What Does Cold Brew Taste Like?

Cold brew coffee tastes more mellow and sweet when compared with both hot coffee and iced coffee. This is because the cold brewing method extracts different flavors and compounds from coffee beans. You can also tailor your cold brew coffee to your own tastes by preparing it with different amounts of water, milk, and other additives.

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What Does Cold Brew Taste Like? - DarkHorseCoffeeCompany

Key Takeaways

  • Cold brew coffee has a sweeter, softer flavor than hot brewed coffee
  • The type of beans you use will impact the taste of your cold brew
  • Cold brewing methods can result in up to 66% less acidity in cold brew coffee
  • The strength and flavor profile of your cold brew will depend on how you dilute it
  • Cold brew contains a similar amount of caffeine to regular coffee
  • Cold brew can last for up to two weeks in the fridge when stored properly

Table Of Contents

What Does Cold Brew Taste Like?

Cold brew has a more mellow and less acidic flavor than other types of coffee, including hot coffee and iced coffee. This is partially because of the longer brewing period that cold brew undergoes. It’s also because of the reduced amount of oxidation that occurs when preparing a cold brew.

The taste of cold brew will depend on the type of beans that you use to make your cold brew, as well as the specifics of your cold brewing method. Cold brews tend to result in coffees that highlight the roast profile of the coffee bean rather than the flavor of the bean itself.

If you prepare a cold brew coffee with dark roasted beans, you can expect a coffee with a deeper, more complex flavor. Cold brews prepared with lighter roasted beans will be more subtle, with more of the cold brew’s flavor coming from the bean rather than the roast.

Cold brews may also taste naturally sweeter than hot brewed coffees, with some cold brew preparations tasting particularly nutty or chocolatey. You can also alter the flavor of your cold brew by adding sugar, milk, honey, or spices.

Smoothness And Low Acidity

Cold brew coffee is typically more smooth and less acidic than hot brewed coffee. This is because of the way cold brew is prepared: water at different temperatures will extract different flavors from coffee beans in different ratios.

Brewing coffee at a cooler temperature means that less acid is extracted from the coffee bean, often resulting in lower titratable acidity levels, with some studies showing that cold brewed coffees have up to 66% less acidity than their hot brewed counterparts.

Acidity in coffee results in bitterness and sharpness. Reduced amounts of acidity in cold brew coffees produce a mellow, smooth flavor even when cold brews are prepared using darker roasted beans.

cold brew coffee taste session

Sweet Vs. Bitter

Cold brewed coffee is naturally sweeter and less bitter than hot brewed coffee. This is because the cold water extraction process extracts fewer acids from the coffee beans, resulting in less bitterness.

If your cold brewed coffee is too bitter, it may mean that you used beans that were ground too finely. Finely ground beans require less time to extract than coarsely ground beans, and this can result in bitterness and acidity when brewing for an extended period of time.

Similarly, the extended brewing time that cold brews undergo results in a sweeter drink. If your cold brew is too sour, try brewing it for longer to bring out the natural sweetness of your coffee beans.

Strength And Flavor Profile

The strength and flavor profile of your cold brew depends on the ratio of cold brew concentrate to water, as well as other additives that you choose to use.

When you make cold brew coffee, the result of your brew will be cold brew concentrate. Before you can drink your cold brew, you’ll need to dilute this concentrate with water. Most people will pair one part cold brew concentrate with between one and two parts water to create a cold brew they enjoy.

If you prefer your cold brew stronger, with a deeper flavor profile, add less water and maintain a ratio of closer to 1:1 cold brew concentrate to water. If you want a subtler, more refreshing cold brew, increase this to 1:2 cold brew concentrate to water.

Differences Between Cold Brew And Traditional Coffee Brewing Methods

The biggest differences between cold brew coffee and traditional coffee brewing methods are that cold brew is brewed at much lower temperatures and for a longer period of time than hot brewed coffee.

Cold brew is usually brewed at room temperature (68F or 20C) while hot brewed coffee is brewed at around 200F (or 93C). At this lower temperature, different flavors and compounds are extracted from the coffee beans during the brewing process. This is why cold brew coffee and iced coffee taste so different.

Oxidation occurs much more quickly in hot water, which is why hot brewed coffees taste sharper than cold brews. You could use the same beans to prepare a hot brewed coffee and a cold brew and find that the cold brew is sweeter, smoother, richer, and less bitter.

The extended brewing period of cold brew coffee also impacts its final flavor. Steeping coffee grounds for extended periods results in a sweeter flavor because more of the sweetness of the coffee is extracted over time at room temperature.

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Why Do People Love Cold Brew Coffee?

People love cold brew coffee because it’s delicious, convenient, versatile, and easy on the stomach. If you want to brew a cup of coffee that tastes great and works in almost any situation - from hot summer afternoons to cold winter evenings - cold brew might be the answer.

