Cold coffee comparison: Cold brew or iced coffee?

When the temperature starts to rise, my go-to beverage becomes cold coffee. While some prefer hot coffee, nothing beats an icy-cold coffee on a scorching day. I believe that coffee is a personal taste and should be enjoyed according to individual preference.

In this post, I want to share two popular types of cold black coffee: cold brew and iced coffee. I’ll discuss their differences and provide some tips on making each one. So, whether you’re a cold brew or iced coffee fan, keep reading to learn more and discover which is right for you.

Cold brew vs iced coffee

While they may appear similar at first glance, they have many differences. To help you understand these differences at a glance, I’ve created a table outlining the main variations between the two:

DifferencesCold BrewIced Coffee
Brewing TimeSeveral hours (12-24 hours)A few minutes
Coffee GrindCoarseFine
BrewingColdHot and then cooled with ice
Shelf LifeUp to 2 weeksBest consumed immediately
FlavorSweet and smoothAromatic and balanced

Iced coffee recipe

To make iced coffee, you can use any coffee you like, but traditionally, good espresso coffee is preferred.


  • 1 espresso shot (45 ml)
  • 4 ice cubes
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar (optional)


Start by making a highly concentrated espresso coffee using an espresso machine. You can use up to double the grams of ground coffee to achieve a stronger concentration. When mixed with ice, this will prevent the coffee from losing its flavour and strength.

If you don’t have an espresso machine, use a Moka or filter coffee machine and add more coffee than a regular cup.

Concentrating coffee keeps the coffee from becoming watery and losing intensity as the ice melts.

  • Pour the coffee into a regular coffee cup.
  • If you like to add sugar to your coffee, now is the time to do it.
  • If you prefer your coffee without sugar, you can skip the cup and pour the coffee directly from the machine onto the ice cubes in the glass.

Just be sure not to add the sugar after pouring the coffee onto the ice, as it may not dissolve properly.

Considerations for making great iced coffee

  1. Drink your coffee immediately, as the ice will melt, diluting the coffee.
  2. Choose a coffee with moderate acidity to avoid over-acidity when mixed with ice, and avoid bitter coffee.
  3. Use filtered water to brew coffee to prevent impurities from affecting the taste.
  4. Pour hot coffee over ice to cool it down evenly while retaining flavour and properties.
  5. Try using coffee ice cubes to prevent dilution and avoid wasting leftover coffee.

How do you make a cold brew?

The moment I discovered cold brew coffee was a game-changer for me. I am an avid fan of its smooth and refreshing taste.

The technique of making cold brew coffee originated in Japan, specifically in Kyoto, under the influence of Dutch merchants who visited the Far East. This method, also known as Kyoto-style coffee, is still used in many establishments in the city and has even been adapted in other places under the name of cold drip.

The preparation of Kyoto-style coffee involves slowly dripping cold water over ground coffee, drop by drop, which creates a very slow process that is almost a ritual for the Japanese.

Cold brew coffee gained popularity in the United States about 15 years ago and later in Europe, with a simpler preparation method, although not necessarily faster.

Is it possible to make cold brew coffee at home?

Absolutely! However, it is important to start with high-quality coffee and avoid wasting your efforts with mediocre beans.

Choose a glass container, such as a jug or jar, and add 150 grams of ground coffee. Slowly pour in 1 litre of cold water at room temperature or colder, depending on your preference. You can adjust the amount of coffee used to achieve your desired strength.

Mix the coffee and water thoroughly to ensure a consistent mixture, then cover the container with a lid or cloth and allow it to rest for 18 to 20 hours. You can refrigerate the mixture during this time but remember that colder water will require a longer maceration time.

After 18 to 20 hours, place a paper filter in a bowl or jug and pour the mixture to remove the coffee grounds. Repeat this process to ensure the brew is free of coffee grounds.

Your cold brew coffee is now ready to be served! Enjoy it on its own, with ice or milk, as desired.

Cold Brew with French Press coffee machine

The French Press coffee machine is an excellent tool for making cold brew coffee, as it simplifies the filtering process.

To make cold brew in a French Press, use the same coffee-to-water ratio mentioned previously. However, there are no strict guidelines for the quantities of coffee and water, as the taste preferences of the person making it often govern this.

The coffee beans must be ground coarsely, even coarser than the traditional French press.

The most challenging part is determining the brewing time for the type of coffee used. This will require some trial and error, and you may have to experiment with different brewing times to find the one that suits you best.

➡️ The final result is a cold coffee with low acidity and natural sweetness that pairs well with milk, cold water, tonic, and ice for a refreshing drink.

Another advantage of using a French Press for cold brew is that you can make a large quantity that will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks.

So, if you’re like me and prefer cold drinks to combat the heat, don’t hesitate to try these two excellent methods.