What Is The Difference Between Cold Brew and Iced Coffee?

by Jahasia Cooper Updated: August 25, 2023 5 min read
CLICK HERE to subscribe to our newsletter for exclusive promotions and regular updates on everything coffee!

Cold brew and iced coffee have been a topic of debate within the coffee community. Cold brew is seen as the pretentious hipster drink while iced coffee is the reliable go-to drink for your everyday coffee drinker. Whatever your preference is, we’re digging into the details and differences between cold brew and iced coffee, in the end, who will reign supreme?

“...think of cold brew as traditional iced coffee’s unhurried fraternal twin.” — Bobby Finger

De'Longhi Dinamica and a Glass of Iced Coffee

Some espresso machines like the De'Longhi Dinamica have dedicated iced coffee functions.

What Is The Difference Between Cold Brew and Iced Coffee?

New York Times writer Bobby Finger wrote, “Cold brew can’t go a day without a long, luxurious bath, while iced coffee can barely swing a quick shower.” Cold Brew has become the preferred iced caffeinated beverage by many coffee drinkers on hot summer days. The heatless-brewed iced drink involves an overnight process that can take up to 24 hours to achieve a beverage that is low in acidity and bursting with flavor.

Regular iced coffee is the lone star in the coffee community. It’s a traditional favorite relied on by pre-caffeinated coffee drinkers as they rush out the door on busy summer mornings, maybe it’s even undervalued because of the popularity of its “unhurried fraternal twin”, whatever it is iced coffee is made via a process that you’re probably most familiar with. The coffee is brewed hot, poured over ice and there you have a refreshing start to your day. It’s a much less time-consuming process and is often the go-to for traditional coffee drinkers.

Primula Cold Brew Coffee Maker

So why is cold brew stealing the limelight? Here are a couple of things that we’ve come across:

  • Higher Caffeine Content - Depending on the brand, cold brew can have twice as much caffeine compared to your traditional iced coffee. What lacks in acidity, makes up for the caffeine content in this iced beverage - you might want to think twice if you need that extra kick of caffeine before purchasing your next coffee.
  • It’s Easier to Make - Although making cold brew at home can be a long process and requires some preparation before you’re walking on sunshine out the house, many cold brew drinkers love the idea of not needing as much equipment to make cold brew. No machines required (unless you prefer to grind your own beans, of course). Just a pitcher, ice, coffee grounds, and cold water, then it’s the waiting game until you’ve got yourself days worth of iced coffee. Plus, compared to iced coffee which tastes best within the first day of brewing it, cold brew can last up to two weeks and still have its smooth and bitterless taste.
  • Flavor - At the end of the day, most coffee drinkers are looking for the burst of flavor that brightens our day. Cold brew is said to be a full-bodied coffee with natural and chocolaty flavor notes and satisfies the taste palettes of coffee drinkers who aren’t fans of the traditional bitterness of regular iced coffee.

Iced coffee is a beloved favorite in the coffee community. One of the greatest aspects that so many of us love in this flavorful drink is that it takes less than 15 minutes to make and still maintains all of the delicious flavors that you would normally enjoy with your hot coffee. You’re consuming your normal amount of caffeine, it’s more affordable than cold brew, and it has a balanced and aromatic taste.

As a coffee enthusiast myself, I have to go with the traditional iced coffee. Not only is it cheaper, but I love my hot coffee just right and a great cup of Joe can really make my day. If I’m going to enjoy iced coffee, I appreciate being able to enjoy the same flavors that I would normally enjoy in my hot coffee.

You Might Be Interested In
Single-Origin Coffee: How Location Affects Flavor

Single-Origin Coffee: How Location Affects Flavor

What is single-origin coffee? How does origin affect the flavor of your coffee beans? We answer all of your questions and more in this article.
Read Article

How To Make Iced Coffee

The best way to make a flavorful and refreshing iced coffee is to have a machine that is made to brew delicious and refreshing iced coffee—a machine that has modern technology to whip up an iced coffee at the right temperature and with the right flavors. DeLonghi’s La Specialista and Braun's Multiserve machines are perfect for you if a one-stop-shop machine for hot coffee, iced coffee, espresso, and milk-based drinks sound like a dream.

