The Difference Between Cold Brew vs. Iced Coffee vs. Cold Coffee & Tips for Brewing at Home

Craving a bit of caffeine but not sure what to reach for? Coffee lovers who prefer a chilled morning fix have the choice between cold brew, iced coffee, cold coffee and more. But have you ever wondered the true differences between all your cold coffee options? We’ve compiled a comprehensive list to showcase the differences between cold brew coffee versus iced coffee versus cold coffee.  Plus, you’ll find tips and tools that you can snag for the best home-brewing experience. Whether you’re new to the coffee game or an expert in all-things caffeine, this list will help you create great drinks in a jiff!

Cold Brew Coffee

These days, cold brew coffee is (ironically) a hot topic. The popularity of this type of brew has risen drastically in the past 5 years, but that’s not where it started. Cold brew coffee was first created in Japan in the 1600s, although some believe that Dutch traders introduced this process to the Japanese.  

Cold brew coffee, as we know it today, is a specific method of brewing that involves steeping coffee grounds in cold water for an extended period – anywhere from 10 to 24 hours and sometimes more. The result is a coffee concentrate, much stronger than traditional coffee, that should be diluted with water or milk to make a yummy pick-me-up.  

If you’d like to start making cold brew on your own at home, we recommend: 

  1. Coffee grinder: Achieving a consistent grind size is important for making cold brew. 
  2. Coffee beans: Choose high-quality coffee beans that you can pick up locally or order your favorite exotic beans for a unique flavor. If you’re searching for a bean recommendation, you can’t go wrong with the Original Whole Bean Medium Roast by Dunkin’. Pro tip: Dark roasts tend to work wonderfully for cold brew, but you can use any roast level that you prefer. 
  3. Cold brew pitcher or jar: Invest in a large container that comes with a lid so you can make batches of cold brew as large as you like. It’s recommended that you choose a glass container, if possible, as this material helps enhance aromatics while steeping.  
  4. Cold water: If filtered water is available, opt for that over tap water. Although using tap water will still yield a good result for your cold brew.  
  5. Cheesecloth or fine-mesh strainer: You can utilize either a cheesecloth or strainer when the steeping process is complete to remove any stray grounds from your container. 

Finally, once your cold brew coffee has steeped for your preferred time, you can get creative by adding syrups, creamers, or other flavors to your drink. Check out the Dunkin’ recipe page to spark your coffee creativity! 

Iced Coffee

When it comes to iced coffee, this beverage is truly just hot coffee that’s been cooled down and poured over ice. Although not always done, iced coffee can even be brewed directly into a cup or mug filled with ice. But we warned, most people will argue this waters down the coffee because the ice will melt quickly.  

Iced coffee is ideal for the warmer months to help you cool off, but iced coffee fanatics will argue this is the choice for morning coffee year-round. Iced coffee can be made with any type of coffee, including espresso, drip coffee, or even a French press. Some coffee connoisseurs prefer their beverage with just ice but feel free to spice things up by adding your favorite milk, creamer, sweeteners or syrups.   

The best coffee beans for brewing iced coffee typically have a sweeter and more full flavor profile, but most beans will work. Below we’ve listed the types of coffee beans that will make delicious iced coffee, each time you brew:  

  1. Medium to dark roast beans: Medium to dark roast beans have a lower acidity than light roast beans, making them a great choice for iced coffee beverages.  
  2. Central and South American beans: Brazil, Colombia, and Guatemala are home to beans that boast a mild flavor profile. Plus, these beans have subtle nutty and even chocolatey notes that make for a unique iced coffee.  
  3. African beans: Beans found in some regions of Africa, like Ethiopia or Kenya, are also wonderful options for brewing iced coffee. Although not all grocery stores carry beans from these regions, they are worth the extra leg work to find.  

Of course, the beans that you choose should be your favorites so don’t be afraid to deviate from our list and experiment with fun and new flavors.

Cold Coffee

Finally, if cold coffee is your drink of choice, there’s really no fuss needed to make your morning cup of Joe. Simply put, cold coffee is any type of coffee, be it espresso, drip coffee, or made in a French press, that has been chilled to your liking. All that is needed is your favorite brew method and a cute cup to enjoy it in. To liven up your cold coffee experience, we highly recommend trying one of the many Dunkin’ flavors. Here you will find new flavors you can’t get anywhere else so be sure to grab them while you can!  


Cited sources: 

© The J.M. Smucker Company © 2023. DD IP Holder LLC (as to Dunkin’, Dunkin’ Donuts, and all other trademarks, logos and trade dress of DD IP Holder LLC) used under license.

Keurig and K-Cup are trademarks of Keurig Green Mountain, Inc., used with permission.

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