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Cold Brew, Iced Coffee, and Flash Brew: How to distinguish

Upgraded from the hot version, cool coffee provides refreshment and also an inspiration for different versions to come – including Cold Brew, Iced Coffee, and Flash Brew. Whichever drink you’re familiar with, make sure it’s different from the other two. It’s hard to say which is better, but from the origin to the preparation process and the taste of each, there is a certain difference. Let’s check it out!


  • Cold Brew refers to a brewing method in which the entire process of steeping coffee beans completely in cold water for a long period, resulting in a coffee with a smooth flavor, high in caffeine, and low in acid.
  • Iced Coffee refers to the traditional method of brewing coffee with hot water in a short extraction time, about 10 minutes, to obtain a coffee with a long-lasting aroma and rich taste.
  • Flash Brewed Coffee, or Japanese-style Iced Coffee, refers to a method of making iced coffee that does not require chilling time but still retains its full flavor.

The main differences between Flash Brew, Cold Brew, and Iced Coffee

Preparation process

Cold Brew appeared in 1922 in Cuba. The merchants on large ships finely ground coffee beans, placed the coffee powder in a container, and poured cold water into the pot until the entire coffee was fully soaked in the water. The result after a few days will be a high concentration of coffee with a unique flavor. Today, Cold Brew is made the same way in a ratio of 50:50, then stored at room temperature for 12-24 hours. This will create a strong coffee, which you can mix with water or milk.

As one of the most popular choices among coffee lovers, Iced Coffee is said to have appeared in the Mazagran war between France and the Arabs in Algeria. The drink is prepared with hot water, allowed to cool, then chilled or served with ice, often sweetened as preferred. You can make your coffee thicker by doubling the amount of ground coffee to prevent dilution.

Originating in Japan in the 1960s, Flash Brew Coffee is processed quite similar to the traditional way of making Iced Coffee – pour hot water over the coffee grounds and immediately flow into the ice bucket below to chill the liquid, which happens pretty quickly. However, you need to reduce the amount of water to make up for the amount of ice used.

Caffeine content

Of all three, Cold Brew yields the highest caffeine content. Each 950ml of Cold Brew contains approximately 65mg of caffeine. Meanwhile, with 230ml, Flash Brew features about 140mg; and with 473ml, Iced Coffee has 165mg.


As the brewing process is dissimilar, their tastes are also different. Cold Brew shows more flavor of roasting coffee beans because the substances in the beans are not lost in hot water; moreover, its sweet taste and mild acidity are often considered suitable for women. Iced Coffee is more bitter and sour, so drinkers tend to sweeten or flavor their cup of joe. Speaking of Flash Brew, since hot water releases the coffee’s oils, the coffee still has the classic bitterness, acidity, and typical aromas of the bean.

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