Cold Brew VS. Espresso: The Old Classic Or The Newest Coffee Craze?

Coffee is not just a drink anymore, as it has become a part of our culture. The coffee world has seen the emergence of new drinks as well as the revival of many traditional old coffee drinks. And now, coffee connoisseurs have found a lot to say about an old classic, cold brew coffee.

This naturally has sparked a zealous debate about cold brew vs. espresso – and we’re here to pitch in our two cents.

So, what’s a cold brew? It’s a brewing method that steeps the coffee in cold water overnight. Although it’s new on the menu, the brewing method isn’t.

Anything new that emerges in the coffee scenario has to duke it out with the traditionalists’ choice of weapon, the espresso. So, we’ve dedicated this article to cold brew and espresso, their differences, and some popular variants of them.

What Is Cold Brew?

Cold brew is probably the most popular coffee drink that has the easiest implementation method. Just brew the coffee with cold water instead of hot for a maximum of 18–20 hours. That’s what makes its brewing process unique as well as different from traditional coffee brewing methods.

Cold brew coffee always has a different set of flavor profiles but a lower amount of caffeine content (when compared to espresso and drip coffee). To make cold brew coffee you’ll need to use a different coffee-to-water ratio.

Preferably, a 1:8 coffee-to-water ratio is used for overnight brewing. For a liter, you’ll need 125 grams of coffee. You can either sip it as black coffee or add milk, sugar, or other additives to it. The coffee beans for cold brew coffee should be coarsely ground.

What Is Espresso?

Espresso is an old Italian classic. Espresso has one of the most unique brewing methods like no other. It uses high pressure to run hot water through finely-ground coffee beans. Because of the high pressure, the brewing process is very short. That’s why espresso is a concentrated and more potent drink.

Espresso is a strong drink, hence served in small shots. Espresso is used for all the milky hot coffee drinks that are enjoyed in most cafés around the world. Cappuccino, Latte, Macchiato, Flat White, and Cortado are all different variants of espresso.

An espresso machine is an ideal device for making espresso. Espresso brewing requires some finely ground coffee beans.

Differentiating Cold Brew And Espresso

Cold BrewEspresso
TasteLess acidic with a lot more smooth dark flavorsNutty, robust, creamy, earthy, chocolaty, and caramel
OriginKyoto (Japan)Italy
AcidityLess acidicHighly acidic
Caffeine Levels (per ounce)20 mg64 mg
Water TemperatureColdHot
Grind SizeCoarseFine
Brewing Length16–24 hours1–2 minutes
Pairs Best WithSweet and SourSweet and Savory
ConsistencyWatery, smooth, refreshing, sweet, and lightThick, creamy, and heavy
Cost (per cup)$4.00 – 6.00$2.00 – 3.00
Health BenefitsGood for your stomach, very low on acidity, increases metabolism, and refreshes the mood.A good amount of antioxidants and magnesium, good for energy and concentration


Cold brew feels very distinct from all the other hot brews. Its acidity is very low and it has more chocolaty to nutty flavors with an earthiness. It also lacks the typical coffee smell.

On the other hand, espresso is full of rich flavors. It has an intense but surprisingly well-balanced intensity and can be bitter to expose its smoky undertones.

You will sip more flavor and aroma from a cup of espresso than from a cold brew, that’s for sure.


Cold brew originated in Kyoto, Japan. The Kyoto-style cold brew employs a slow drip method to extract the deep flavors and aromas of the coffee.

Espresso, as we all know, originated in Turin, Italy in the late 19th century. Espresso has since become the most popular type of coffee drink in Italy and Eastern Europe.

Acidity Levels

Cold brew has less acidity than espresso, even less than iced coffee. It’s because the acidity in coffee is proportional to the high water temperature. As cold brew requires slow steeping into cold water, the acids don’t get released as much.

Espresso, conversely, has a higher acidity level as it requires water to be very hot. Also, the fact that the high pressure of hot water squeezes out the acids into the water. The concentration of espresso also makes it more acidic.

Caffeine Counts

A cold brew is always served in a much larger quantity than an espresso. Normally, the cold brew serving size ranges from 16–20 oz. The caffeine content in a 16 oz. cold brew is 200 ~ 205 mg.

Espresso is always served in a smaller amount. A traditional cup of espresso with no additives can be as little as 2 oz. A 2-ounce espresso holds as much as 130 mg of caffeine in it.

So, in summary, cold brew per ounce has less caffeine when compared to espresso. But due to their serving size difference, cold brew ends up being a more caffeinated drink than espresso.

Water Temperatures

Cold brew needs a lower temperature for steeping, so it uses cold water. This style of brewing makes the coffee easier on the stomach as well as avoids the “jittery” feeling for some people who experience it after drinking coffee.

The short, concentrated extraction requires hot water. When brewed, espresso is around 200 degrees Fahrenheit. This high water temperature extracts more of the beans’ oils and flavors. Plus, Italians like their coffee hot, no matter the technique.

Grind Sizes

For cold brew now, it’s somewhere between medium and coarse ground. The coffee grounds will be in contact with the water for a longer period to release the deeper flavors of the coffee and avoid over-extraction.

Espresso grounds have to be very fine grounds. Because it’s the optimal grind level that can make the espresso rich and creamy. This fine ground level helps to create an even passing of water as it is pushed through the coffee grounds, which in turn helps to extract more of the flavors from the beans.

Brewing Lengths

The fundamental idea of cold brew is to make a long, slow, and mild brew. That’s why the coffee is submerged in the water for a very long period (16–24 hours) to extract all of the deep flavor notes without making it bitter.

Espresso, on the other hand, is a much faster, fresher, and quicker café-style method. It takes no more than 2 minutes to prepare a hot cup of espresso.


For regular home coffee drinkers, cold brew is a lifesaver. Not only is the drink delicious, but it’s also less troublesome to prepare. Cold brewing doesn’t require a coffee machine. Just a sufficient amount of good coffee beans, grind them, and voila, you’re ready to add water and refrigerate overnight! But it requires a lot of brewing time. That’s why cold brew’s cost per cup is higher than espresso.

Espresso, on the other hand, requires an extensive array of hardware and good-quality espresso beans. Most of the devices involved in the espresso-making process are high-cost and high-maintenance. Espresso beans are always more expensive than regular coffee beans.

Yet, espresso has the most demand among drinkers. So, even if espresso demands a costlier setup, espresso cost per cup is less than cold brew.

Health Benefits

Cold brew has more antioxidants and is less acidic than a regular cup of espresso. This is because the cold gives the coffee beans a lot of time to get into the water. It’s an ideal smooth coffee option for those who don’t like strong coffee drinks or have tummy issues.

On the other hand, espresso, on the other hand, improves moods and concentration levels helps to combat type-2 diabetes, and helps to lose weight. Also, espresso offers less caffeine than cold brew (per serving).

What Is Cold Brew Espresso?

Between all these debates and discussions on the “cold brew vs. espresso” topic, we received a curve ball – Cold Brew Espresso. Whether you’re angry or laughing your head off reading this, we can all agree that cold brew espresso is seriously good and growing in popularity.

Now, the obvious question is, what the hell is cold brew espresso?

The answer is simply in the following two sentences:

Its brewing method is nothing different; it follows a general cold brew-making procedure.

The only difference is that you have to use espresso coffee grounds instead of the coarse coffee grounds people generally use for cold brews.

The resultant coffee is less acidic and less bitter than regular espresso. The flavor is more chocolatey and mellower with hints of sweetness.

Differentiating Some Of Their Popular Variants

Shaken Espresso VS. Cold Brew

Despite popular belief, shaken espresso wasn’t invented by Starbucks. It was derived from a popular Italian iced espresso drink known as “Shakerato“.

Traditionally, it includes ice, single or double shots of espresso, and sugar or syrup. They all get shaken up in a cocktail shaker.

It’s a chilled, light, frothy, and refreshing cup of espresso.

The Starbucks version includes milk or cream as well, to provide an extra layer of froth.

Cold brew includes a 1:8 coffee-to-water ratio mix that gets chilled in the fridge for 16–24 hours. You can also add milk and sugar to enhance its taste and texture of it.

Iced Espresso VS. Cold Brew

An iced espresso is simply an espresso served over ice and often with milk as well. It’s close to an iced coffee, but it’s made with double shots of espresso instead of brewed coffee.

You can add milk, syrups, and sweeteners to it before serving. Iced espresso is bolder in flavor and more concentrated than standard iced coffee.

“Cold brew” has nothing to do with ice cubes. It steeps overnight in a cold place (a fridge), thus making it a cold brew.

Nitro Cold Brew VS. Espresso

And you thought cold brew espresso was crazy. Nitro cold brew is the craziest coffee drink that’s going around right now.

It follows all the general cold brewing procedures. The only big difference is that nitrogen is added after brewing.

The addition of nitrogen makes the coffee creamier, sweeter, and foamier on top, just like a glass of Guinness beer.

Espresso, on the other hand, is a typical pressure brewing method that we all know and love.

Cold Brew Concentrate VS. Espresso

Cold brew concentrate is a stronger version of regular cold brew.

Regular cold brew follows a 1:8 coffee-to-water ratio.

But the concentrated version follows a 1:5.5 (sometimes 1:6) coffee-to-water ratio. Other than this, you won’t find any significant difference between the two.

Since it’s a lot stronger in taste, you’ll have to dilute it in a 1:1 (or 1:2) ratio with cold water before drinking.

And yes, you can also add sugar, milk, or creamer to this drink.

Regular cold brew is already high in caffeine content compared to regular espresso, so it’s needless to say that the cold brew concentrate version will carry more caffeine than both the regular cold brew and espresso.


Is Cold Brew Stronger Than Espresso?

Cold brew is stronger than espresso in terms of caffeine count. When it comes to taste, espresso is stronger.

How Many Shots Of Espresso Are Equal To A Cold Brew?

You’ll get 85 mg of caffeine per 50 ml of cold brew. The same amount of caffeine can be found in 1 oz. (1 shot or 30 ml) of espresso.

How Is Cold Brew Different From Espresso?

Cold brew is an overnight brew, whereas espresso is a minute-long brewing method. Cold brew works with cold water for the steeping. Espresso needs very hot water. Cold brew is highly caffeinated but mellower in taste. Espresso, compared to cold brew, has an intense taste but a lower caffeine count.

Can I Replace Espresso With Cold Brew?

Yes, you can, especially if you make cold-brewed espresso. It’ll lack the intensity and the acidity of regular espresso but keep the creamy, chocolaty taste notes. 

Is Cold Brew Coffee Expensive?

Cold brew is one of the cheapest drinks to buy or make at home.


Ultimately, it all comes down to individual choice. Cold brew sounds like an ideal drink for the hot summer days, but it can be drunk any time of the year. Espresso is still the most popular caffeinated drink all over the world. A cold brew is a great option for home brewers as it doesn’t require any special coffee maker. Making hand, on the other hand, is a lot of work, but to taste the zenith of coffee that is a hot cup of espresso, all that hassle is worth it.

And when it’s all said and done, you can dabble around with the crossover versions of these two drinks—the cold brew espresso and iced espresso. Just like most of the time with any type of coffee, the possibilities are wide open for you!

About The Author

Scroll to Top