Cold Brew vs. Cold Press vs. Iced Coffee

You want a coffee and something cold sounds refreshing. Enter the confusion of the cold coffee world. With the recent prolific rise of cold brew coffee in the main stream, the confusion is at an all time high for what cold brew actually is. Cold brew is not just coffee with ice, and it is not the same thing as iced coffee. And then what the heck is Cold Press? I try to answer the basics:

Cold Brew

Traditionally, coffee is brewed with hot water in as little as a few minutes. Cold brew is a method of coffee brewing in which coffee is brewed using room temperature to cold water infused with the coffee grounds for 12-24 hours. The lower water temperature results in a coffee that is sweeter with a lower perceived acidity. This method originated as a way to brew a cup of lower acidity coffee and drinkers would actually heat up the coffee before drinking. Drinking it cold on ice is a relatively new trend. This method is great if you like a sweet, refreshing coffee, but you can lose many of the interesting flavor notes and balance found in hot brewed coffee. Also, this method tends to make very concentrated coffee, so diluting with water before consumption is encouraged for both flavor balance and not taking off like a rocket with anxiety.

Favorite cold brewing methods

How to make cold brew

Cold Press

Cold Press is a term used interchangeably with Cold Brew, many times incorrectly. I have found that many cafes and coffee shops just go with the term that locals use. For example, I have found that here in Minnesota Cold Press seems to be the norm, where in the Pacific Northwest like Seattle or Portland, Cold Brew seems to be more commonly used. Cold press is the same brewing method as cold brew, except a French press is used to brew the coffee. Grounds are steeped in water in a French Press for 12-24 hours, then the grounds are pressed and the cold brew is poured. The end product is the same as if you used a cold brew system, but Cold Press is a convenient way to filter out the beans.

How to make cold press

Iced Coffee

This is NOT an interchangeable term for cold brew and cold press. It is an entirely different coffee brewing method that results in a cup of coffee with a completely different flavor profile. Properly made iced coffee is coffee that is brewed hot, and flash chilled quickly. By brewing hot, the full range of flavor is extracted from the coffee, resulting in a beverage with the complexity, flavor, and balance of a hot coffee with the refreshing qualities of a cold brew. The biggest mistakes made in iced coffee is too slow of a cooling time which creates oxidation and stale, cardboard-like flavors. Throwing ice in a pot of coffee that got down to room temp won’t give great results. For best results I recommend the Japanese Flash Brew Method: