Cold coffee and cold brewing: the differences

They seem to be the same thing, but cold coffee and cold brewed are based on completely different principles: here are all the differences.

They have the same name but are not the same at all: cold coffee and cold brew (what does it mean “cold mixture“We should actually talk more precisely about ‘cold brewed coffee’ because it is also possible to make ‘cold brewed tea’) are two preparations that are based on deeply different principles and it is worth knowing them. all differences.

It is not possible to definitively confirm which of the two is “best” also because it is impossible to reason with extra personal taste, but let’s say that there are some objective advantages to preferring the other over the first, and other objective to prefer the first over the second.

Place and period of origin

Lecce coffee seen from above

Cold coffee here in Italy has spread especially in the south, but the method of hot coffee chilled with ice comes from Spain and dates back to the 17th century. We are also in the 17th century for cold brewed coffee, which seems to originate from a completely different part of the world: Japan. Since then, in the Land of the Rising Sun, they have loved making coffee and tea by distilling it with cold water. Strange how cold brewed coffee is now linked to the US and Starbucks and they consider it an “American”, right?

Toddy or cold drip

Cold brew is made with an instrument with an exact name: it’s called Toddy and got its name from the American inventor Todd Simpson: apparently, a lover of filter coffee that was tasted in Guatemala, he reproduces it at home but lowers the temperature of the coffee a lot. water well aware of the link between acidity and high coffee temperatures. But I will return to this point shortly. The cold brewing technique varies very little compared to the “cold drop”, the name as it is often called.

Shake or mix?

The Italian-European iced coffee goes back in different variants, almost all of which are based on a more or less concentrated hot coffee. There are those who then cool it with ice and shake it by adding other ingredients, there are those who mix it with ice to get a thick foam that looks almost like a dessert.

Initial coffee blend

milani coffee

To make iced coffee as we understand it here in Italy – that is, as an espresso poured hot on ice and enriched with other ingredients such as sugar syrup, or alcoholic beverages such as whiskey cream – you need a mixture that is suitable for the espresso machine or suede. : a blend of Robusta and Arabica is a classic. Many, for practical purposes, are based on soluble coffee powder. For cold brewed coffee, on the other hand, a less fine and coarser grinding of coffee is required and many prefer aromatic solutions like some Ethiopians.

Water temperature

preparation, cold coffee

Cold coffee, as we have seen, starts with an espresso or suede. The water for making coffee is therefore warm in the beginning. Two exceptions to temperature come from French Algeria – where iced coffee made with sugar, ice and coffee syrup took hold in the 19th century – and from Scotland – where Camp coffee based on concentrated coffee, chicory essence, water and sugar. Cold brewed coffee, on the other hand, does not provide hot water but directly cold but not ice water (it is enough to be cold, which avoids thermal shock): there is a special tool that acts as a still image, which slowly drips cold. water on the ground coffee, extracts its aroma. Here is a clear advantage in favor of iced coffee: you want it, you do it right away.


ready-shaken coffee in martini glass

The time to brew the coffee and cool it by pouring it on ice is very short, a few more moments to season it and shake it or mix it and whisk it to a froth. The situation changes a lot for cold brewed coffee, which drops a drop in hours: with about 25 g of coffee per 500 g of water, 6 drops of cold brewed coffee should be observed every 10 seconds … 3-5 hours, to use up all the water!

Presence or not of ice

I have already specified this point here and there, but let me summarize briefly: for “European” cold coffee, whether shaken or not, the presence of ice is practically fundamental. There are those who try to avoid an excessive temperature change by allowing the coffee to cool to at least room temperature and then pouring it on ice, and those who skip this precaution. For cold brewed coffee, there are different schools: many cool the water with ice, others use ice directly to melt it directly on the coffee and thus get the extraction, others prefer to avoid ice to use a lot of fresh water. I delve into the following point.

Durability and acidity

coffee machine with cup

Like it or not, whether it’s a love of Italian or Neapolitan espresso or not, there’s a fact: hot coffee is not very friendly to digestion because it is very sour. With a violent cooling – actually from hot on ice – this acidity increases. Sour coffee tends to rancidly steep in a short time. In summary, an iced coffee has a very short, almost immediate shel file … it should be drunk right now. Cold brewing does not cause this problem: the extraction is sensitive, the coffee is not exposed to high temperatures or special shocks (which is why, as I wrote, many people reject ice due to the risk of reverse thermal shock, ie heat but rather causes frost) , and is much less acidic. For this reason and for the more sensitive extraction, it has a very long shel file, even 2-3 days if stored in the refrigerator without adding sugar … this is the net advantage that cold brew has compared to cold coffee.


cold coffee

If the cold coffee in 99% of cases is enriched with at least sugar syrup and aromas or liqueurs or cream / milk, cold brewed coffee is appreciated in purity: if done well you can enjoy the direct aroma of the selected coffee, and each addition is too many. Let’s say that it is objectively difficult to drink a pure cold coffee without anything.

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