Cold Brew vs Cold Drip Coffee: A Detailed Comparison

By Evelina •  Updated: 06/29/21 •  7 min read

The Short Answer:

Cold brew coffee is a relatively new method of coffee making and has been growing in popularity in recent years. In contrast to cold drip coffee, it uses the process of full immersion to extract the coffee from the beans. Cold drip coffee on the other hand is made by the process of slowly dripping cold water over coffee grounds that is then filtered into a carafe. Both ways can be time-consuming but are definitely worth it!

So, how do you choose between a Cold Brew Coffee and a Cold Drip Coffee?

In this article, we will be comparing the cold brew and cold drip coffee methods!

The Cold Brew

What is Cold Brew Coffee?

Cold brew coffee is made by steeping coarsely ground coffee beans in cold water for around 12 to 48 hours. This produces a highly concentrated beverage that can be diluted and become lighter, with water or milk to the consumer’s desired strength. You can add coffee ice cubes or your favorite syrup!

Related Article: Cold Brew Coffee History

How Cold Brew Coffee is Made

Cold brew coffee is made by putting coarsely ground coffee beans in a container and covering them with cold water. The container is left for 12 to 48 hours, stirring once or twice during those hours. It is then strained through a mesh filter to remove the grounds, and served over ice.

Related Article: Best Coffee for Cold Brew

The Cold Brew Advantages:

Cold brewed coffee is generally less acidic. It also lacks bitterness from high-temperature extraction of the coffee beans, and has a smoother mouthfeel. Hence it’s considered more pleasing by many people.

Another advantage to cold brew is that cold brewing breaks down the compounds that give some coffees their flavor characteristics. For instance, as a result of cold brewing, many coffees lose much of their acidity and bitterness and develop sweet undertones.

This makes cold brew ideal for sweetening milk-based drinks or to be used in mixes such as lattes and other iced drinks.

The Cold Brew Disadvantages:

The main disadvantage of cold brewing is that it takes a long time. The longer the coffee is soaked, the more complex and sweetened it will become.

There are also some chemicals that may be released into the coffee, caused by roasting and extraction processes. For this reason, many cafés will try to filter two times the cold brew before serving to reduce those compounds.


The Cold Drip

cold brew vs cold drip coffee

What Is A Cold Drip?

Cold drip is not as concentrated as cold brew, but it takes much longer to make. The coffee grounds are steeped in a container of water for several hours and then allowed to drip into another container below.

How Cold Drip Coffee is Made

To begin, fill a glass jar halfway with very cold water. The chilly water slowly drops into a container containing freshly ground coffee grinds via a valve. After that, the mixture is filtered. As a result, the coffee’s scent and caffeine are flushed out by the continuous droplets of water.

Lastly, the cold drip coffee accumulates beneath the filter in a glass cup. Preparing cold drip coffee is a time-consuming operation.

Cold drip is a coffee brewing methodology that involves gradually dripping cold water via freshly ground coffee and based on your taste choices, the brewing time can range from 2~24 hours.

The Cold Drip Advantages:

Cold drip coffee is an art form: It’s an easy way to make a single serving of coffee, which means that you can enjoy the same cup of coffee over and over again.

Since cold drip involves steeping and dripping hot water over ground coffee, it also brings out the most flavor possible from your coffee beans. It also has a much stronger flavor than cold brew because the grounds are not filtered or strained out.

The Cold Drip Disadvantages:

Cold drip coffee requires a lot of preparation. It takes longer and, since it involves steeping, can sometimes produce soggy grounds.

Also, cold drip methods are much more painstaking to make than cold brew methods. They require a lot of planning and careful measuring in order to get the result you want.


Frequently Asked Questions

Is cold brew or cold drip stronger?

Many people who drink dark, thick-bodied coffees (such as Kenya AA and Sumatra) prefer the flavor of cold brew coffee because of the concentration and lack of bitterness. People who drink light-bodied coffees (such as Colombian and Costa Rican) tend to prefer cold drip because it lends a more natural sweetness to the coffee.

Can you use drip coffee for cold brew?

No. Cold brew is made by steeping coarsely ground coffee beans in cold water for at least 12 hours. This produces a highly concentrated beverage that can be cut with water or milk to the consumer’s desired strength.

How long does cold drip last?

It depends on how much you are actually making. If you are making one cup at a time, it will be about 6 hours. However, if you are making more than that in a single batch then it may last for several days.

This is because the process of cold drip brewing is slow and takes time to extract the flavors from your coffee grounds. The slow extraction works together with the ice-cold water to produce a flavorful beverage. It really does make quite the difference compared to other types of iced coffee or regular hot brews!

Other factors can affect how long your cold drip lasts before it goes bad, however. Room temperature is one factor that affects this, because warm temperatures speed up chemical reactions while cool temperatures slow them down. So even though room temperate doesn’t affect the taste of cold drip, it does affect how long it lasts.

Cold temperature is also a factor that affects cold drip’s shelf-life. So if you’re going to leave your coffee sitting out on a table for several hours instead of just half an hour, then expect the flavor to go stale quickly. Again though, this doesn’t change the taste – just how long it will last before going bad!

Are Cold Brew and Japanese Cold Brew the same?

No they are not! Cold brew coffee is made by steeping coarsely ground coffee beans in cold water for around 12 to 48 hours. On the other hand, Japanese cold brew is made by adding ice to hot water and letting it sit for 5 minutes. The Japanese method is a great way to make iced coffee quickly.

Last Thoughts

Though both are useful in various ways, cold brew and cold drip have different drawbacks but they mostly have amazing traits and various excellent characteristics. If you like dark-roasted coffee beans and don’t mind waiting to enjoy your coffee, then cold brew is an excellent method of brewing coffee beans.

However, if you like lighter roasts that do not match with the cold brew, then cold drip may be a good option between time spent, brewing process and unique flavor.


Evelina’s passion for coffee could never been hidden. Having worked as a barista, she learned the true value of the coffee bean and its secrets. As she continued to evolve as a barista, so did her knowledge, techniques on making different coffee blends and most importantly how to operate every kind of gear when it comes to coffee. Having a degree in biomedicine and being a barista, allows her to provide our community with in-depth knowledge surrounding the topics of coffee.