Cold Brew Coffee Vs Regular Coffee: Differences To Know

Cold brew has a different flavor and chemical composition when compared to regular coffee. This creates a coffee with a more mellow, sweet flavor and less sharpness. Cold brew and regular coffee also differ in their brewing time, caffeine content, acidity levels, and shelf life.

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Cold Brew Coffee Vs Regular Coffee: Differences To Know - DarkHorseCoffeeCompany

Key Takeaways

  • Cold brew tastes sweeter and more mellow than regular coffee
  • Regular coffee and cold brew contain similar amounts of caffeine
  • Cold brew is less acidic than regular coffee, with a higher pH
  • Cold brew concentrate can be stored for much longer than regular coffee
  • It takes much longer to brew cold brew than regular coffee
  • Hot coffee may be higher in antioxidants while cold brew is easier to digest
  • Cold brew is not the same as iced coffee

Table Of Contents

Differences Between Cold Brew Vs Regular Coffee

There are lots of differences between cold brew and regular coffee. Regular coffee is brewed at a hot temperature of around 200F, while cold brew is usually brewed at room temperature or below. This creates very distinct coffees with different flavor profiles and chemical compositions.

Other notable differences between cold brew and regular coffee include the caffeine content of each drink, the time they take to brew, and the shelf life of a brewed coffee. Many people enjoy the taste of cold brew and also appreciate its versatility and convenience.

Taste And Flavor Profile

One of the most noticeable differences between cold brew and regular coffee is the taste and flavor profile. Cold brew coffees taste sweeter and more mellow than regular coffees, even when brewed with the same beans. They’re also less acidic, and the cold brewing process brings out the flavor of the roast profile of your beans.

These differences in taste and aroma exist because of the different rates at which extraction occurs at different temperatures. When coffee is brewed at higher temperatures, acids are extracted more quickly, resulting in a more acidic coffee. When brewed at lower temperatures, the water will extract less acid but more sugar.

Studies have shown that the chemical composition of cold brew is totally different to that of hot brewed coffee. This creates an entirely different flavor profile. Most people find that the rich depth of flavor in dark roast beans is most suited to the mellow flavor profile of a cold brew coffee.

Caffeine Content

While some people claim that cold brew coffee contains less caffeine than regular coffee, actually the caffeine content of cold brew is very similar to that of regular coffee. 

Commercial cold brews can vary hugely in caffeine content just in the same way that regular coffees can, but you can control - to some degree - the caffeine content of your cold brew when you make it at home.

When you make a batch of cold brew, you’ll end up with a cold brew concentrate that must be diluted with water before it can be drunk. This concentrate is very high in caffeine. Diluting cold brew concentrate at a 1:1 ratio with water will result in a cold brew coffee that’s very similar to regular coffee in its caffeine content.

If you want to create a cold brew with less caffeine per cup, simply dilute your cold brew concentrate with a higher ratio of water to cold brew. You can also add milk or milk alternatives to your cold brew concentrate to reduce the caffeine content per cup.

coffee vs cold brew in a jug

Acidity Levels

Cold brew coffees also contain less acid than hot brewed coffees. This is because, in a cold water extraction process, fewer acids are extracted from the coffee beans than in hot water extraction. This results in a smoother taste, less sharpness, and a higher pH level.

As well as making cold brew coffee more pleasant to drink for a lot of people, this also means that cold brews may be easier on the stomach. If you suffer from acid reflux, GERD, or other stomach complaints that result from high acidity levels, switching to cold brew could help to mitigate some of your symptoms.

Brewing Time

Cold brew coffee brews for longer than hot brewed coffee. The higher temperature that regular coffee brews at means that extraction happens much more quickly, resulting in a brewing time of just minutes.

Cold brews are usually left to brew for between 12 and 24 hours. While this does mean that cold brew takes much longer to make, it’s still very easy. A lot of people leave their cold brew to steep overnight so that it’s ready for the next morning.

If you want to try making your own cold brew, experiment with different brewing times to see how this impacts the taste of your coffee. Leaving cold brew to steep for longer often results in a sweeter, less sour coffee.

Shelf Life

Cold brew is notable for its longer shelf life when compared with regular coffee. While hot brewed coffee will start to go stale within hours of brewing - whether you keep it at room temperature or in the fridge - cold brew concentrate can be stored in the fridge for up to two weeks before going bad.

To preserve cold brew concentrate for as long as possible, store it in an airtight glass container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Ensuring an airtight seal is the best way to protect your cold brew from external odors and prevent oxidation from occurring.

If you want to keep your cold brew fresh for even longer than this, you can store it in the freezer. Pour small amounts of cold brew concentrate into ice cube trays to keep your cold brew fresh for up to two months.

Is Cold Brew Healthier Than Hot Coffee?