What Is The Difference Between Cold Brew and Iced Coffee?

DeLonghi Dinamica ECAM35020W Espresso Machine

2 Reviews
The De'Longhi Dinamica is an automatic espresso machine with world-first tech for brewing iced coffee. Expect smooth, full-bodied iced coffees that are never watered down and specialty drinks that you could swear came from the cafe.

The innovative True Brew technology on the Dinamica gives users the option to brew iced coffee in minutes at the touch of a button. A member of DeLonghi’s expert team described the Dinamica as the world’s first fully automatic machine to brew iced coffee at the touch of a button. Add a couple of ice cubes to your favorite mug, press a button and kick your feet back to watch the magic happen. The Dinamica lowers the temperature of the coffee while brewing with a longer pre-infusion.

If you’re a simple barista and you prefer to stick to the basics of home-brewing coffee, let’s take a quick look at a drip coffeemaker that’s changing the game.

What Is The Difference Between Cold Brew and Iced Coffee?

Braun KF9150 MultiServe Brewing System - Black

Owning the Braun KF9150 MultiServe Brewing System - Black Drip coffee has become more innovative in the past decade and Braun has proven just that with the Braun Multiserve Brewing System. The Brau...

Drip coffee has become more innovative in the past decade and Braun has proven just that with the Braun Multiserve. The Braun Multiserve wears the cape for all coffee lovers. It can brew a full or half-sized carafe of golden cup, SCA certified hot or iced coffee in 8 minutes. If brunch is on the calendar, rest assured that the Braun Multiserve will deliver the golden standard for home-brewed iced coffee for you and your guests flawlessly.

How To Make Cold Brew Coffee

Iced coffee might be much quicker to make but cold brew is perfect for people who don’t have tons of tools in their kitchen and want to make a refreshing beverage with tools that they may already have. Here’s what you’ll need:


French Press - We used an 8-cup Bodum Chambord French Press

Mason Jar or another container

Fresh whole bean coffee (preferably dark roast)


  • Grind about 5 oz (2 cups) of coffee until you have a coarse consistency and add it to your french press
  • Add 3 cups of cold water and give it a gentle stir
  • Let it sit at room temperature for about 15 hours
  • Plunge the coffee and you’ve got a refreshing cold brew coffee
What Is The Difference Between Cold Brew and Iced Coffee?

Bodum Unbreakable Chambord Coffee Press 8 Cup

1 Reviews
The Bodum Chambord is the first French press Bodum introduced to the market, inspired by Normandy craftsmen.

The Final Verdict

Maybe you’re reading through this and you’re thinking “Hm, maybe I’ll stick with iced coffee” or “I think I’ll give cold brew a shot!”. Whatever you decide to go with, here’s something to think about: one of the best things about being in the coffee and espresso community is trying out new flavors that you just might love (or hate). Whether or not you decide to make cold brew your new preferred iced beverage or leave it to the hipster coffee drinkers is entirely up to you and your flavor palette!

If reading this made you crave a refreshing caffeinated beverage, check out our articles on how to make a delicious Sunset Cold Brew Lemonade or try these 3 Iced Coffee Recipes That Will Change Your Coffee-Making Game This Summer below!

How to Make a Sunset Cold Brew Lemonade

How to Make a Sunset Cold Brew Lemonade

We have been on a roll with these delicious summer drink recipes for you all and just when we thought we were finished we thought you would all enjoy a refreshing and fruity Sunset Cold Brew Lemonade.
Read Article
3 Iced Coffee Recipes that Will Change your Coffee-Making Game this Summer

3 Iced Coffee Recipes that Will Change your Coffee-Making Game this Summer

Summer is finally here and you might be looking for more ways to get better use out of your coffee machine. Here at the Whole Latte Love office, we’ve been wondering about all the ways you can level-up your coffee-making game this summer. 
Read Article