Cold Brew vs Flash Brew: WTF?

Posted by Ben Cram on

Iced coffee and cold brew are thrown around interchangeably, but do you really know the difference between them? What about Flash Brew?

First, lets debunk a myth: neither method involves brewing normal coffee and adding ice to it. This method, at its best, will yield ok-tasting cold coffee that gets watered down really quickly as the ice melts.

How is cold brew coffee made?

Cold brew is made with no heat in the process. At the 2010 world barista championship in Bogata, Colombia, we represented Canada with our cold brew recipes. We used a Japanese cold brew drip tower. This is a very slow gentle method of dripping cold water through a bed of coffee. This yields a clean transparent cold brew with no sediment or cloudiness. It is very sweet and has a high caffeine content. The resulting cold brew can be enjoyed straight or mixed with almost anything you can imagine. We currently use a scaled up version of this style of brewer for the base to our cold brew sodas.

Another common cold brew method is immersion, where coffee is left in ice water to steep, producing a rich body and mouthfeel. Immersion is easily done with a French press at home.

How to: Immersion cold brew
  • Fill your French press with your usual dose of coffee and top with ice cubes and water.
  • Leave this in your fridge overnight and then plunge in the morning.

How to make Flash Brew Coffee

Flash brewed iced coffee is made using hot water brewed into ice. Flash brew is what we refer to as “iced coffee” in our shops.

  • Brew a filter coffee over ice.
  • Reduce the brew water by roughly the volume of ice you are brewing into so that when the ice melts, you have a perfect strength cold coffee. Flash brew tastes closer to a cold version of a given coffee than its cold brewed counterpart would. 

Looking for recipes to use these methods in?

Our cafe staff shared their favourites for both cold brew and flash brew here


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