Is cold brew stronger than regular iced coffee?
Is there anything better than the refreshing taste of ice-cold coffee, giving you the caffeinated jolt to take on your day? I didn’t think so.
But when you’re waiting in line at your local coffee shop to purchase coffee and seeing both cold brew and iced coffee on the menu, you might be asking yourself, “What’s the difference? Which of the two is the strongest? Does cold brew have more caffeine than iced coffee?”
The answer is both yes and no. Multiple factors separate these two delicious drinks, and the results can influence the answer to the caffeine question.
Cold brew is created by steeping medium-to-coarse ground coffee in fresh, filtered water below 40 degrees for about 24 hours, followed by filtering out the grounds for a clean cup without sediment. Unlike regular coffee, cold brew is unique in that it is never exposed to heat. When you make cold brew coffee, caffeine, oils, and sugars have plenty of time to seep out of the grounds and into the water.
Iced coffee is made using the standard hot coffee brew method. It’s simply hot coffee that has been cooled down so that it can be poured over ice. It’s important to note, too, that if you order iced coffee at your nearby coffee shop, today’s “fresh iced coffee” might very well be the leftovers from the hot coffee you drank yesterday. Coffee shops are not my siblings, and I’m not interested in hand-me-downs, thanks.
Cold brew takes the gold for flavor with its prized natural sweetness, produced by its slower extraction rate. Although a cold brew may sit for hours, the water will never extract all of the coffee’s solubles. While some of the unextracted solubles will be aromatic and flavorful, others are undesirable and bitter. Because of this, cold brew tends to be smoother than other brew methods and much sweeter. This sweetness makes cold brews perfect for adding cream to, if you’re into that, but it also means that you don’t really have to: Cold brew is delicious black.
Time Is on Your Side
Because some solubles remain unextracted in cold brew batches, the freshness of dry coffee grounds isn’t as important for cold brew as it is for hot coffee. You can still make a sweet, caffeinated cold brew with dry coffee grounds that are more than two weeks old. But note that once the drink is made, it has a shelf life of a maximum of seven days. (If you’re looking for a great cold brew recipe, we’ve got you covered.)
The Caffeine Question
So where does this leave us on the question of cold brew caffeine? Here’s why the answer is complicated.
If you compare one cup of hot coffee that’s been cooled down to make iced coffee with one cup of cold brew coffee, caffeine levels are pretty much the same, assuming that you’ve added nothing to either cup except coffee.
But then why do some people say that cold brew caffeine amounts are higher? Why is cold brew stronger than iced coffee? Simply put, it’s because a cup of iced coffee doesn’t usually contain just coffee. It also contains ice, which takes up space in your cup that could’ve been filled by coffee, and when that ice melts, it waters down the coffee. Iced coffee also usually contains cream or sugar or both, which help take the edge off the sharper flavor of hot brew coffee. Since cold brew is smoother and less acidic, it’s more common to drink it black.
Of course, for the maximum caffeine hit, you don’t want to drink just any cold brew. You’ll want to be drinking a can of Death Wish cold brew, the strongest cold brew you can buy. It’s got 300 mg of caffeine per can, enough to wake up your senses and power you through any day. Order yours today and get ready to take on the world.
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