What is Cold Brew Coffee?

what is cold brew? a tea-like cold coffee drink

A refreshing cold brew coffee brightens up hot mornings, but even if you want to avoid dealing with coffee brewing in the early hours, it can still be your go-to drink! What is cold brew coffee?

In one of our previous articles, you may have already read about how to make a truly refreshing summer iced coffee in just a few minutes. I briefly mentioned cold brewing there, but now I want to tell you more about it. This post will appeal to those who wish to spend less time making their morning coffee in the scorching heat. Just take it out of the fridge and enjoy the caffeine bomb this drink contains. 

Let’s get into it!

What is cold brew coffee?

Cold brew has a taste similar to filtered coffee, but it’s a particular version of it. The most significant difference is that 

  • while hot water is poured over the grounds in traditional filtered coffee, 
  • cold brew is made by steeping the coffee in cold water. 

The different chemical processes result in a much smoother taste.

Cold brew is not complicated; imagine a glass bottle filled with filtered water. Into it, you place coarsely ground coffee using a “basket.” Then you put it in the fridge in the evening, let it steep for 8-12 hours, and it’s ready.

It’s important to mention that since the coffee is in contact with water for a long time, it allows the maximum amount of caffeine to be extracted. So, it’s recommended to consume at most 100-150ml at a time. Its caffeine can be one to two times higher than a traditional filtered coffee.

What’s the difference between cold brew and iced coffee?

I’ve heard this conversation several times during my barista years, where people debated whether cold brew counts as iced coffee and how it belongs to a separate category. 

What’s for sure is that 

  • it should be treated differently from an iced latte, 
  • but since it’s officially served over ice, guests might think it’s an iced coffee.

It’s important to emphasize that ice is not used during the preparation, so officially, it’s not considered iced coffee!

this picture shows the difference between cold brew and iced coffee
This is iced coffee.

Does cold brew have more caffeine than iced coffee?

Yes, cold brew coffee generally tends to have more caffeine than iced coffee. 

Making a cold brew usually takes around 12 to 24 hours. This steeping process slowly extracts The caffeine and flavors from the coffee grounds. More caffeine is extracted since the steeping time is long and the water is cold.

On the other hand, iced coffee is typically made by brewing hot coffee and then cooling it down by adding ice. The hot water extracts caffeine from the coffee grounds more quickly. Thus, the caffeine content is lower.

Types of cold coffees

There are different types of cold coffees: 

  • Nitro cold brew
  • Cold drip
  • Traditional cold brews

What is nitro cold brew?

You’ve probably heard of nitro coffee, but most people have yet to learn it. When I first encountered the term “nitro cold brew,” I thought I’d be sipping on a delicious brown beer, but it quickly became apparent that it wasn’t.

Nitro coffee is the nitrogen-infused version of cold brew, which can be tapped just like a beer, resulting in a similarly creamy, frothy, and richly flavored beverage.

If you haven’t encountered it yet or haven’t dared to try it, I encourage you, especially if you’re a black coffee enthusiast – you won’t be disappointed.

What is a cold drip?

Many people confuse the two drinks, and I don’t blame them. The best way to describe it would be that cold drip is the transition between traditional filtered coffee and cold brew. In this method, icy water drips onto coarsely ground coffee, which also takes several hours to prepare but about half the time compared to the cold-soaked version.

As a result, it will have a lower caffeine content and a slightly more distinct flavor. It’s usually served over ice as well.

Cold brew makers, you should try

The most well-known tool is the Mizudashi cold brew bottle sold by the Hario company. However, nowadays, there are plenty of similar-looking devices with almost identical functions on the market.

An exciting and cost-effective solution for making cold brew coffee is using the classic French Press. Simply pour coarsely ground coffee into the water, press the filter below its surface, and then put it in the fridge.

The next day, gently press down the coffee grounds to the bottom of the container using the filter and slowly pour the finished drink over a few ice cubes.

cold brew maker: a hario Mizudashi coffee pot

The best cold brew recipe

Fortunately, as you could read earlier, there is no difficulty in making this beverage, but I will still provide a specific recipe with recommended proportions.

Like other filtered coffees, we’ll stick to the 2oz/liter ratio. As with any filtered coffee, it’s important to mention that using a light roast coffee is essential, as a dark roast will produce a bitter taste.

After all, one of the main characteristics of this tool is that it can produce a very clean, fruity, almost tea-like beverage.


  • 750g filtered water
  • 45g coarsely ground, light roast coffee


  • Pour the water into the device.
  • Carefully place the filter basket filled with ground coffee into the water. If using a French Press, add the ground coffee to the bottom of the device, then fill it with the appropriate amount of water, but it’s essential not to stir!
  • Put on the bottle lid or gently push the filter below the surface.
  • Place the device in the refrigerator and wait for 10 hours.
  • After the time has elapsed, remove the filter basket from the water. 
  • It’s also important to mention that you don’t need to press or shake it. What naturally flows out of it can go into the beverage, but there’s no need for more. 

Many people make the mistake of squeezing or shaking it, which ruins the whole drink. Let’s not be greedy; precision is key!

For French Press, gently press down the filter as far as possible – no need to push too hard – and pour the finished beverage into another container from which you can serve. Be careful to leave around the last 30-50ml in the device, as it might contain too many grounds and make the final coffee taste bitter.

Grab a glass jar – or any favorite coffee mug – put in a few ice cubes, and measure 100ml of the finished beverage.

Enjoy the upcoming moments, and have a great coffee time 🙂

The remaining amount, stored in the fridge, will maintain its quality for an additional 2-3 days, but it’s not recommended to make more than a 3-day batch!

I hope I introduced you to another type of coffee, and many of you will try it!

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