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Cold Brew vs. Iced Coffee — Which Has More Caffeine?

In a world that’s already divided by iced coffee versus hot coffee, it’s exhausting to think that there’s another kind of iced coffee on the market, further dividing the population. But, alas, here we are. While we’d choose iced coffee over hot coffee (even in 14°F weather), when it comes to choosing between iced coffee and cold brew coffee, our decision is less simple. One crucial (if not, the most crucial) factor in choosing what kind of coffee makes sense for you, at any given moment, comes down to how much caffeine your choice coffee has. Assuming you’re also living in a world in which cold coffee is always the answer, we figured it’d be useful to understand how the caffeine contents of each breakdown.

THE SIMPLE CAFFEINE BREAKDOWN:

ICED COFFEE: A typical 16-oz. iced coffee has ~165 mg of caffeine.

COLD BREW: A typical 16-oz. cold brew has ~200 mg of caffeine. So, in the simplest of terms, cold brew has more caffeine than iced coffee (and, depending on how it’s brewed sometimes it can be nearly double that of its cold coffee counterpart!) But, why is there such a huge difference in the caffeine contents of these drinks?

THE BREW SAYS IT ALL

It all comes down to how each one is brewed. Iced coffee is brewed as regular coffee, which then goes through a cooling process and is served over ice. Cold brew, on the other hand, is created by steeping ground coffee at room temperature and then filtering out the grounds. So, it’s essentially the most concentrated version of coffee you can get. Once you filter out the grounds, the concentrate is combined with water for (generally) a 50/50 coffee concentrate/water split, and TA-DA! You have cold brew.

Choosing between iced coffee and hot coffee is simple (ice, ice forever and ever, baby). But, choosing between cold brew and iced coffee? A little less simple. If you like bolder flavors and you’re looking for a larger jolt in the a.m., cold brew’s for you. But, if the motto “stronger is better” isn’t quite your speed, sticking to good ol’ iced coffee is always a solid bet.