larger mug handy when you are making iced coffee at home. This is because you are going to be placing the ice cubes into the mug and then pouring the brew over it. Once you do this quite a bit of the ice cubes would melt, which means more liquid and if you don’t have a bigger mug it might overflow.

  • How do I avoid dilution when using ice cubes?

If you want to enjoy the current strength of your cold brew or iced coffee one of the ways that you can do this is by using coffee-based ice cubes. You should do this in advance so they are frozen and when they melt they will infuse your beverage with even more coffee rather than a watered-down taste from typical ice cubes.


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Final Thoughts

It is extremely important that you know the difference between an iced coffee and a cold brew when it comes to deciding which one is going to work the best for you. These aren’t the same even though they are cold beverages and it can be easy to confuse them, but the cold brew sits in the beans for a longer period.

Make sure that you have all of the required materials ready and at hand so that you create your own perfect cup of brew to enjoy. No matter what you enjoy something cold is never going to go amiss on a hot day, so make sure that you are deciding which one you like the best. If you want something that is stronger and less diluted, then should