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Cold Brew: Expectations vs. Reality

We all have expectations, but they often differ from reality. You expect a lot of things – you expect people to act a certain way, you expect systems to work, you expect beliefs to be accurate, and you even expect stuff about coffee.

You expect it to taste a certain way, make you energized, have a certain price, etc. But I’m here to tell you that you are wrong. At least when it comes to cold brew coffee. Maybe it is because cold brew coffee is a much newer phenomenon than regular hot coffee is for most coffee drinkers. But what’s the difference?


Cold Brew – What’s the Difference?

Cold brew is, as you probably know, brewed using cold water, and this gives the coffee a whole other character. The taste is different, the feel is different, and there is also a difference in how you serve and handle this delicious caffeine beverage.

Some of the expectations you have for cold brew will probably change after the first time you try it. But some lives on…. Until now. Here are 7 cold brew expectations vs. reality.


Expectations vs. Reality – 7 Cold Brew Misconceptions


1 – “Cold brew should only be served cold”

The word “Cold” is even in the name! Of course it should be served cold…. Or should it? A lot of people actually enjoy their cold brew hot, surprised? As I wrote above, cold brewing gives the coffee another character and taste profile. So, if you prefer the taste of cold brew but still want hot coffee, you actually might want to heat it before drinking.

Of course, cold brew is most often served cold. But, the reality is that you can drink it hot, and a lot of cold brew lovers in the DripBeans Facebook-group says that they really enjoy it.


Coffee is a labor intensive process - coffee beans cooling


2 – “Cold brew is sharp and acidic”

You’re right. Coffee is often acidic and has recognizable sharpness to it. However, this is not true for cold brew. Cold brew is actually, very different because of how it is brewed, very smooth, and has a natural sweetness to it. Very different from most other coffees.

That said, also, when it comes to hot brewed coffee, there is a difference between different sorts of coffee and coffee beans. Lower quality has often been feeling sharper and not as balanced as freshly roasted high quality coffee beans.


3 – “Cold brew is very expensive”

Is cold brew expensive? Well, I guess it depends on what we compare it with. Compared to regular coffee, there is no difference really. Cold brew might sometimes be more expensive than other coffees because you need a bit more coffee beans for brewing. However, often you don’t use that many additional ingredients, which might lower the price.

If we take a look at the prices in a coffee shop, cold brew is often priced the same as a latte or cappuccino. For example, at Starbucks NYC reserve roastery, where a cardamom latte costs $8.5, and a glass of cold brew goes for $7.


If you make your cold brew yourself, the cost mostly depends on what coffee beans you get. You can use high-end coffee like DripBeans coffee beans, but you can also use cheaper coffee that you get from your grocery store or Amazonfresh.  If you brew your own cold brew, the price can be anywhere between $0.15 and $1.7 (or even higher).


I guess the question really is – why is coffee so expensive?


Coffee shops are the most expensive for coffee


4 – “Cold brewing is difficult”

If you’ve never brewed your own cold brew, it might seem like it is difficult, and you might think it involves a lot of steps. But this is not the reality.

You only need 2 things + water, and those things are:

  • Coffee (beans or ground coffee)
  • Brewing device


Of course, if you use whole beans coffee, you’ll also need a coffee grinder of some sort. When it comes to brewing device, you could use a cold brew maker, but you can use any container in combination with a filter—for example, a French press.

The steps are straightforward as well! You can check out our cold brew video guide if you want to learn more about how to make your own cold brew.


5 – “You need as much milk for cold brew as for regular coffee”

This is what I thought at first. When I drink hot brewed coffee, I always add milk. I know that many coffee experts believe this is a waste of good coffee, but that is how I like it.

When it comes to cold brew, I never add milk. Sometimes I add a milk foam (for example, hazelnut cold foam), and when I started to drink cold brew I always added milk as well, but I would never do it nowadays.

Cold brew is very smooth, and there is a natural sweetness to it. In other words, there is no need to add milk. Most of those who still like to add milk to their cold brew often only add a small splash, otherwise the milk will be too overpowering, and a lot of the cold brew taste will disappear.


Testing Coffee Beans and Roasts


6 – “Cold brew has less caffeine than regular coffee”

This is a normal misconception, and I guess it’s born from the smoother coffee tasty. After all, it would make sense that if less taste is extracted, less caffeine content is extracted as well.

And that is actually true! Cold water extracts less caffeine than hot water. But the difference is not as big as for taste. Especially not when you adjust for the much longer brewing time you use for cold brew coffee.


But, still, hot coffee extracts more caffeine. However, this is only true when you use an equal amount of coffee, and the coffee-to-water ratio is often much higher for cold brew. Serving size is also a crucial parameter, and you usually drink bigger servings of cold brew than hot coffee.

So, in the end, a glass of cold brew often contains much more caffeine. Most often somewhere around 200-300mg/glass.


7 – “Coffee and cold brew is unhealthy”

Coffee can indeed be unhealthy, but more often than not, coffee is linked to health benefits and a decrease in mortality. It is primarily the caffeine in the coffee that is linked to these benefits. Some of them are:

  • Lower risk for cancer
  • Lower risk for type-2 diabetes
  • Lower risk for Alzheimer’s and dementia
  • Lower risk for depression
  • Great source of antioxidants
  • Helps you burn calories and fat
  • Lower risk for heart diseases (CHD and Stroke)


These are some of the health benefits from coffee, but cold brew brings even more benefits. Cold brewing doesn’t extract near as much acid (67% less) from the coffee as hot brewing. Therefore, for people with a sensitive stomach or IBS, cold brew probably is a better choice.


That said, coffee can cause problems. Especially if you have high blood pressure or for some other reason should avoid caffeine. However, there are, of course, decaf coffees available.

I wrote more in depth about all these benefits and some more in a blog post I posted here on the DripBeans blog –  “11 Cold Brew Benefits”.


caramel topped almond coffee frappuccino


BONUS – “This batch will last for the whole week.”

Probably the most common false expectation. No batch never lasts for as long as planned. At least not for me, and I have heard the same from many of the members in our DripBeans community.



Coffee is deeply rooted in our culture and this makes us expect certain things. For example how it should taste, temperature, price, at what time on the day we drink it, etc. But everything isn’t as we expect. Who would think that cold brew would taste the way it does before they tried it? Did you? I surely did not. Therefore I added milk to it, I thought caffeine content was lower, etc.

Our expectations often differ from reality, and isn’t that wonderful? This makes us keeping to explore and be curious, which I think is great! Because the world would be a very boring place if everything was as expected.


Thank you for reading. Feel free to share this with any coffee interest friend you have or on social media. You can use the buttons to the left (or at the bottom if you read this on a phone) to share. Thank you!

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Written by Anton

If you like what you read, go to the blog for more posts by Anton and other authors. 

“I am one of the persons behind DripBeans, which we started because we were tired of coffee being boring or snobby. Coffee should be fun and exciting. If you are like me you love cold brew and want to be a part of a great community where we share recipes, thought and happiness. That is what DripBeans is trying to do!”

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