As the weather heats up, many people turn to cold coffee drinks to stay cool and refreshed. Two popular options are iced coffee and cold brew. While they may seem similar, the two have some significant differences. In this article, we’ll compare iced coffee vs. cold brew, including caffeine content and calorie count, so you can choose the perfect drink for your taste and needs.
What is Iced Coffee?
Iced coffee is a type of coffee that’s brewed hot and then chilled. To prepare iced coffee, one can use any typical brewing method like drip coffee maker, pour-over, or French press, and then serve the hot brewed coffee over ice. This cooling process results in a refreshing drink perfect for a hot summer day.
The Pros and Cons of Iced Coffee
One of the biggest advantages of iced coffee is its convenience. It’s easy to make at home, and many coffee shops offer it as a standard menu item. However, brewing can result in a slightly bitter taste, so some people add milk or sweeteners to balance the flavor.
When it comes to caffeine content, iced coffee has roughly the same amount of caffeine as hot coffee. This means you can still get the caffeine boost you need to start your day or power through an afternoon slump.
What is Cold Brew Coffee?
In contrast, cold brew coffee involves immersing coffee grounds in cold water and letting them steep for a prolonged duration, typically lasting between 12 to 24 hours. This slow process extracts the coffee’s flavor without the bitterness that can occur in hot coffee. As a result, the coffee produced is smooth, velvety, and has a subtle sweetness, making it an excellent choice for creating iced coffee beverages.
The Pros and Cons of Cold Brew
One of the primary benefits of cold brew coffee is its flavor. The extended steeping time results in a less acidic and bitter coffee that’s easier on the stomach. Moreover, cold brew coffee is less likely to oxidize, which means it can stay fresh longer than hot-brewed coffee.
Regarding caffeine content, cold brew coffee typically has less caffeine than iced coffee. The extended steeping time results in a slower extraction process, which means less caffeine is released from the coffee beans. But some cold brew coffee can be made with a higher coffee-to-water ratio, resulting in a stronger caffeine kick.
Cold Brew vs. Iced Coffee Caffeine
While both cold brew and iced coffee contain caffeine, the amount can vary depending on the brewing method and coffee-to-water ratio. Generally speaking, iced coffee has a similar caffeine content to hot coffee. On average, an 8-ounce cup of iced coffee contains between 80 and 160 milligrams of caffeine, depending on the brewing method and the type of coffee used.
At the same time, cold brew coffee typically has less caffeine than iced coffee. This is because the slower brewing process produces less caffeine from the coffee beans. On average, an 8-ounce cup of cold brew coffee contains between 60 and 100 milligrams of caffeine, depending on the brewing method and the coffee-to-water ratio.
Cold Brew vs. Iced Coffee Calories
When it comes to calorie count, iced coffee and cold brew are relatively similar. Both drinks are low in calories, and the calorie count can be further reduced by omitting milk, cream, or sweeteners.
An 8-ounce cup of black iced coffee typically contains between 2 and 5 calories, while the same size serving of cold brew coffee contains between 0 and 5 calories. Yet, if you add milk or sweeteners to your coffee, the calorie count can increase significantly. For example, adding two tablespoons of whole milk to your coffee can add around 20 calories, while adding two tablespoons of sugar can add approximately 30 calories.
It’s worth noting that some coffee shops may add additional flavorings, such as syrups or whipped cream, which can significantly increase the calorie count of your drink. If you’re watching your calorie intake, it’s essential to check the nutritional information of your coffee drinks or opt for a black coffee or one with low-calorie add-ins like almond milk or stevia.
Why is Cold Brew more Expensive than Iced Coffee?
Cold brew is typically more expensive than iced coffee due to the extra time and effort required to make it. Cold brew coffee is made by steeping coffee grounds in cold water for an extended period, usually 12 to 24 hours, which requires more coffee grounds and a longer brewing time than traditional hot coffee or iced coffee.
In addition, cold brew coffee requires specialized equipment, such as a cold brew coffee maker, which can be more expensive than standard coffee-making equipment. The cost of the equipment and the extra time and resources needed to make the cold brew are reflected in the higher price of the finished product.
Furthermore, the demand for cold brew has increased in recent years, leading to a higher price point for this specialty coffee drink. As more coffee shops and cafes offer cold brew as a menu item, they may charge a premium for the added convenience and quality of the drink.
Which One Should You Choose: Cold Brew or Iced Coffee?
Choosing between cold brew and iced coffee ultimately comes down to personal preference. Cold brew coffee may be a great solution if you prefer a sweeter, less acidic, and less bitter coffee. But if you’re looking for a quick and convenient way to cool off with your regular coffee, iced coffee may be your best choice.
It’s worth noting that both cold brew and iced coffee can be customized with various add-ins to suit your taste preferences. You can add milk, cream, sugar, or flavored syrups to either drink to create a custom flavor profile.
One thing to keep in mind is that cold brew coffee requires more planning and patience than iced coffee. Since the brewing process takes 12 to 24 hours, you’ll need to prepare the coffee in advance, which may not be convenient for everyone.
In summary, when it comes to cold brew coffee vs. iced coffee, both are popular coffee drinks that are perfect for hot summer days. While both contain caffeine, the amount can vary depending on the brewing method and the coffee-to-water ratio. Cold brew coffee typically has less caffeine than iced coffee due to the slower brewing process.
Regarding calorie count, both drinks are low in calories, but adding milk, cream, or sugar can significantly increase the calorie count. Therefore, if you’re watching your calorie intake, it’s essential to choose low-calorie add-ins or stick to black coffee.
In the end, deciding between cold brew and iced coffee is a matter of individual preference. Whether you prefer a sweeter, less acidic, and less bitter coffee or a quick and convenient way to cool off with your regular coffee, both drinks are refreshing and delicious options for coffee lovers.