Pouring iced chilled black coffee

Learn 3 different ways coffee is brewed for chilled coffee.

Have you noticed that chilled or iced coffee is no longer just one thing? Why do some places offer chilled coffee in four different ways? What's the difference between them? And is one style better than the others?


In the past, cold or iced coffee was typically a processed drink that came in bottles or cartons, often loaded with sugar and leaving you with a stomach ache. However, nowadays, almost every specialty coffee shop offers a different kind of chilled version.


Iced lattes and iced long blacks made from espresso are now being replaced by filter-brewed iced coffees. This is because filter coffee can deliver more delicate flavours and can be made in batch-style methods.

Let's take a look at some of the most common styles of cold coffee, such as cold batch, cold brew, and cold drip, and why a cafe might choose one method over another.


Cold-batch coffee is made by brewing filter-roasted coffee in batch brewing equipment, such as a Moccamaster or Ratio brewer. This method involves brewing water through ground coffee for a pre-set and automated amount of time, similar to a modern-day fancy percolator. Baristas and roasters use this method to showcase single-origin coffees that have been roasted to suit filter brew methods on a large-ish scale. The coffee is brewed hot and then chilled down to create a 'cold batch'. This method is best suited to black coffee drinkers, as the coffees used are generally lighter roasted, which produces more delicate flavours. Busy cafes might batch brew coffee multiple times a day, and the coffee brewed is generally chosen specifically for the filter brews.


Cold Brew coffee is another popular method due to its batch-style process. This method involves immersing pre-ground roasted coffee into a material filter bag, which is then submersed into a large amount of cold water and left to brew for several hours, often overnight. The coffee grinds are then removed, and the brewed liquid is refrigerated and served as required. Coffees brewed using this method are generally chosen for their overall balance, not necessarily filter roasts, and often, but not necessarily, single origins. Cold brew is best made using coffees with a good body and distinct flavours that shine through. The resulting coffee should have a smooth and sweet flavour profile and is often diluted with milk or water afterwards. Cold brew is also sold in large amounts, either bottled or canned.

And thirdly…

We have Cold Drip coffee. True to its name this coffee drips, slooooowly for a long period. I'm talking one drop per second slow,  generally over 8-12 hours depending on the ratio and amount of coffee. This method requires a fancy piece of apparatus, (cold drip stand) that you might see perched up on the bench of your local café.

This method involves adding ground coffee into a vessel, placing a small filter paper on top, and slowly dripping cold water from another canister onto the coffee grinds. The resulting brew is super-concentrated and often sweet-tasting. Due to the long brew time and prolonged contact with the grinds, the coffee is strong and has a liqueur-like taste.

Although cold drip coffee looks fancy as it brews, it is not as popular as other brew methods because the equipment is expensive and the brew time is extended, resulting in a lower yield compared to cold brew or batch brew. Baristas cannot prepare made-to-order cold drip coffee, but instead brew it well ahead of time and store it to chill and serve later.

All three of these methods can also have their downsides, most commonly present after being over-extracted or left to sit around too long after being brewed which increases the TDS (total dissolved solids) present in the cup leaving a bitter and unpleasant flavour. Success like in all brewed coffee will also always depend on the skill of the brewer, the recipes used, and the coffees chosen. 

But, there we have it, well almost, there are about 1000 ish ;) other ways to brew coffee and serve it cold, but that's three common ways, to best enjoy chilled filter coffee.

Next time you’re in your local café take note of how they offer their iced coffees, is it one of these methods? Filter brewed or immersion?  Maybe challenge yourself to make this your next coffee exploration, to see which you prefer. Perhaps you'll even notice the odd cheeky cold brew, being wrongly advertised as a cold batch.

but it's all cool, cos now you know the difference behind the three main chilled players.



The Next Blog Coming Soon…

Can I use a Filter Roast in my Espresso machine? 

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