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A Beginner's Guide To Different Styles of Iced Coffee

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Can’t seem to figure out the differences in the iced coffee drinks available in shops and cafes today?


If you often find yourself confused over the difference between classic iced coffee and cold brew–because cold brew is often served as iced coffee–then this guide is for you. We’ll help you distinguish the different styles of iced coffee.


Iced Coffee

Brewed hot then chilled or poured over ice


Technically, iced coffee is served in different styles such as drip brew, pour over, and espresso, and cooled either by chilling or serving over ice. But, if you’re ordering iced coffee, expect to receive a glass of coffee brewed traditionally using hot water and cooled down either by chilling in the fridge or pouring directly onto ice.


In a glass of iced coffee, the coffee granules are sometimes brewed double strength so melting ice won’t weaken or dilute its flavor. Taste-wise, iced coffee typically tastes slightly bitter and robust because the acids and oils that give the coffee a bitter taste are released during the traditional brewing process using hot water.


Cold Brew

Steeped in cool or cold water for long hours


Cold brew is a style of iced coffee. It is made by combining coffee grounds and cool water and letting them steep in from 12 to 48 hours to extract the flavors and make a coffee concentrate. Unlike the classic iced coffee, the cold brew is cool from the start. It is never heated, resulting in a smoother sip. It’s less acidic as well.


Cold brew can be enjoyed hot or cold. To serve cold, it can either be chilled or poured over ice. To serve warm, it can be heated. The cold brew is perfect for people who prefer a less acidic cup of coffee. Taste-wise, the cold brew is smooth, sweet, yet flavorful. The cold brew method mutes the bitter flavor of the coffee beans.


Pour Over Ice Coffee

Brewed hot and dripped directly onto ice


Also known as the Japanese iced coffee method, the process of making a pour over ice coffee is simply brewing coffee with hot water and letting the coffee drip directly onto ice. This iced coffee style is usually found in a lot of small specialty cafes because it’s quick to make yet filled with a full range of delicate flavors as well.


To make a glass of pour over ice coffee, just pour half of the water fresh off the boil over granulated coffee, let steep or bloom, pour the remaining hot water, and let the coffee drip directly onto ice. As the coffee cools instantly upon contact with ice, the flavors and aromatics of the coffee are locked in. It makes one serving at a time.

Iced Americano

Brewed espresso shot poured over ice


A shot of espresso is made by forcing pressurized hot water through tamped finely ground coffee beans. Tamping allows the ground coffee beans to resist the flow of water, resulting in proper coffee extraction and a super-powered espresso shot. Iced Americanos are brewed with the espresso shot going directly onto ice.


After the espresso shot goes directly onto ice, it can also be topped with iced water or more ice. Taste-wise, an iced Americano has a robust coffee flavor with a bit of bitterness, as compared to other iced coffee drinks. If extra-strength iced coffee is preferred, two espresso shots can be requested for the iced Americano.


Among all these iced coffee drinks, which do you prefer the most? Hope this guide helps you decide what to order the next time you get your caffeine fix!


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