Iced Coffee VS Cold Brew Coffee (Which is Better?)

Woman holding iced coffee

There are so many ways to enjoy coffee, no matter the season. Some of you may like to start your mornings with a no-frills hot cup of joe. Others might prefer the sweet, refreshing taste of iced coffee.

However, “cold” coffee is more complicated than you might think. In fact, a lot of people get easily confused with the many variations of iced and cold brew coffee.

Are they the same? What is the difference anyway?

In this article, I will be comparing the qualities of iced and cold brew coffee. Hopefully, after you read this guide, you’ll know which one you prefer!

But first, let’s look at iced coffee and cold brew individually.

What Is Iced Coffee?

Iced coffee is simply coffee with ice in it.

You just need to wait some time after brewing the coffee before putting ice cubes.

It takes about an hour before brewed coffee cools down to room temperature, so you can just put your coffee in the fridge to speed things up!

This quick iced coffee recipe is ideal for busy mornings, but if you’re in a mood for something fancier, try this Churro Iced Coffee float recipe. It’s a yummy double-espresso concoction topped with vanilla ice cream.

How Much Caffeine Does Iced Coffee Contain?

A 16-oz iced coffee contains about 165 mg.

Because iced coffee is usually just hot coffee poured over ice, it essentially has the same amount of caffeine as hot coffee.

However, this may get further diluted once you add cold water and milk. The good news is, the milk and additional water make your coffee more hydrating compared to regular brewed coffee!

What are the Benefits of Iced Coffee?

Aside from the health benefits of coffee in general such as the energy boost and lowering the risk of cancer and other diseases, iced coffee can offer more specific benefits.

Here are some of the healthy effects of iced coffee:

However, hot coffee is reported to have more antioxidants than iced coffee.

Watch this video to know more about the health comparisons between iced and hot coffee.

Is Iced Coffee Good for Weight Loss?

Yes, but this depends on the sugar and additives you put in your iced coffee.

Coffee naturally kickstarts the body’s ability to burn fats, but when you add a lot of sugar, whipped cream, and syrups, this can cause you to gain weight.

If you have a sweet tooth but still want to have that sugary goodness in your coffee, you might want to try switching to natural sweeteners like Stevia or honey.

Here are my top picks for best coffee sweeteners. Check it out!

What is Cold Brew Coffee?

Cold brew coffee is made with cold or room temperature water and is steeped for as long as 24 hours.

Once done steeping, you’ll have a full-bodied coffee concentrate that you can dilute with water.

While iced coffee can be done quickly, cold brew takes more time. But steeping the ground coffee can extract more flavor from your beans.

Here’s how you can make your own cold brew:

  • Grind your coffee beans and add filtered water.
  • Leave overnight to steep.
  • Add more water and/or milk.

I particularly love how smooth and rich cold brew coffee is. Plus, you can make a big batch in one go and simply divide it into smaller portions for your daily coffee intake.

How Much Caffeine Does Cold Brew Coffee Contain?

Cold brew coffee contains about 200 mg of caffeine.

However, it still depends on how much water you’ll use to dilute it.

Studies show that heating coffee actually produces more caffeine in your drink. That said, we can imply that cold brew has less caffeine compared to regular coffee.

Is Iced Coffee Just Cold Brew Coffee?

Iced coffee is not cold coffee although both are served cold.

Iced coffee is a hot brewed beverage just chilled down and poured on ice. On the other hand, cold coffee is brewed cold and contains plenty of caffeine.

Iced coffee is just the chilled or iced version of hot coffee that contains a bit more water as dissolved ice. So, despite the temperature, it tastes the same as hot coffee.

How is Iced Coffee Different Than Regular Coffee?

Just like regular coffee, iced coffee is prepared with hot boiling water (195-205 degrees Fahrenheit) and granulated coffee with sweeteners in it.

The only difference is that it is chilled first before drinking unlike regular coffee, which is served hot.

Because the preparation is basically identical, their flavor profiles are also not that different. It all just boils down to your preference.

Is Cold Brew More Bitter than Iced Coffee?

No, because the cold brewing process does not involve heat, the result is a sweeter and milder taste. Perfect for those who shy away from stronger coffee.

The naturally sweet and light flavor of the brew will also deter you from adding any more sugar.

Cold brew carafe and glass
While it does take time, cold brew’s sweet and rich flavor is simply captivating.

Why Does Cold Brew Taste Better?

The general consensus is that cold brew just gives you that full-bodied taste. This is because cold brew is steeped for a long time, compared to iced coffee which is made in minutes.

I definitely agree on that front, and there are even a lot of fun cold brew recipes you can try out! I was wowed by this copycat Starbucks cold brew recipe that you can easily make at home with just almond milk, cold brew, and half-and-half.

If you want to try something more adventurous, you can check out this Tiramisu cold brew coffee. It’s made with cold brew, white chocolate sauce, and tiramisu syrup. Yum!

What are the Benefits of Cold Brew Coffee?

Since the method for creating cold brew differs from the hot brew, there are also a few differences in how they may affect your health.

Here are the health benefits of cold brew coffee:

Is Cold Brew Healthier Than Iced Coffee?

Cold brew is definitely healthier than iced coffee in many aspects.

The amount of carbohydrates is way too rich in cold coffee than it is in iced coffee. Just because of the presence of carbohydrates, cold coffee not only tastes better but also contains nutrients.

However, regular consumption of cold brew coffee can cause body fat and obesity. So, no matter how cold coffee tastes delicious, drink in moderation.

Which Beverage is Better: Iced Coffee or Cold Brew Coffee?

In comparison, cold brew coffee has that deeper and stronger flavor. But you may prefer the convenience that iced coffee brings.

To sum up everything we’ve discussed, I made a table outlining all the aspects of both iced and cold brew coffee.

ContentsIced CoffeeCold Coffee
BrewHotCold
Caffeine165 mg (16-oz)200 mg (16-oz)
TasteBitterSweet
ThicknessLiquidusDense
AcidityMoreLess
Preparation time5 minutes12-24 hours
Although there isn’t a big difference in terms of caffeine, the preparation time and taste may be huge factors in your preference between the two.

Final Thoughts

Both iced and cold brew coffee bring that much-needed refreshment during hot summer days. However, the differences in their preparation and the health benefits they bring can influence your preferences.

I tend to get a bit of acid reflux when I drink too much coffee, so I find that it helps to switch to a cold brew when my stomach troubles flare up. If you have similar conditions, then it might be best to make that switch too.

On the other hand, iced coffee retains much of that strong brewed coffee flavor, so if you’re not a fan of the sweetness of cold brew, then iced coffee is the one for you.

Whether you choose one or another, it’s still important to take note of your caffeine consumption and the effects it has on your body.

So, what’s for you? Iced or cold brew coffee?

Matt Marshall

As I learn more and more about coffee and coffee products I want to share all my learnings with you here on this website. I hope you find my articles useful and entertaining to read.

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