COLD BREW VS. ICED COFFEE: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

Both cold brew coffee and iced coffee are popular beverages brewed from coffee beans and often served cold. There are differences in the brewing processes and equipment used to make these two drinks, creating distinctive results in taste and strength. Read on to learn more about the difference between cold brew and iced coffee, along with recipes to make in your own kitchen.

COLD BREW AND ICED COFFEE DIFFERENCES

KitchenAid® cold brew coffee maker KitchenAid® cold brew coffee maker
KitchenAid® cold brew coffee maker KitchenAid® cold brew coffee maker

WHAT IS COLD BREW?

Cold brew is a brewing method that produces a coffee concentrate with a no-heat approach. Coarsely ground coffee is steeped in cold, filtered water for 12-24 hours in a covered container. The grounds are then strained and water or milk, ice and flavorings are often added to the concentrate and typically served in a clear glass. The long exposure to cool water extracts the flavor and caffeine, producing a rich, smooth, less acidic brew.

It’s believed that cold brew originated in Kyoto Japan in the early 1600’s, after Dutch traders introduced the idea of “fireless” coffee and people realized that brewing without heat made for less acidic beverages.

CAN YOU MAKE COLD BREW COFFEE AT HOME?

Cold brew coffee is simple to make with the right tools. The freshest grounds make the best coffee, so a good grinder that helps you create coarse grounds will help you step up your brewing game. The KitchenAid® Burr Grinder features 70 precise settings to help you match your grind size to your brew method. Pair the grinder with a cold brew coffee maker and you’ve got what it takes to make great cold brew coffee at home. The KitchenAid® Cold Brew Coffee Maker makes up to 14 servings that stay fresh in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.1 It features a convenient built-in stainless steel tap so you can serve the brew right out of the refrigerator and it has a carrying handle for easy portability. 

1 Servings may vary based on coffee or tea type.

Making cold brew coffee in a KitchenAid® Cold Brew Coffee Maker requires just a few simple steps:

  • Fill the steeper with fresh, coarse grounds

  • Pour cold filtered water over the grounds in a circular motion. Allow the grounds to absorb the water 

  • Let the coffee steep at room temperature, or in the fridge for 12-24 hours 

  • Remove grounds, serve and store extra in the cold brew maker in the refrigerator

Tall glass of black iced coffee next to two brownies Tall glass of black iced coffee next to two brownies

WHAT IS ICED COFFEE?

Iced coffee is a refreshing way to enjoy a brewed drink on hot days. It consists of hot coffee—preferably brewed from a fresh, dark roast, medium grind—that’s been cooled and served over ice. It’s often sweetened with sugars or syrups. Milk, nut milks or cream are also sometimes added to help mellow the coffee’s bitter taste.

The ingredients and equipment needed for making iced coffee are simple and straightforward. While ice coffee is typically made from drip coffee, any quick, hot brewing method will work to make strong coffee including an auto drip coffee maker, a pour over set up or even a French Press. Then, all that’s required is ice, a tall glass and any sweeteners, flavorings or milk you want to add:

  • Fill a tall glass to the top with ice

  • Pour cold or room temperature fresh brewed coffee almost to the top of the glass

  • Add milk, cream, half and half or nut milks, sweeteners and serve

One of the challenges with iced coffee is that the melting ice can dilute the drink. To help compensate for this you can use a higher grounds to water ratio to create a stronger brew. The KitchenAid® 12 Cup Drip Coffee Maker with Spiral Showerhead features a variable brew strength selector to choose between regular and bold strengths. 

COFFEE BEAN TIP:

Keep in mind that the type of coffee beans you use can help modulate the flavor and brightness of your beverage, for instance as roast temperature increases, beans tend to lose their acidity, so darker roasts are good options for iced coffee.  

WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN COLD BREW AND ICED COFFEE?

Heat, time, flavor and strength differentiate cold brew and iced coffee. Cold brew steeps grounds, slowly, in cold water. Iced coffee is brewed hot—using a standard coffee maker— cooled and served over ice. Certain light, floral notes can only be extracted using hot water, so iced coffee tends to have brighter (acidic) and more pronounced flavors than cold brew. Cold brew is mellow, smooth and more balanced in flavor and contains about twice as much caffeine per ounce before dilution.