Taste Preference

Some people simply prefer the taste of cold brew to the taste of hot brewed coffee. It’s important to remember that even if you prepare coffee using cold brew methods, you can still drink it hot if you prefer it this way, but it will taste different to hot brewed coffee even if you use the same beans.

The cold brewing method means that different flavors and aromas are extracted from coffee beans, resulting in a very different cup of coffee when compared to hot brewing methods. If you prefer a sweeter coffee that contains a depth of flavor without featuring any of the sharpness or bitterness that can sometimes be tasted in hot brewed coffee, you’ll enjoy cold brew.


Cold brew is much more versatile than hot brewed coffee. This is because the brewing process results in a cold brew concentrate that you can dilute to your own tastes and pair with other ingredients to make a totally unique drink.

Some ideas for things that you can do with cold brew concentrate include:

  • Iced cold brew: Mix concentrate with ice cubes and water
  • Cold brew soda: Mix concentrate with sparkling water or soda
  • Hot cold brew: Mix concentrate with hot water
  • Cold brew latte: Mix concentrate with ice cubes and milk

The subtle, smooth taste of cold brew also makes it the perfect coffee to pair with spices, sweeteners, and other flavorings. For example, if you want to make your cold brew even sweeter, you can add a small amount of sugar or honey to enhance the drink’s natural sweetness.

cold brew taste with fruit

Less Acidity

Cold brew coffee is known for being less acidic than hot brewed coffee. As well as improving the taste, many people with sensitive stomachs or acid reflux issues may find cold brew easier to drink.

When you brew a cold brew coffee, the cooler temperature of the water that you steep your coffee beans in will extract fewer acids from the beans, creating a less acidic cup of coffee. As well as tasting better, this also makes cold brew easier on the stomach. If you ever feel uncomfortable after drinking coffee, either because of acid reflux, GERD, or something else, you might find that cold brew is a more easily digested alternative.

Extended Shelf Life

Cold brew coffee also boasts an extended shelf life when compared to traditional coffee. You can store cold brew coffee in the fridge for up to two weeks before it goes bad. If you want to store it for even longer than this, you can freeze small portions of cold brew concentrate in ice cube trays.

Cold brew lasts longer than hot brewed coffee because it has a higher flavor stability. This means that the flavors and aromas in your cold brew concentrate take longer to break down, allowing your cold brew to maintain its fresh flavor for longer.

To maximize the shelf life of your cold brew, store it in an airtight glass container in the fridge before diluting your cold brew concentrate with water. Ensuring that your cold brew is sealed with an airtight lid prevents it from coming into contact with oxygen which reduces the impacts of oxidation.


Cold brew is also easy to make at home. You can make cold brew by simply steeping coarsely ground coffee beans of your choice in fresh water for between 12 and 24 hours. You can then just strain the concentrate through a fine mesh cloth.

You can brew cold brew in the fridge, or you can brew it at room temperature. Factors that affect the taste of your cold brew include the temperature you brew it at and the length of time you let it brew for. Experimenting with different beans and brewing parameters will help you to find the perfect cold brew recipe to suit your tastes.

Does Cold Brew Have More Caffeine Than Regular Coffee?

Cold brew does not usually contain more caffeine than regular coffee. Depending on how you brew a cold brew, it can contain more, less, or a similar amount of caffeine.

Cold brew concentrate is very high in caffeine, but it’s also unpleasant to drink straight. After you dilute your cold brew concentrate with water, it will probably contain a similar amount of caffeine to regular coffee.

While hot water extracts more caffeine from coffee beans than cold water, cold brew also steeps for longer. This extended brewing time results in more caffeine being extracted from the beans over time.

If you want to prepare a coffee with a lower caffeine content, however, you could prepare a cold brew with a higher water to cold brew concentrate ratio. This would effectively minimize the caffeine content in your coffee, although it would also change the taste of your coffee.

hot coffee vs cold brew taste

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Frequently Asked Questions About What Does Cold Brew Taste Like?

Cold brew coffee tastes more mellow than hot brewed coffee. It’s known for its low acidity levels, natural sweetness, and smooth body. The flavor of your cold brew will depend on the type of beans you use and your method of preparation. Choose dark roasted beans to create a coffee with a deeper flavor.

People love cold brew coffee because it offers a uniquely sweet flavor compared to hot brewed coffee. Its low acidity levels make it easier to stomach, and its extended shelf life makes it convenient to store in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Cold brew contains a very similar amount of caffeine to regular coffee. Cold brew concentrate is very strong, but once this is diluted with water the caffeine content will be similar to regular coffee. Of course, if you use more water to dilute your cold brew this will decrease the caffeine content per cup.

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