Iced Coffee Vs. Cold Brew
It’s that time of year where we pull out our cold brewers and ice cube trays for some cool coffee treats. Staying caffeinated and cool isn’t so hard, but you might be wondering what the real difference is between iced coffee and cold brew. We’ve got your back, with an explanation of each method right here!
Iced Coffee is as simple as it sounds. You start with brewed coffee and simply add ice. The trick is in the way you add the ice without diluting the coffee too much, because simply brewing over ice will lead to lukewarm coffee as the ice melts. On the other hand, using cool water with a pour over or press won’t cause the coffee to bond with the water effectively unless allowed to steep (see the cold brew section!). There are a few ways you can mitigate this, and they offer varying flavors.
First, you can just brew coffee over ice. The trick here is adjusting your water to coffee ratio to account for the melting ice in the coffee. This also means that your flavor profile will differ a bit because you’re really brewing a concentrate that is being instantly diluted. Some machines, like the Breville Precision Brewer, have brew settings that help with this.
The other option is to brew coffee in a glass carafe, then remove it from heat and let it sit until it reaches room temperature. This can feel counterintuitive, but when removed from heat, coffee can cool quickly enough that you won’t lose its freshness in the process. Then you simply pour the lukewarm coffee over ice, and it will melt slower than if you brew over the ice.
Both methods can lead to tasty iced coffee, so it’s worth experimenting with both, and with different coffee ratios and recipes to find what works for you!
Over the past decade, cold brew has risen to prominence as a fantastic way to drink cold coffee. And there’s a reason for that! As noted above, cooler water takes longer to bond with coffee molecules. You can achieve this with colder water by giving it a longer steep time. There are some fantastic brewers that help you do this, such as the Toddy Cold Brew System. Systems like this use a filter and valve to allow coffee to steep for a long time (such as overnight) and then be drained from the brewer. The result is ready to drink cold brew, or cold brew concentrate that can be diluted with water, depending on the ratio of water to coffee used. Some simple, grab n’ go options that brew for portability are brew bottles like those that Primula offers.
Other cold brewing methods include brewers like the Bruer Slow Drip Cold Brewer.This brewer emulates the slow drip cold brewing method that’s popular in Japan. By modulating flow rate, you can get different flavors as the cold water slowly drips through the grounds.
No matter what kind of cold coffee method you use, the principles of each are simple. Iced Coffee refers to hot brewed coffee cooled down to room temp and then poured over ice. Cold brew methods refer to coffee that is actually brewed slowly with room temperature water. Both offer unique flavor profiles and are delicious with a splash of milk or cream. Give both methods a try this cold coffee season!