Battle of the Brews! Iced Coffee vs Cold Brew

Summer is in full swing and there is only one word to describe it “hot”. This is why hot coffee generally takes the back seat during the summer and the cold coffee come out to play. But what cold coffee should you order? Cold brew and iced coffee always come to mind first. These have become the staple summer drinks for coffee lovers, but what is the difference between them? What is the big deal with cold brew? And should you stick with your loved iced coffee or try a cold brew?





Iced Coffee

-Brewed hot, then cooled.

-Pulls more flavors out of the bean.

-Generally cheaper than cold brew.

-Has potential to be bitter.

Cold Brew

-Brewed cold, never heated.

-Has more caffeine.

-Has a smoother, less bitter taste than iced coffee.

-Can mute the flavor of the bean.



Cold Brew is made by steeping coarse grinds in room temperature water for an extended time. Unlike regular coffee, cold brew is never exposed to heat. It uses time as opposed to heat to extract the sugars, oils, and caffeine from the coffee grinds. Once brewed the concentrate is then diluted with water and then served.

Iced coffee is generally brewed hot and then chilled or double brewed over iced for a more instant chill. Many believe that brewing iced coffee in this way is the best because the hot water pulls more flavors out of the beans.


There are two trains of thought when it comes to the flavor of these two brew methods.

The longer brew time used for cold brew brings more flavors out of the beans.

This is not entirely true. This nature of extraction can mute the flavors inherent to the bean, causing it to lose its complexity.

Brewing iced coffee with hot water pulls more flavor out of the coffee, retaining its complexity and making it taste fuller.

This is true but always remember that any coffee can be bad if time isn't taken to correctly make it. There is always room for error when making coffee so either take your time and do it correctly, or find a local cafe that you know crafts everything with consistency and care.



There is no right or wrong coffee. As long as both are crafted correctly they will be delicious, it really just comes down to preference. Try both and see which you prefer. Red Owl offers both iced coffee and cold brew at all of our locations. We would love to help you decide which you prefer.