Difference Between Cold Brew and Iced Coffee

Many people who are new to coffee often become confused when they see contradicting things about Cold Brew and Iced Coffee. Many people tend to think they are the same thing, however, wonder why it goes by two different names. The truth is that it goes by two different names because it is two different things!

Iced coffee is simply hot coffee that has been brewed the normal way with hot water. Cold brew coffee is brewed in a completely different manner than hot coffee.

clear glass pitcher with cola and ice on wooden chopping board
Photo by Marta Dzedyshko on Pexels.com

Cold brew is brewed with room temperature or cold water and is allowed to steep for about 12-24 hours depending on the recipe being used. The reason that cold brew coffee steeps for so long is due to the fact that the lower the water temperature, the less it is able to extract flavors from the coffee grounds. Hot coffee is brewed at a high water temperature which allows it to extract flavors quickly, however, cold brew is brewed at a much lower temperature which causes it to take much longer to extract the flavors. (Read about ideal brewing temperatures for hot coffee here)

You may be wondering “Why would you ever brew it this way if it takes so long?” The reasoning is that coffee brewed at cooler temperatures produces significantly different flavors than coffee brewed at traditional temperatures.

The Taste:

Iced Coffee: More acidic, has a “bite”, more bitter, brings out lighter and more fruity flavor notes

Cold Brew: Less acidic, smooth, less bitter, brings out darker and bolder flavor notes

There ya go! Next time you are in line trying to decipher the menu; keep this in mind!



P.S. If you want a great system to brew Cold Brew at home, check out what I use! Let me know if you have any questions on it…it is pretty much the industry standard for cold brew. Your local coffee shop may even use this exact model!

The Toddy Home Cold Brew System

13 thoughts on “Difference Between Cold Brew and Iced Coffee”

      1. Goodmorning, you have been a follower of mine for 9 months now. Yet I haven’t heard your thought on my blog in 8 months…. Even if you don’t agree or like what I am writing in a particular blog, I still welcome these comments too. Just saying. With much respect, Liz

    1. Goodmorning, I think you like me as a person, which is good, but you are a follower of my blog…. & yet I haven’t heard a peep from you on my blog in 8 months, whats up with that? Even if you don’t agree, or like my writing, I still welcome that comment. Just saying. Much respect, Liz

  1. I have used the Toddy Coffee cold brew for about 15 or so years. I absolutely love the smooth flavor. Removing the acid (or allowing it to right to the top) makes for a much better cup of coffee. It was difficult to purchase a cup of coffee in a restaurant after using it. Now days, a lot of higher end restaurants, or cafe’s do use the Cold Brew. What I don’t understand is why so many of them insist that the only way you can drink it is COLD. That is SO NOT TRUE. I fill my teakettle and bring it to a boil, then pour it over my one or two cap fill’s of the concentrated coffee (depending how strong I want it) and voila! Hot coffee. I keep my carafe of concentrated coffee in the refrigerator.

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