Battle of the Brews: Cold Brew vs. Iced Coffee

by / ⠀NatureBox / August 5, 2020

Cold Brew vs Iced Coffee

It’s a hot one this summer! And that means many of us are ditching our habitual hot cups of Joe for something a little more refreshing. But what if we told you there’s no need to ditch coffee altogether when you have alternatives to your favorite pour-over that are just as good.

Those alternatives? Cold brew and iced coffee! If you’re wondering which one is better, it’s a question we had too. So let’s get into what each one is and you can decide for yourself.

What is cold brew?

Let’s start by getting technical. “Cold brewing is the process of steeping coffee grounds in water at cool temperatures for an extended period.” How long, you may be asking? It takes about 12-24 hours of steeping your beans to reach the level where it’s time to filter the grounds. This is commonly done with a coffee filter, sieve, or a French press. While the water is normally kept at room temperature, you can also use water from the fridge.

If you’re not into making it yourself, there are a few popular brands that offer pre-made cold-brew concentrates that make it easy to grab and go:

Now that we’ve covered what cold brew is, let’s dive into iced coffee.

What is iced coffee?

Let’s get the boring part out of the way first. “Iced coffee is a type of coffee beverage served chilled.” Chilled doesn’t necessarily mean over ice, but that’s the most common way. And a huge part of what makes iced coffee, iced coffee? It’s brewed hot.

Pretty straightforward. It’s your typical cup of Joe served over ice. Any roast or brand of beans can be used, which means you can go wild with any combination of the two. A cool (get it?) tip we have is to make sure you use quality ice. Since it’s ½ of an iced coffee recipe… it’s an underrated ingredient that can make or break the drink.

Now that we’re clear on what both cold brew and iced coffee are, let’s dig into the differences between the two.

What makes them different?

If you’ve ever tried to make cold brew by chilling your hot coffee in the fridge… you know it’s just not the same. The taste is different and there’s even a chemical difference as well. But if you haven’t ever done that and you can’t seem to tell the two types of coffee apart, there are three key differences between them: temperature, taste, and time.


Iced coffee is brewed hot. Cold brew is brewed… cold. 


Cold brew is generally a fairly mellow flavor, has a more “rounded out” taste, and is slightly less acidic than iced coffee. Iced coffee has a smooth, light, and refreshing taste with a bit of bitterness. 


Iced coffee typically takes less than 5 minutes to make. It’s a great option if you’re running out the door. Prep time for cold brew? 12-24 hours, which means that patience is required. But we all know good things take time and that’s definitely the case with cold brew. 

The winner

It’s high time you switched out your hot cup of drip with something more suited for the summer months, and cold brew is a great alternative. And if you need some convincing to make the switch, look no further.

Go with a cold brew if you’re looking to spice up your coffee routine. You likely aren’t drinking it often and it’s nice to mix up your go-to drink, especially while things are feeling pretty mundane. And if you’re looking for a drink with low acidity… go with a cold brew. The low acidity (bye-bye heartburn!) will make going back to regular coffee a tough decision.

Already made the switch? Share your favorite cold brew brands or recipes in the comments below.

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