Iced Coffee vs. Cold Brew - What's The Difference?
You're likely already familiar with iced coffee, but cold brew has stomped onto the coffee scene in a big way and is holding its own as the latest trend for caffeine fiends. But what is the difference between the two? Though they may look and sound similar, the process for creating these two drinks is quite dissimilar, resulting in a stark contrast in the way they taste. Let's take a closer look at these two chilly cousins.
How To Make Iced Coffee
Iced coffee is the cold coffee beverage that most people are familiar with - it's basically cold coffee, right? Well, sort of. While you could pour the dregs of this morning's coffee over a glass of ice and call it iced coffee, that's not technically the way it's supposed to be done (and it won't taste as good, either!) Good, flavorful iced coffee is brewed like regular coffee, extra strong, and then cooled immediately by pouring over ice. Letting the coffee sit around for too long before icing and sipping will allow it to oxidize which can create some unpleasant features in the flavor. Iced coffee is often served sweetened and/or with a splash of cream or milk to mellow out the bitterness.
How To Make Cold Brew Coffee
Instead of using hot water, cold brew coffee is brewed with "cold" (often room temperature) water. To make cold brew coffee, coarse grinds are left to steep in the water at least 12 hours, often longer, and then filtered out. The resulting coffee is often served over ice as is or diluted with a bit water or milk depending on the concentration of the original brew. Making cold brew coffee takes some time and advanced planning, one reason why ordering cold brew at your local coffee shop will set you back a bit more than a basic iced coffee. Some shops prefer to use specialized beans for their cold brew, which is another reason for the additional cost.
Does Cold Brew Taste Like Iced Coffee?
Because the method for making both beverages is so different, the flavor is as well. Cold brew has a marked reduction in acidity and bitterness that results in an ultra smooth and full-bodied flavor. Iced coffee tastes just like your regular morning cup of Joe that's been iced down... you'll still have that bitter kick just like a hot mug of java. I may be biased, but the flavor of cold brew just can't be compared to iced coffee. While I'm not one to drink black coffee (and I'm not a fan of iced coffee at all), I can easily kick back a tall glass of cold brew without any additional sweetening, though my favorite way to enjoy it is with just a splash of milk or cream. It's a game changer in the world of cold coffee drinks and if you haven't had a chance to give it a try yet, I insist that you do so.
How Do I Enjoy Cold Brew At Home?
There's no fancy equipment needed to create your own cold brew at home, provided you allow time for the long steeping period. Recipes like this one detail how you can make your own cold brew at home using regular coarse coffee grinds. But what's even easier is that you can now purchase bottled cold brew concentrates, like this one from Caveman Coffee Co. If you've become a recent
addict convert to cold brew like me and my husband, then having a bottle of concentrate in your fridge means you're just seconds away from a glass of the delicious chilled caffeinated nectar without the long brew time.
What Does Cold Brew Concentrate Taste Like?
Caveman Coffee Co. recommends mixing 1 part concentrate to 3 parts water. Knowing that I like strong coffee, I added a tad less water than recommended for a stronger flavor. I then served it the same way that I would order it from my favorite coffee shop - over ice with a splash of milk, and it was awesome. It had a nice strong kick and that smooth mellow cold brew flavor that I love so much. Bonus points for the fact that it came out of a bottle in my refrigerator and I didn't have to drive to a coffee shop or spend 16 hours brewing it myself. In addition to their concentrates, Caveman also sells 100% coconut MCT oil that they recommend adding to their coffees for an extra, long-lasting energy kick (add some grass-fed butter as well if you'd like to take part in the new "bulletproof coffee" fad)
Have you tried cold brew, either from a coffee shop, homemade, or from a bottled concentrate? Let me know in the comments!
Caveman Coffee Co. provided us with a sample of their concentrate and MCT to try. We do not accept free product or compensation in return for a fully positive review. Remember our motto: if it sucks, we'll tell ya!