Temperatures are rising and metaphorical people are outside frying eggs on sidewalks right now. If you’re one of those connoisseurs that have caffeine flowing their veins at every second of the day, you might be looking for something a bit more chilly to replace your usual midday fix. Your most viable options will likely be one of two types of caffeinated goodness, tried and true iced coffee or the recently trending cold brew. Both are great choices- but where do they differ?
What’s the Difference Anyway?
By now, you might’ve figured out that these drinks are often served cold, making them both great options for powering up during the summer heat. The main difference between iced coffee and cold brew is in how they are both prepared. Iced Coffee is essentially the same coffee you drink every day, except served over ice. You boil and brew it as normal, flavor it to taste, and pour it into a cup of ice so it’s rapidly chilled.
However, Cold Brew is another matter entirely. The coffee beans are steeped (like tea) in cold water for several hours in order to draw out the flavor and the caffeine. Throughout this entire process, the coffee is never heated, thus earning the name “cold brew”. You might be wondering why someone would endure such an arduous process for a cup of coffee. The answer lies in the results of the different brewing techniques. More specifically, the body and the flavor.
Enjoy The Body
Pouring hot coffee into a cup of ice leaves iced coffee a bit thinner and less consistent than it’s warmer counterpart. Creamer can offset this somewhat, but it also affects the taste. So, you don’t want to use too much. Cold brewed coffee is generally as thick as regular coffee and made slightly more so by the milk you use to dilute it. It’s also notoriously smoother than iced coffee and most other boiled brews.
Taste the Difference
When it comes to these two brews, you really can taste the difference. The brewing process of old-fashioned iced coffee is to essentially burn it in order to force out the caffeine. So, it tends to carry that slightly charred and bitter aftertaste that America has come to love. Flavored with creamer, milk, and sweetener and chilled over a mound of ice, you can expect this cuppa to be a thinner and colder version of what you probably drink every day.
On the other hand, cold brewed coffee is never charred and therefore lacks the bitter aftertaste. Due to that, it’s often called smoother and sweeter than your usual icy brew. Which is why connoisseurs are willing to wait half a day for the results. However, the caffeine tends to be very highly concentrated when finished and is often diluted with milk or creamer.
As you can see, iced coffee and cold brew are two very different drinks. However, both can be a great source of relief for caffeine junkies in the summer. Which one you get depends on your own personal preferences. If you live for the burn, then tell the barista to put it on ice. If you prefer to wait for the finer things in life, order a cup of cold brew.