What Tastes Better: Hot or Cold Brewed Coffee?

I’d like to know which tastes better: hot brewed iced coffee or cold brewed iced coffee. I’ll be treating my specimens exactly the same with the exception of the water temperature. One will be cold and the other will be hot. Iced coffee needs to be made from concentrate so I’ll be using one part coffee and 4 parts water. I’m using 3 ounces of coarse ground coffee that was fresh roasted the day before and just about 12 fluid ounces of cold filtered water for each container I allowed one to sit at room temperature and the other I heated up to 200°F.

I pour the water over the grounds and then stir gently so that the water will saturate all the grounds and brew evenly. I cover both of them and let them steep for at least 8 hours and in my case overnight. After 13 hours I filtered out the grounds by using a few layers of cheesecloth and then poured the coffee into another container. As you can see the cold water brew resulted in one cup of concentrate while the hot water proof resulted in just a half a cup of concentrate, obviously this is due to the boiling and cooling process.

Before I continue I’m sure you’re probably wondering why I have decided to do this experiment I hate to admit it, but the only time I make my own iced coffee is because I had leftover coffee from earlier that morning. Its leftover coffee and I don’t want to waste it so I put it in the fridge to turn into ice coffee later by pouring it over ice and adding milk and sugar. I’ve read about advocates for hot brewed iced coffee and for cold brew iced coffee each claiming their method is the best with different tweaks involved. So I wondered what tastes differences actually result between coffee being brewed hot and then cooled and coffee brewed cold and then cooled some more obviously some science and the precise brewing methodology need to be involved to get the perfect taste. But for this experiment I’m only interested in taste difference, what flavors come out, what nuisances are suppressed by the difference in the brewing temperatures alone.

I prepared to iced drinks from my hot brewed coffee concentrate. One is one part coffee concentrate with 3 parts water and the other is one part coffee concentrate with 2 parts water and one part milk all of them over ice. And they basically did the same thing with my cold brewed concentrates. I first tasted each drink without sugar than with half a tablespoon of sugar a second time. Here are the results according to my taste buds.

The hot brewed coffee gave out a sharp and pungent aroma with a lot of bitterness which was almost tongue curling, seriously. There was also a strong bitter aftertaste as well as a rough mouth feel. The roughness and bitterness is mitigated by adding milk, but it was still present. As for the cold with ice coffee I experienced a hint of sweetness in the aroma it gave out a melatonin taste and some earthly aftertaste. It also definitely had a smooth mouthfeel, which was made smoother and creamier by adding milk to it. Adding milk also gave out a more refreshing taste to the drink.

And now the verdict I think that cold brewed iced coffee results in a more mellow tasting iced coffee which also results in a creamier, smoother, and more refreshing drink when milk is added. It also seems to me that milk does not do much for the hot brew method for iced coffee as it does for cold brewed. This is not to say that hot brewed coffee will never taste good iced but now that we know how the difference in temperature affects the taste of coffee we can tweak other factors to find the best method to suit our tastes.

Because let’s face it some people would rather not have milk or sugar in their coffee or that some actually prefer the coffee to have a sharp and some bitterness to it. Those folks would just need to find the right method for their hot brewed iced coffee. To find a hot spot for our taste buds we can tweak the following factors: coffee origin, brewing method, brew time and temperature, cooling time, and coffee to water ratio. For example, I know that exposing coffee to hot water speeds up the exposure to oxygen and coffee did not like being exposed to oxygen, which is most likely the reason for the less than stellar results for the hot brewed method. For this experiment the main tweaking for that should be to figure out how to brew hot and quickly cool to drink in order to minimize the exposure to oxygen that way we can get the best tasting brew for that method.