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Coffee Doesn't Always Need To Be Hot! What are the differences between cold coffees?

Updated: Nov 18, 2023

Iced Coffee vs Cold Brew Coffee vs Nitro Coffee (which is seen in the clip above)

Now that the weather in Maine is warming up, you may find yourself craving a cold beverage in your hand. Your first (& last) cup of coffee for the day doesn’t always need to be hot! Let's start a conversation about the differences between the typical cold coffees, though there are some variations to these basic explanations. You will also find suggested cold brew recipes so refer back to this when your craving for a cold brew begins. Also, at the end of this you'll see a tasty suggestion if you use ice cubes in your cup.

Iced Coffee, much like the name implies, is a traditional cup of coffee poured over ice cubes. The coffee is brewed with hot water then kept cooled in a refrigerator or immediately served over ice. I had leftover coffee from the other day so I put it in a mason jar in my fridge for just this purpose. Iced coffee often produces a ‘brighter’ tasting cup of coffee, accentuates the acidity from the coffee beans and usually tastes thinner due to melting ice. Did you know that you can also ask for your favorite espresso drink to be iced at most coffee shops?

Cold Brew Coffee has been making an appearance on menus across the country and is different from iced coffee in that it has been steeped in cold water typically for 12-24 hours instead of being brewed hot. The grounds are then filtered out and the end product is typically served over ice. Cold brew coffee typically makes a bolder cup of coffee, a less acidic and smooth tasting cup, and typically has more caffeine than iced coffee. It tends to have more caffeine as it generally uses a greater coffee to water ratio.

You can purchase a carafe designed for cold brew coffee which houses a mesh-type insert or get creative with straining the grounds from the coffee by using a french press or a simple kitchen strainer. A standard recipe is a 1:8 ratio of coffee to water or a 1:5 ratio for a stronger cup. We adjust based on the coffee, so play around until you find the flavor you are looking for.

Our current featured coffee roaster, Time & Tide Coffee, makes a concentrated cold brew coffee and recommends:

  • 12 ounce bag of coffee, coarsely ground

  • 64 ounces cold water

  • 2 large containers, with lids

  • Put the ground coffee and water in a covered container

  • Steep overnight in the fridge, 12 to 14 hours

  • Strain – there are several ways you can do this, but the simplest is to line a sieve with a coffee filter and strain the liquid into your storage container

  • The strained liquid is cold brew concentrate

  • Dilute the concentrate – most people like a 1:1 ratio – to taste, with water, milk, or the plant milk of your choice (we like oat milk)

  • The concentrate, undiluted and covered, keeps about a week in the fridge

Nitro Cold Brew takes cold brew a step further by adding the filtered coffee to a keg and then infusing it with nitrogen which creates microbubbles. Once poured from a keg tap, nitro cold brew drinks have a creamy foam top, much like a draft beer. These drinks are meant to have straight from the draft or nitro infused can. You can now find nitro cold brew canned at specialty markets across the state and find cafes who serve them by the tap! Nitro cold brew often has the most caffeine of the three.

Do you drink your coffee cold? Which type do you prefer? Let us know!

Pro Tip: Make some ice cubes with coffee instead of just plain water and then store them in your freezer. We put our coffee ice cubes in a big freezer bag and then use them in our iced coffee so the coffee doesn't become too watered down.

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