Cold brew coffee vs. cold drip coffee vs. flash brew – A full guide to black ice(d) coffee

In many countries drinking cold coffee consumption is rising quickly. Even though in some countries the habit has been around for decades, in others it is quite new and this sometimes leads to misunderstandings about different cold coffees. Nobody would ever state that an espresso tastes the same as a filter coffee because there is such a major difference in flavour. Strangely enough, even though the flavours amongst cold coffee vary tremendously in terms of flavours, due to the novelty of drinking cold coffee quite often a coffee that is drank cold is simply called ice(d) coffee or cold brewed coffee. Hopefully this article will provide a bit more clarity about the differences between different brewing methods and about the right name for the right coffee. There are four different ways to prepare yourself a black ice coffee.


The first and by far simplest way is the favorite in Greece, the frappe. The frappe is made by adding instant coffee to cold water followed by a good shake or trip to the blender. The coffee is then poured over ice cubes or crushed ice. The degree of sweetness of a frappe various and each carries its name. The unsweetened version is called Frappe skétos, the medium sweetened version is called frappe métrios and the very sweet version is called frappe glikós. Is the frappe is made with milk the Greece call it Frappe gala.

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Iced coffee / flash brew / Japanese iced coffee / cooled down warm coffee

The second method of making cold coffee and the first one using fresh coffee is iced coffee. Iced coffee is coffee that is brewed hot but then quickly cooled down over ice cubes. As the coffee was hot at the start and then cooled down this coffee is called iced coffee instead of ice coffee.

Because warm water is used instead of cold water the brew finishes really fast which is convenient. Brewing warm coffee over ice cubes is also known as flash brew coffee. The idea behind the method is that you try to reduce all negative aspects of a cooled down coffee as much as possible. Unfortunately, we all know what a cooled down coffee tastes like and not all negative impacts on flavour can be stopped. Even though the coffee is cooled down fast, an iced coffee will always taste bitter, especially in the aftertaste. This is due to the coffee oxidizing and due to fats turning rancid rapidly after having been dissolved from the coffee. A cooled down warm coffee will always look cloudy instead of the clean cup you get with a cold drip coffee.

If you’re looking for a very quick method to get a cold coffee on a warm day, this is the way to go. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a smooth and balanced coffee with clean cup, this probably is not the method that will satisfy you.

Cold Brewing Methods

Worldwide there’s quite a bit of confusion when it comes to coffee that has been brewed using cold water. The term cold brew is widely known and very popular and basically became the term that was used for a coffee that was brewed cool. Therefore, mistakenly this term is also often used for cold drip coffee (Dutch Coffee) even though this method is completely different from cold brew. Sure, they are similar in using cold water but we’re not calling espresso filter coffee either just because they use warm water right? We will explain more about the differences between both brewing methods and explain in more depth why they differ in flavor.

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Cold brew coffee

Cold brew coffee has been rapidly gaining popularity in the United States over the last decade as it is an easy and convenient way of brew large volumes of cold coffee on warm days. Cold brew coffee is less bitter and acidic than a warm brewed coffee. The method became well known fast when it was also introduced in larger coffee chains.

Cold brew coffee is a method that, as the name indicates, uses cold water. Cold brew is also know as cold press or cold pressed coffee because many people make it at home using their French press. The method can also be brewed using more specialized equipment like a toddy cold brew maker or with a water bottle with an infuser inside. If you don’t have a of these at home don’t worry. A simple sealable (mason)jar and a plain old coffee filter will bring you exactly the same although this might be a bit more messy.

Cold brew coffee is a full immersion method of coffee brewing. This means that you simply grind your coffee grounds and put them in a sealed container with cold water. The only thing you need after this is a 12 to 24 hours of patience and a filter. When the brew is finished you filter out the coffee grounds and your brew is finished.

Unfortunately, cold brew coffee is a brewing method that doesn’t involve movement. This lack of movement makes extraction difficult, especially since molecules in cold water aren’t moving rapidly either. Furthermore, the water that is brewing the coffee gets saturated over time. Therefore, at the end of the brew the water doesn’t have much capacity to extract flavour. This generally results in a brew that misses certain aspects of the coffee that has been used giving the brew an underdeveloped flavour profile. Compared to flash brew coffee we definitely prefer cold brew as it tastes a lot smoother. Unfortunately, cold brews do always taste quite similar and lack a clean cup and crisp aftertaste.

Cold drip coffee

The final method to make a black ice coffee with fresh coffee beans is cold drip coffee. Cold drip coffee is perfect when you are aiming for a clean tasting fully developed coffee. This brewing method is also known as Dutch Coffee in Korea and as Japan. The brewing method thanks its name here to the introduction of coffee that was brewed cold by Dutch traders in the 17 Th century. They used cold water to brew their coffee when they were at see during trade missions between the city Batavia (present day Jakarta) in Indonesia and Japan. And even thought the brewing method never made it back in that time to the Netherlands it remained known as Dutch Coffee in North-East Asia. In Japan the method is also referred to as Kyoto style coffee.

During the brewing process of a cold drip coffee, ice cold water is patiently dripped over freshly ground coffee. This is usually done using a brewing machine called a cold drip tower or a Dutch coffee maker. During each stage of the brew the drops of water falling on the coffee still have the maximum capacity to extract flavours. Therefore, during different stages of the brew you extract different flavours from the coffee grounds. Only when the brew has finished, and the final brew is mixed, you get a layered and rich coffee profile that is unmatched by any other black ice coffee.

An additional advantage of cold drip coffee over cold brew is that there are way more variables to play with. By slightly adjusting the brewing variables you can optimize the brew to exactly match the used coffee. To give an example, in our commercial scale brewery we can modify for different brewing temperatures during different stages of the brew, different presetting times, different brewing times and even different mineral content of the water during different stages of the brew.
This enables you to get the absolute best from any coffee that is used.

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