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Cold Brew vs Hot Brew: Everything You Need to Know!

August 04, 2020 5 min read

Cold Brew vs Hot Brew: Everything You Need to Know!

Cold brew coffee is cold, right? And hot brew coffee, that's hot? Technically, that's totally correct. Cold brew is cold and hot brew is hot. But there's much more to know when it comes to cold brew vs hot brew coffee!

Cold brew coffee has risen spectacularly in terms of popularity over the last few years, and you'll find it on sale and available in almost all coffee shops across the USA. At first, many people assumed that cold brew was hot coffee left to go cold or cooled down with ice. That's an iced coffee.

Confused? So were we. First of all, cold brew has a different brewing temperature. Cold brew coffee is brewed cold, and hot coffee is brewed hot. Cold brew coffee has different levels of acidity, a different bitterness, a different taste, and different aromas. We were fascinated to discover that there's more to a cold brew than a temperature change, so we thought we'd delve deep into the matter, for this article!

Keep reading to find out more about the key differences between cold brew vs hot brew coffee. Here's everything you need to know!

What is the difference between cold brew and hot brew coffee?

As you might have already gathered, there's a lot more to cold brew coffee than simply having a lower temperature than regular, hot coffee!

While the differences might seem quite subtle at first, coffee fans know that the differences are, in fact, enormous. If you've ever had a sip of a cold brew coffee, and then you've taken a sip of a hot brew coffee, you'll know exactly what we're talking about.

Cold brew is coffee that's brewed using cold water. Hot brew is coffee that's brewed using hot water. The difference in preparation techniques creates unique tastes, aromas, and chemical compositions. The application of hot or cold water will determine which ingredients are released or activated during the brewing process.

The big thing to remember is that cold brew isn't iced coffee. While they might seem like a similar concept, the differences actually help to better understand the differences between cold brew and hot brew. The coffee for an iced coffee has been brewed using hot water, then cooled using ice. Cold brew never gets hot in the first place!

Both have their fans, and if you're learning more about the world of coffee, or trying to decide which style of brewing you might prefer, then here are the major, fundamental differences to consider between cold vs hot brew coffee:

  • Cold brew is brewed in cold water. Hot brew is brewed using hot water.
  • Cold brew is less acidic than hot brew.
  • Cold brew has less bitterness than hot brew.
  • Cold brew is often smooth, mellow, and rounded in flavor.
  • Hot brew has a sharper, more direct, and bitter taste.
  • Cold brew takes six-plus hours to brew.
  • Hot brew brews in minutes.

How to cold brew coffee?

We all know hot to make a hot brew coffee. All you need is ground coffee, a mug, and a gooseneck kettleHot brew is simply the application of hot water to coffee beans, but there are, of course, many different ways to make hot coffee. You can use a French press, a drip machine, or a pour-over coffee maker. Each method has its merits, and each produces a distinct flavor, but the principle and the composition of the coffee are fundamentally the same.

Cold brew, on the other hand, isn't quite so popular a type of coffee to prepare at home. Cold brewing is actually incredibly simple, but the problem is, it takes time. Cold brews need at least 6 hours to actually brew, and that's only 6 hours if you're in a rush!

A good cold brew will need at least 12 hours of brewing, if not 24 hours!

To prepare cold brew, simply select your coffee beans, grind them, and then add them to cold water. You can leave the coffee to brew in a pot or a mug, depending on how much you need to make. It's recommended to use a ratio of 10 parts water for 1 part coffee beans when you are preparing cold brew, but this will depend on how you like your coffee!

You can also prepare cold brew using a French press or Aeropress. Simply press the cold water through the beans and then allow the coffee to brew for at least 12 hours.

Once you're ready, just leave the coffee in the fridge to brew. You can filter out the granules later, of course.

As you can see, you can easily brew up your own batches of cold brew coffee at home. You just need plenty of patience and a dash of forward planning!

Are cold brew coffees stronger than regular coffee?

Is cold brew stronger than hot brew? That's the most common question that coffee drinkers ask when it comes to cold brew vs hot brew. Coffee is all about the caffeine (unless you enjoy decaf coffee), so of course, it's important to know how much caffeine you're drinking!

Research into cold brew coffee is still in the early days. Compared to hot brew, cold brew is a relatively new phenomenon in the coffee world. The general consensus so far, though, is that using the same coffee beans, a cold brew coffee would release more caffeine than a hot brew coffee.

Of course, it's important to note that different beans have different levels of caffeine, so a hot brew coffee can still easily have more caffeine than a cold brew if you're using different beans.

What are the benefits of cold brew coffee?

So, by this point, you might be wondering what other benefits there are to cold brew coffee. In fact, you're probably wondering if it's really worth the 12 plus hours needed to brew a proper cold brew coffee.

We'd say yes. You not only release more caffeine, but you activate and release many more different chemical components present in coffee beans through cold brewing, in varying quantities and numbers to hot brew. The slow brewing process ensures that the brew doesn't become acidic or bitter, because these qualities aren't released in the same way as they are when the heat is quickly applied to the beans.

Cold brewing coffee beans will release so many different flavors and aromas that would otherwise lay undiscovered if you were to only brew hot coffee. If you're after a smooth, rounded and mellow flavor, rather than an acidic and bitter hot coffee, then cold brews are the way forward.

If it's the height of summer, then a smooth, cold coffee will go down much better than a sharp, hot coffee!

Can I heat cold brew coffee?

Another common question often asked of cold brew coffee, is can it be heated up? The answer is yes. In fact, it's a unique way to produce a really unique tasting coffee. You get all the smooth, mellow flavors of the cold brew, and then you still get to drink a lovely, warm cup of coffee!

In fact, you can get really creative with cold brew coffees. As well as warming up your cold brew, it also makes a great base for an iced latte, or even a frappuccino style drink complete with whipped cream and caramel sauce on the top. You can use cold brew as the base for cocktails, too, with the smooth taste contributing to a delicious Espresso Martini!

Cold brew and hot brew: Conclusion

Cold brew and hot brew coffee have more differences than just the temperature! Cold brews have become increasingly popular in recent years, and although they aren't difficult to prepare, they do take a lot of patience!

Is it worth the wait, though, for a cold brew coffee? We think so! If you agree, why not bookmark this article, and brew up some cold coffee later?

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