If you’re a coffee beginner who’s just recently learned the difference between lattes and cappuccinos (it’s all in the milk, people), it’s reasonable if you’re baffled by the difference between iced coffee and cold brew. Despite the fact that both beverages seem identical, are chilled enough to cool you down on a hot day, and are served on the rocks, cold brew appears to cost far more than its counterpart. What’s going on?
Michael Phillips, head of Coffee Culture at Blue Bottle Coffee, a speciality coffee roaster and retailer, breaks down all you need to know about cold brew vs. iced coffee to help you determine which cup is best for you and your preferences.
Iced Coffee vs. Cold Brew Coffee Brewing Method and Beans
According to Phillips, there are no hard-and-fast bean requirements for cold brew or iced coffee, and the sort of roast used varies from café to café. For iced coffees, for example, some coffee shops prefer a darker roast profile, whereas Blue Bottle employs “brighter” (read: more acidic) coffees to generate a wider spectrum of flavours, he adds. On the other hand, according to Phillips, “cold brew tends to take some of the [focus] away from the fruit notes and brighter flavour qualities of a coffee.” “If you have a very costly, lightly roasted, high elevation coffee from Ethiopia, you probably don’t want to make a gallon of cold brew out of it. You’d probably miss out on a lot of the wonder it has to offer.”
The brewing procedure is one of the most significant variations between the two types of coffee. According to Phillips, iced coffee is commonly made by brewing coffee with hot water and then cooling it immediately (i.e., by pouring it over ice, a technique known as “flash brewing”) or shortly after (i.e., by putting it in the fridge). Cold brew, on the other hand, takes far longer than a Hulu ad break. “Cold brew is a method that involves immersion (the coffee grounds and water sit together and steep) over long periods of time — up to 24 hours in certain situations,” Phillips adds. As a result, the drink is frequently more expensive than its iced equivalent. (PSA: You must try these supercharged cold brew cans.)