While some people think cold brew is healthier than hot brewed coffee, most scientific studies have concluded that neither cold brew nor not coffee is better for you. The only exception to this is that some people may find cold brew coffee slightly easier to digest.

In terms of antioxidants, hot brewed coffee may actually contain more antioxidants than cold brewed coffee. However, whether this will have any meaningful impact on your health is not yet known.

Perhaps the biggest difference for most coffee drinkers is the differing acidity levels in cold brew and hot brewed coffee. The cold brewing process extracts fewer acids from coffee beans, resulting in a coffee with a higher pH level. For some people, this may make cold brew easier to digest and ease some of the symptoms of acid reflux and GERD.

cold brew vs regular coffee with milk

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Benefits Of Cold Brew Coffee

Some of the clearest benefits of drinking cold brew coffee include:

  • Cold brew has a sweet, pleasant flavor that’s unique among coffees
  • It’s easy to brew cold brew at home
  • You can store cold brew for up to two weeks in the fridge
  • Different dilution ratios make cold brew a versatile drink
  • Lower acidity levels make cold brew easy on the stomach
  • Cold brew is just as good for you as hot coffee

Many people switch to cold brew because they prefer the flavor of cold brewed coffee, but there are also lots of other reasons to try cold brew. If you want a coffee that’s versatile, convenient, and healthy, cold brew may be a good choice for you.

Benefits Of Regular Coffee

Some of the benefits of drinking regular coffee include:

  • Many people enjoy the classic, complex flavor of hot coffee
  • You can brew a regular coffee in minutes
  • Regular coffee may contain more antioxidants than cold brew
  • Regular coffee is the best way to explore the flavor of individual coffee beans
  • Hot coffee is perfect on a cold day
  • Hot coffee offers most of the same health benefits as cold brew

Hot coffee offers the classic flavor profile and taste that most people associate with coffee. It’s easy to brew quickly, and the huge variety of coffee beans on the market makes it easy to brew a hot coffee that matches your tastes. Sometimes, if you’re craving a coffee, only regular coffee will do.

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Is Cold Brew Better Than Regular Brew?

Neither cold brew nor regular brew is necessarily better than the other. For most people, this question will come down to personal taste. If you enjoy sweet, smooth coffees, you might prefer the taste of cold brew (even if you choose to drink it with hot water). If you prefer coffees with a sharper taste or more bitterness, you will prefer regular coffee.

It’s important to understand that cold brewing is a method of preparation and doesn’t refer to either the beans you use to make your coffee or the way you choose to serve it. You can drink cold brew cold, or you can drink it warm. Similarly, iced coffee is usually made by adding ice to hot brewed coffee - it is not the same as cold brew.

Both cold brew and regular coffee contain a similar amount of caffeine and boast health benefits such as a potential boost to your metabolism. Both can be drunk hot or cold, and both can be made with coffee beans of any type and roast level. Ultimately, whether you prefer cold brew or regular brew - or which one you’re in the mood for on any given day - will vary with your tastes.

Which Is Stronger: Cold Brew Coffee Or Regular Coffee?

Neither cold brew nor regular coffee is particularly stronger than the other. Cold brew coffee concentrate is very strong: it’s somewhere between 1:4 and 1:8 parts coffee to water. Compared to regular coffee, which is typically somewhere between 1:16 and 1:20 parts coffee to water, cold brew concentrate is very strong.

However, you won’t drink cold brew concentrate straight. It’s normal to dilute cold brew concentrate with water, usually at a ratio of at least 1:1 or more. This means that the cold brew that you drink will be close in strength to hot brewed coffee. If you want your coffee to be weaker or stronger, you can add more or less water during the dilution stage.

You can also dilute both cold brew coffee and regular coffee with milk, creamer, and other additives. These additives will reduce the strength of your coffee, bring down the amount of caffeine per cup, and change the taste of your drink.

cold brew vs regular iced coffee

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Frequently Asked Questions About Cold Brew Vs Regular Coffee

The biggest differences between cold brew vs regular coffee include the taste, flavor profile, acidity levels, and shelf life. Cold brew creates a sweeter, less acidic drink than hot brewing methods. Cold brew also lasts for longer than regular coffee when stored properly in the fridge or freezer.

Neither cold brew nor regular coffee is necessarily stronger than the other. While cold brew concentrate is very strong, cold brew can be diluted to different strengths to achieve the desired strength and flavor. Caffeine content in cold brew and regular coffee is usually similar.

Cold brew offers many of the same health benefits as hot coffee. Both cold brew and hot coffee may help to boost your metabolism and increase the likelihood that you’ll live longer. Cold brew’s lower acidity levels make it a little easier on the digestive system than regular coffee, but other than this both coffee preparations have a similar impact on the body.

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