There are two main ways to take your coffee: hot & cold. But if you prefer your coffee chilled, there are two main ways to consume coffee cold: iced coffee & cold brew. So, what’s the difference?
Iced coffee & cold brew often get lumped together, but there are some pretty big differences in how they’re made which affect both their taste & their cost. While they may be made from the same ingredients (basically just water & ground coffee beans), they aren’t prepared the same way. Iced coffee starts out as regular coffee, with ground beans being brewed in hot water, before the coffee gets poured over ice & served chilled. Simple as that!
Cold brew is bit more labor-intensive, which is probably why it’s preferred by coffee connoisseurs. As the name might suggest, you make cold brew by brewing coffee in cold water (as opposed to piping hot H2O). That lack of heat creates lower acidity, resulting in a smoother, sweeter taste. Coffee also infuses into cold water more slowly than it does hot water, which is why cold brew takes at least 12 hours to make. The ratio of coffee to water also has to be higher (1:5 in cold brew vs. about 1:16 in hot coffee). Cold brew is also considered higher quality, since the gentle & slow brewing process produces a more mellow, less acidic taste while also yielding a stronger caffeine concentration. And because of all this, cold brew ends up being more expensive than iced coffee.
Both iced coffee & cold brew are both more widely available during the warmer months, and which one you should order depends on your coffee budget and preference. Until things warm up, though, I think we can all agree that we should just stick to warming ourselves up with a nice, hot cup of joe (like the WFRE Country Roads blend from Dublin Roasters).