To serve your cold brew beverage a 1:3 coffee to water/milk ratio is typically recommended. This means you add 1 part coffee concentrate to 3 parts water or milk.2 For iced coffee, a good rule of thumb is that ice should be about ⅓ of the total liquid volume; so to yield 16 ounces, use 4 ounces of ice and 8 ounces of coffee.

2Servings may vary based on coffee type.

SWEETENER TIP:

Sugar doesn’t melt as easily in cold drinks, so using a simple syrup to sweeten your iced beverages is a great option.

KitchenAid® burr grinder next to two coffee mugs KitchenAid® burr grinder next to two coffee mugs

CAN YOU HEAT COLD BREW COFFEE OR ICED COFFEE?

The versatile coffee concentrate that’s produced by the cold brew method can be heated, gently and served as a hot beverage. Iced coffee is a drink, designed to be served cold. If you want to enjoy it hot, simply drink directly after brewing and skip adding the ice.

Because you can make cold brew coffee in large batches and store it in the fridge for up to two weeks, this can be a time saving way to get a less acidic cup of morning coffee. 

For the best results, heat cold brew concentrate in a saucepan with water over low-medium heat until it reaches the desired temp, but don’t allow the coffee to boil as this can make the coffee taste bitter. Serve in a mug with your favorite flavors.

CAN YOU FREEZE COLD BREW COFFEE?

Freezing cold brew in covered ice cube trays is a great way to use extra coffee. The cubes can be added to iced coffee drinks to help keep them tasting flavorful and delicious. Make sure to cover the ice cube trays to prevent the coffee from absorbing odors in your freezer and keep it tasting fresh.

The KitchenAid® Shave Ice Attachment comes with four ice molds to let you freeze things like coffee into pucks for your favorite frozen coffee desserts. Use cold brew concentrate instead of espresso for a unique take on this Dulce de leche cappuccino shave ice recipe.

Homemade frappe topped with chocolate sauce Homemade frappe topped with chocolate sauce

WHAT ARE COLD BREW RECIPES TO MAKE AT HOME?

Cold brew coffee is very versatile. It complements a variety of flavors and because it’s concentrated, the coffee taste will come shining through. Not only is cold brew coffee delicious on its own, it can be turned into mocktails, cocktails—try this anything but old school Cold Brew Old Fashioned—and even used to flavor desserts like Coffee Mocha Cupcakes.

Turn coffee into dessert for your next gathering. C’Mores Coffee treats are great enjoyed around a bonfire and Cold Brew Coffee Floats combine cold brew concentrate, ice cream and chocolate in a craveworthy dessert.

Coffee isn’t the only thing you can make with a Cold Brew Coffee Maker from KitchenAid. Steep tea, using the no heat approach, to make mellow Cold Brew Chai or other delicious tea beverages.

WHAT ARE ICED COFFEE RECIPES TO MAKE AT HOME?

This hot weather favorite is served with regional “twists” across the globe. You might find Thai Iced Coffee sweetened with condensed milk. It’s sometimes spiked with whiskey in Ireland or brandy in Sri Lanka and a scoop of vanilla ice cream is common in Chile’s sweet take on iced coffee. The one thing they all have in common is they all begin with a great cup of coffee.

In addition to regional variations, there are limitless ways to put your own twist on iced coffee. Dark Chocolate Coconut Iced Coffee uses nut milk to mellow and enhance the brewed beverage. This recipe for Vanilla Almond Coffee Frappe uses ice cubes made with almond milk, so as the cubes melt the coffee is infused with delicious almondy sweetness. Experiment with different flavored ice cubes and additions like lavender, caramel, warm spices and liqueurs to elevate your iced coffee drinks.

KitchenAid® espresso maker next to homemade biscotti KitchenAid® espresso maker next to homemade biscotti

SHOP KITCHENAID® COFFEE MACHINES

Brew exceptional café style drinks at home with the KitchenAid® Coffee Collection. Find timeless drip coffee machines, cold brew makers, grinders and espresso machines with features to help you create the most delicious brewed drinks. Don’t miss the KitchenAid® 12 Cup Drip Coffee Maker with Spiral Showerhead and Programmable Warming Plate that evenly saturates coffee grounds for optimal extraction, producing an exceptionally flavorful cup of coffee and the KitchenAid® 38 oz. Cold Brew Coffee Maker that’s 35% bigger3, to help your brews go further. 3

3Compared to original KCM4212SX.

 

DISCOVER MORE COFFEE TIPS WITH KITCHENAID BRAND