Coffee

Cold Brew vs Iced Lattes: Which is Best For Your Summer Brew

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With the latest heatwave scorching the country, British summertime is now well and truly underway. When the weather is hot, many people don’t like to have hot drinks but still need that caffeine fix. This is when we turn to iced coffee beverages to provide us with the caffeine to get through the day as well as giving us a refreshing drink on hot days. 

As a specialist coffee roaster in London, who on the daily creates unique tasting freshly roasted coffee beans, we love to experiment with all kinds of coffee brewing and preparation techniques. This includes experimenting with cold coffee drinks. With colder coffees often being seasonal, you may not be as familiar with the different kinds of drinks there are and assume they’re the same. 

We’re going to walk you through the main different methods of making a cool and refreshing coffee and how the preparation methods can create vastly different drinks from the same wholesale coffee beans. 

What Are The Different Methods of Cold Coffee Preparation?

It may seem like there is a huge variety of different cooler coffee drinks available but there are actually only two main methods of preparation. Firstly, we have the classic iced coffee which is more than likely the one you have had the most and secondly, its more topical cousin, the cold brew. 

When selecting your drink on a hot day, you may not really know the difference between the two. You just pick whatever sounds the coolest to quench your thirst and deal with the heat. This doesn’t do the drinks justice as the two brewing methods are incredibly different and create their own unique tasting glasses of coffee. 

Honourable Mentions

There are other methods of creating a cooler brew. These either aren’t a traditional cold coffee or produce as ‘good’ a cup of coffee but they are too popular to not mention. 

The first is the frappé coffee. You may be familiar with this and its many variants across coffee shop chains, including the Starbucks Frappuccino. These drinks are just a form of iced coffee, as they use espresso, ice, milk, flavourings and a blender to create a milkshake kind of drink. However, the original frappé is a Greek drink. The frappé has become a hallmark of post-war outdoor Greek coffee culture and is prepared differently to a modern frappe.  

The difference when creating this drink instead of using espresso shots is that you use one or two teaspoons of instant coffee (traditionally Nescafe.) This is mixed with sugar (to taste) and a little water in a blender and is blended to form a foam which is then poured into a tall glass. In addition, cold water and ice cubes are added with milk (optional of course). As it uses instant coffee, the flavour tends to be less complex when compared to espresso or other brewing methods but as it has such cultural significance, it cannot be ignored. 

Our final honourable mention is the affogato as this treads the line between dessert and beverage. An affogato is ice cream or gelato served with espresso poured over it. The meaning of affogato in Italian means “drowned” which reflects the coffee drowning the ice cream or gelato in coffee flavour. An affogato tends to be served with scoops of ice cream with a shot (or 2) of espresso poured over the top, sometimes mixed with a liqueur. A white affogato is the same as a regular affogato, just with milk added.

Now, let’s break down the two main brewing methods.

Iced Coffee

As mentioned before, this is the classic beverage that most people will have had. This is because it is essentially just coffee with ice. You can differentiate them all by the different syrup flavours added or using a blender or not, but they all boil down to espresso coffee being added to ice. 

Whenever you order a frappe, for example, the coffee component will be espresso. This is then blended together with ice, milk and often a flavoured syrup. An iced latte is similar, as it is just espresso coffee, milk and ice, the difference being that the drink is poured over ice rather than blended. 

Cold Brew

Cold brew uses a different brewing method to traditional iced coffees, meaning that the coffee produced isn’t just espresso made cold. Cold brew mainly uses two brewing methods, the immersion technique and drip technique to extract the coffee. These longer brewing methods give the coffee an entirely different flavour to espresso. 

Immersion is simply the process of placing coffee grounds in a vat of water and letting them steep for a period of time. Coffee solubles are slowly extracted by the water over 6 to 24 hours and then the grounds are filtered out to create the cool, smooth-tasting drink. This makes it very convenient as you don’t need a big espresso machine to create cool and great coffee. 

Cold drip is a coffee making method, in which iced water is dripped through ground coffee. It is also known as Dutch coffee, or Kyoto style cold brew. With Dutch coffee, the water washes soluble matter from the coffee and then is passed through a filter into a collecting vessel.

Cold drip relies on diffusion and gravitation to extract the soluble solids. Gravitation speeds up the brewing time, (by increasing the entropy) and because of the increased entropy, batches brewed in 3.5 hours are very common. 

How The Two Differ in Taste

The two have massively different extraction times. Espresso is extracted fast, under incredibly high pressure. Cold brew can take almost a day to extract due to the lack of pressure in the process. 

The ‘cold’ in cold brew doesn’t just mean how the drink is served, it also reflects the fact that the coffee is brewed at a cold  temperature rather than at higher temperatures like espresso and other methods. Cold brewing doesn’t pull out the acids or caffeine as much as hot brewing, sometimes resulting in as much as 66% less of each. As you can imagine, this affects the flavour quite a bit.

Much of the acids and solubles that carry the lighter floral and fruity notes in a coffee, as well as the undesired flavours, are only extracted at certain temperatures. This is why cold brew is touted as less acidic and easier on your stomach. On the other hand,  it’s also why cold brew is often muted in flavour when compared to the same bean brewed as a pour over or a French press. 

Which One is Right for You?

It comes down your personal preference. Cold brew has a smoother, less acidic taste,  those with more sensitive palates could benefit from this. However, those who are more used to coffee and its nuances may miss some of the subtleties of flavour that espresso brings. Iced coffee can use a number of different speciality coffee beans to create a quality cup of coffee. If you want any kind of light roasted beans or floral and fruity single origin coffees, then you need to go for an iced coffee. 

Cold brew is far more forgiving and convenient as the beans that have been sitting around for a few weeks since not all of the solubles will be extracted from the coffee. So extreme freshness isn’t as important as it is for other brew methods. If you want a smoother coffee that requires little attention, cold brew is for you. 

Wholesale Coffee Beans London

Whatever brewing method you prefer, we can help as a wholesale coffee supplier and roaster. We roast an assortment of unique and quality coffee beans at wholesale prices. We help out those in the coffee industry in a number of ways besides supplying shops with beans. We also offer a barista training service as well as a leasing programme where you can get high-quality La Marzocco coffee machines at affordable prices. Get in touch today and discover what we can do!

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