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Battle of the Brews: Cold Brew vs Iced Coffee

Written by Ben Higgins


Posted on April 28 2023

Battle of the Brews

Whether you are new to the coffee world or a seasoned enjoyer, you have most likely heard of the two titans of the cold coffee world: Iced coffee and cold brew. Though they look and taste similar, there are some particular differences that might make you choose one over the other. 

So what is the difference between iced coffee and cold brew?


Heat or No Heat

The core of what’s different between iced coffee and cold brew lies mostly in how heat is applied to the coffee grounds. Put simply, iced coffee is coffee that is brewed hot and then cooled down, while the cold brew is brewed at room temperature or cooler, and maintained at a cold temperature when served. These differences go further than naming the drink between “iced coffee” or “cold brew”, though — They have a significant impact on the flavor profile of the drink. 

Much of the flavor in coffee comes from the oils that are extracted during the brewing process. High heat over a short period of time, as is common in iced and hot coffee, extracts more oil quicker than a cold process. This comes at a cost, as too much heat or too long of a brew time can extract too many oils, leading to an over-brewed, muddled, and poor-tasting cup of coffee when brewed incorrectly.

In cold brew, conversely, fewer oils are extracted over a longer period of time, lowering the chances of over-brewing while also accentuating some of the sweetness. With the lack of heat, less of the bitter and acidic flavor compounds of the coffee are extracted as well, making for a smoother, bolder cup than other methods.

Flavor Profiles Iced Coffee and Cold Brew

Iced coffee brews will typically taste bright, floral or fruity, and acidic when compared to cold brew. With the heat-to-chill method, brighter notes are accentuated for a more delicate and bright flavor that mimics the flavor of the coffee when brewed hot.

Cold brew coffees will typically taste bold, chocolatey, and sweet when compared to iced coffees. Since it is kept cool throughout the brewing method, the coffee has more time to build a strong, bold body, resulting in a highly concentrated, chocolatey, and nutty-flavored coffee that will stand up to many syrup flavors or milks. It will also be significantly less acidic than iced coffee, and may feel silkier or thicker in the mouth than iced coffee will.

The differences between iced coffee and cold brew are numerous, but what’s most important is your taste! Both options are delicious ways to brew coffee and may suit the flavors you’re looking for in different ways. Try this cold brew recipe at home to see what’s different between iced coffee and cold brew for yourself!

a glass of iced coffee with a blue straw



While brewing cold brew concentrate takes a long time, the preparation process is simple, making it super easy to bring the smooth and strong profile of cold brew into your home.


  1. Your favorite blend of Generous Coffee 
  2. A coffee bean grinder 
  3. A large container (think 32 oz Mason Jar)
  4. A cheesecloth OR a French press
  5. Something to stir with. 


  • Grind your coffee beans.
      1. Stick with a coarse grind, as it will make the filtration process a little easier.
  • Place your grinds in your container, add water, and stir it up for a bit.
      1. The ratio of water to coffee varies, and your taste may change with experience. To start, try mixing 1 oz. of coffee for every 8 oz. of water you are brewing. 
  • When your water and grounds are in your container, the next 24 hours of the journey are simple.
      1. If you are using a French press, place the lid on the container, but do NOT press down.
      2. If you are using a large container, you can cover it with cheesecloth or just leave it to steep at room temperature.
    1. Let the coffee steep for 12-24 hours. 
      1. The longer the steep, the more distinct the flavor, meaning a 24-hour brew will give you a richer concentrate.
  • After cold steeping, filter your grounds from your concentrate into a pitcher or serving container.
      1. If you are using a French press, simply press down on the plunger.
      2. If you are using a container like a Mason jar, use the cheesecloth as your filter for separating the brew from the coffee grounds.
      3. You will want to have a separate container to pour the coffee into as you strain it with the cheesecloth.
  • Dilute your cold brew concentrate with an equal amount of water. 
    1. The concentrate is incredibly strong, bold, and caffeinated, so diluting it in this way will more closely mimic the flavor of a traditional cold coffee.

Store your cold brew in the refrigerator and enjoy it within ten days.

Be Generous glass with cold brew coffee


Try the Differences Between Iced Coffee and Cold Brew For Yourself 

At Generous, we encourage you to experiment and try unique coffees every day. Though cold brew and iced coffee are fairly different, what’s important is that they are both unique and interesting ways to drink coffee! Each of their profiles suits a different palate, and may mix with certain recipes better than others. Share these coffee recipes with your friends and see if they can find what’s different between iced coffee and cold brew too!



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