We get the question all the time, "So what's the difference between Cold Brew and Iced Coffee?" So I figured I would take a moment to briefly explain how they are different.
Iced Coffee: There are a few different ways to make iced coffee, but the stuff found in the majority of coffee shops is coffee that is brewed hot, refrigerated and served over ice. Some shops will brew their iced coffee a little stronger than their regular coffee to account for melting ice. Coffee brewed this way is typically described as having an acidic bite and a stale taste, the finish is often quite bitter and unpalatable. Some shops will even take the leftover coffee and put it in the refrigerator to serve as iced coffee for the next day. If you come across a shop that does this...run! Most people require a good amount of flavored sweetener or milk to make Iced Coffee more palatable.
Cold Brew: Like Iced Coffee, there are several methods of cold brewing. We at Golf Park Coffee use a steeping method where the beans are ground to a medium/coarse profile, similar to what you would do for a French Press. The grounds are then submerged in cold water and allowed to steep for anywhere from 12-24 hours, depending on the recipe. After the steeping process is complete, the coffee is filtered leaving behind coffee free of any sludge or grounds that you usually find at the bottom of a cup of French Press coffee. The Cold Brew is now a concentrate and is ready to be diluted. Some people still prefer to add milk to their Cold Brew and will skip the dilution step adding the milk directly to the concentrate. Cold Brew coffee has a smooth mouth feel and lacks the bitterness or acidity of Iced Coffee leaving you with a chocolatey finish. We recommend drinking it black and allowing the natural sweetness of the coffee to shine. A good coffee, hot or cold, should have a pleasent aftertaste that lingers for up to 30 minutes.
I hope this was helpful. Feel free to post in the comments below about good or bad experiences with Iced Coffee and Cold Brew and how you like to drink your coffee during the spring and summer months!