Cold Brew vs Drip Coffee: What Are The Differences?


There are many similarities and differences in cold brew vs drip coffee. In this post we’ll define the two types of coffee, caffeine content, flavor comparison, and brewing time and process. If you’re not sure about each type of coffee, we trust this will help clear up any confusion.

cold brew coffee
cold brew coffee

What is Cold Brewed Coffee?

Cold brewed coffee is made with cold water and regular coffee. It is generally served as cold coffee and is an especially great way to enjoy a refreshing drink during the summer months.

Depending on the cold brewing method used, coffee grounds are traditionally left to steep overnight to maximize coffee extraction and for the best results.

Because of the cold brewing process, the caffeine content tends to be more concentrated. On the other hand, one of the benefits is it has lower acidity and a cold brew taste.

As is true with many types of coffee, there is more than one way to brew cold brew. Cold brewing methods include using a cold brew coffee maker or it can be as simple as combining water and coffee grinds in a mason jar and allowing the extraction process to take place overnight.

One of the benefits of cold brew concentrate is that it’s refreshing on a hot summer day because it’s brewed cold and is usually served as cold coffee.

The best grind size to use for cold brew is an extra coarse grind. This allows the longest extraction time to maximize flavor and the most delicious outcome.

What Cold Brew Coffee is Not

Sometimes people easily confuse cold brew coffee with iced coffee. By definition and according to coffee lovers, cold brew coffee and iced coffee are not one in the same.

Traditional iced coffee is usually made by brewing regular coffee using a drip coffee method or another preferred hot brew method at extra strength. It is then served over ice cubes with milk and sugar for additional flavor.

Cold brew and ice coffee are not one in the same. Cold brew and cold brew concentrate are brewed with cold water using extended times and can be served hot or cold.

But iced coffee is brewed using hot water over short time frames and is always served cold over ice.

What is Drip Coffee?

Regular drip coffee is coffee that’s brewed using a drip machine. During this process hot water is added to a reservoir that holds the coffee grounds, which brews the coffee. The finished coffee then drips out into the coffee pot to be served.

Standard drip coffee is usually the brewing method that’s used to make regular hot coffee.

It uses a coffee filter and drip coffee machine. Coffee grounds and hot water are inputted into the machine and the outcome is freshly brewed hot, drip coffee.

Caffeine Content

Let’s take a look at the caffeine content of cold brew as it compares to drip coffee. Because of how it’s brewed, cold brew coffee has the higher caffeine content. Therefore, drip coffee has less caffeine.

For example, an 8-ounce cup of cold brew concentrate can have over 500 mg of caffeine, but the same quantity of hot brew drip coffee has about 100 mg of caffeine.

Why does cold brew have more caffeine? Undiluted cold brew has a higher caffeine concentration because of the way it’s brewed.

With the coffee grounds sitting in the water in the refrigerator overnight, it allows for maximized extraction of caffeine levels.

Flavor Comparison

As far as the flavors of cold brew and drip coffee are concerned when comparing the two brew methods, cold brew has less bitterness and a somewhat sweeter flavor, with floral notes.  It also has lower acidity than coffees brewed using hot water.

As far as additional flavors are concerned, brown sugar is a flavor that’s often added to cold brew. Brown sugar foam as well as brown sugar and molasses are popular flavor combinations.

Drip coffee or coffee that’s brewed with hot water tends to have more of a bitter flavor which is created by the acidic notes and higher acidic levels.

Brewing Time and Process

How do the brewing times as well as processes compare for both cold brew and drip coffee?

Let’s address the brewing times first. Drip coffee takes about 5- 8 minutes to brew, which is much less time than it takes for cold brew to process.

Cold brew requires a much longer period of time and needs to sit in the refrigerator overnight to allow the extraction process to do its thing. It can take 12 – 24 hours of brew time.

The other differentiating factor of cold brew vs drip coffee is the brewing process itself. Water temperature is a factor in that cold brewed coffee uses cold water, but drip coffee uses either hot water or room temperature water. Filtered water can be used for either type of coffee if desired.

The water ratio or parts water that are used for cold brew concentrate are less compared to the amount of coffee grounds than that of drip coffee.

Frequently Asked Questions

Following are frequently asked questions that relate to cold brew vs drip coffee. If you have a question that’s not answered here, feel free to drop it to us in the comments box below and we’ll be happy to respond.

Is cold brew stronger than drip coffee?

Yes, cold brew is also referred to as cold brew concentrate, meaning the coffee ratio to water is higher.

Is cold drip or cold brew better?

It’s a matter of personal preference as to whether cold drip or cold brew coffee is better.

Cold drip separates the cold water from the grounds of coffee completely, while cold brew submerses the coffee grounds in the cold water for a length of time, which creates a concentrate.

What is the difference between cold brew and drip coffee?

The main difference between cold brew and drip coffee is the process that’s used to brew them.

Cold brew uses a submersion method for the coffee grounds to soak in the water, but drip coffee separates the coffee grounds from the water during the brewing process.

Is cold brew coffee better than regular coffee?

Whether cold brew coffee is better than regular coffee is a matter of personal preference. While the brewing processes are different, the flavor outcomes are as well.

Cold brew coffee is known to be just as healthy as regular coffee, according to nutrition experts.

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Sarah is known for her extra fancy yeast breads, melt in your mouth pies, and everything salads. She has won awards as a home cook, and is passionate about helping others feel smarter in the kitchen. Sarah is the cooking genius of the sister duo.

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