The most popular ways of drinking coffee are hot and iced. Although it has been said that iced coffee is a combination of hot coffee and ice, there are many who consider it a different kind of coffee altogether.

Many people love to have coffee any time of day, especially when it’s hot outside. But what about those iced coffees you see so many people drinking in the summer?

How do these coffees differ from their hot counterparts? Depending on where you get them, they can be quite different.

Quick Answer: What is the difference between iced coffee and hot coffee?

Iced coffee has a different taste and texture than traditionally hot brewed coffee. The differences are due to water temperature, brewing time, and water-to-coffee ratio.

Iced Coffee vs. Hot Coffee: How Do These Coffees Differ?

Both have their own share of advantages and disadvantages, which I’ll go over in this article.

You’ll learn about the difference in preparation, the caffeine, the acidity, and ultimately, which suits you better!

Iced coffee vs. hot coffee, how do they differ?

When I think of coffee, the first thing that comes to mind is a mug of hot java. But not everyone likes it hot.

There’s a growing trend of individuals who prefer iced coffee over its hot counterpart.

Iced coffee vs. hot coffee.

Let’s take a look at the typical differences between these two beverages and see which one is right for you:

Comparison:Iced coffee:Hot coffee:
Flavor notesSweet and well-balanced flavorRobust and full-bodied flavor
Brewing timeAbout 5 minutesAbout 5 minutes
Caffeine content170 to 220mg of caffeine170 to 220mg of caffeine
AcidityLow acidityMedium acidity
Number of calories50 to 60 calories5 calories
Add-ins?Ice cubes, sugar syrupSugar, milk, coffee creamer
How is it served?Served over iceServed as is

Now that you have a good idea about the differences between iced coffee and hot coffee, you’ll find an in-depth look at all the differences below:

How is hot coffee prepared?

Hot coffee can be prepared using either immersion or drip brewing.

With immersion, the coffee grounds are completely submerged in hot water. This method allows for a longer extraction time, resulting in a fuller-bodied cup of coffee.

An immersion coffee brewer is a French press. It’ll give you a more robust coffee, depending on the technique used.

James Hoffmann’s technique, for example, will produce a more balanced flavor. In comparison, the regular brewing technique will provide a more robust flavor.

"Adding the plunger to the French press beaker."

With drip brewing, the hot water is passed over the coffee grounds in a filter, allowing for a shorter extraction time. This method produces a cleaner-tasting cup of coffee.

Drip coffee can be made using various coffee brewers, including the Hario V60 and Chemex.

Brewing coffee with a Hario V60.

Both are great options to brew some amazing coffee at home. You can check out the pros and cons of the Chemex and Hario V60 by clicking on their name.

There are many ways to prepare hot coffee at home. If you’d like to learn more about brewing coffee at home, you can check out my beginner’s guide here.

What is iced coffee, and how is it made?

Iced coffee can be made using various techniques. You can use hot brewed coffee using one of the many techniques mentioned above, or you can brew coffee straight on ice. Cold brew coffee can also be considered iced coffee.

My favorite way of making iced coffee is using hot brewed coffee and letting it cool down completely before serving it on ice with homemade coffee syrup or milk.

I like that it’s simple to prepare but very different than drinking hot coffee all day long. It’s also very refreshing after a good workout.

You can also make iced pour over coffee, which differs from using hot coffee and cooling it down.

Instead, you’ll use roughly 2/3 hot water, and the remaining 1/3 are ice cubes. Then, you’ll brew the pour over coffee as you’d normally do, but you’ll end up with a less diluted cup of iced coffee.

Making iced pour over coffee at home.

If you’d like to learn more about this exciting technique, you can find a complete step-by-step guide here.

In some cases, cold brew coffee can also be named iced coffee, as it is also served on ice. However, most of the time, it’s just called cold brew coffee and one of the techniques I’ve mentioned above is named iced coffee.

Now that you know about the different ways to make iced coffee at home, let’s get into some more detail about the caffeine content:

Iced coffee vs. hot coffee caffeine difference

The caffeine content in hot coffee is generally higher than in iced coffee. You use less coffee to prepare iced coffee because you’ll add ice, water, or other add-ins like milk to dilute the coffee.

However, when iced coffee is made with espresso, like iced espresso, it has a higher caffeine content than hot coffee.

Iced espresso recipe.
Iced espresso

Espresso has more caffeine per volume than regular coffee. So, if you like your coffee strong, an espresso-based drink is a better choice than a standard hot cup of coffee.

Brewed coffee has between 170 and 220mg of caffeine, depending on the brewing technique that is used.

  • French press coffee has a higher caffeine content, coming in at 220mg of caffeine.
  • Meanwhile, pour over coffee has just 170mg of caffeine. (source)

Tip: You can also add an espresso shot to your brewed coffee and make a red eye coffee!

Does iced coffee have more calories than hot coffee?

The answer to this question really depends on the ingredients used in each type of coffee.

Iced coffee generally has more calories than hot coffee. Hot coffee typically has about five calories, while iced coffee can have up to 50 or 60. The extra calories in iced coffee are often from added syrups, creams, and milk.

But this depends on how you like to drink your coffee at home. If you like to drink your iced and hot coffee black, then they’ll both have virtually no calories.

Once you add a bit of sugar to your hot coffee or coffee syrup for iced coffee, you’ll increase the number of calories.

Cinnamon brown sugar syrup.
Cinnamon brown sugar syrup

The same goes for adding a splash of milk to your coffee or cold foam to your favorite iced coffee.

However, if you make iced coffee at home using skim milk or water instead of cream or milk, the calorie difference between hot and iced coffee will be minimal.

So, it’s important to be aware of what ingredients are used when ordering or preparing iced coffee drinks.

Remember, you can always ask your barista what kind of ingredients they add to your favorite iced coffee.

Iced coffee vs. hot coffee, which is the better pick?

You might already have a new favorite now that you’ve read about the differences between iced coffee and hot coffee.

But, if you’re unsure which might be the better pick for you, then the following might help you:

  • Iced coffee is the better pick as it’s refreshing and invigorating, and it’s a great way to cool down on a hot day.
  • On the other hand, hot coffee can be a little more time-consuming to make (especially if you’re trying to make a good cup of pour over coffee), and it can be difficult to drink when it’s hot outside.
Iced coffee vs. hot coffee comparison.
Iced coffee on the left. Hot coffee on the right

It’s really about the taste and mouthfeel that you enjoy the most. Weather also plays a big part in my daily coffee routine.

The hotter it gets outside, the more I like to drink iced coffee over hot coffee. While hot coffee is my absolute favorite in the winter, I prefer iced coffee in the summer.

Decide what’s important for you. Do you like a slightly sweeter and refreshing coffee? Then, an iced coffee is a great pick.

If you’re looking for a tasty cup of coffee to enjoy without any sweeteners added, then a hot cup of coffee might be the better pick for you.

Related coffee comparison articles

Are you wondering how iced coffee and normal hot coffee compare to other coffees?

Great! Check out the articles below for more in-depth coffee comparisons:

And to compare more coffees, visit the coffee comparison hub!


I’ve discussed the difference between iced coffee and hot coffee, and you now know about the differences between them.

You might want to think about that the next time you’re at your local café. Iced coffee is so popular because it’s more refreshing than a hot, steamy cup of joe.

Depending on the weather outside, you might want to switch things up. Both coffees are a great pick anyway, so choose the coffee you’re drawn to the most and enjoy it!

Do you like reading about various coffee recipes? Check out some delicious recipes below:

Coffee recipes to try

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