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Cold brew coffee VS espresso – what are the differences?

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Hello, and welcome to our daily dose of coffee facts. If you are new in the coffee world, you can sometimes be confused with the terms that all the true bean heads use.

Today, we will teach you everything you need to know about cold brew and espresso. And no, cold brew, espresso, and Nitro cold brew are not the same things. But more on that later. Let’s start with the most common question. 

Cold brew coffee tower

Is cold brew coffee the same as espresso?

Nope, my friend, these are two completely different things. The only thing that cold brew and espresso have in common are beans, water, and great taste. 

What is cold brew

Nowadays, people mix cold brew with iced coffee, which is completely false. The term cold brew refers to the process of making the coffee, not the temperature itself. Cold brew is made using room temperature water, which extends the preparing time, but provides you with a new range of aromas.

For a cup of cold brew, the best choice is using a medium roast. As for the grinding levels, the fine grind will provide you more extraction, but it can lead to over extracting your beans. If you are new in the cold brew world, use a medium or coarse grind. Use one part of coffee to five parts of water. Of course, you can experiment with different ratios later when you get the hang of it.

Put the coffee in a carafe or a jar, and pour over clean, filtered water. Stir it up good, so every grain is soaked. Leave it be for the next 12-24 hours, depending on your preferences. Filter it, and you are good to go.  

What is espresso

Unlike cold brew, espresso has a much quicker prep time. You will just need a dose of coffee grounds and a good espresso machine. The usual coffee dose for espresso is 7-8 grams. However, depending on the coffee type, you can go up to 15 grams.

make coffee in the coffee machine

Unlike cold brew, espresso uses a fine grind. Medium and dark are the best roast levels, recommended by baristas. Use a clean and preheated espresso machine. Fill the portafilter with the recommended amount of freshly ground coffee. Insert the portafilter into the machine and press the button. The perfect extraction time for espresso is about 25 seconds. 

Is cold brew concentrate like espresso?

A cold brew concentrate is actually your typical cold brew coffee, with less water (or more coffee) added. The usual coffee to water ratio in the cold brew is 1:5. For making a fine cold brew concentrate, you should add three parts of water to one part of coffee. This way, you will get a dark, flavourful concentrate that you can later dilute with water, creamers, or spike it up with liqueurs. 

Cold brew concentrate and espresso will taste nothing alike. Espresso has a much more subtle taste, and you drink it while it’s hot. Cold espresso will have a weak, bland taste. On the other hand, cold brew concentrate will have a strong, hard, full-bodied taste, so it is usually drunk by adding water or milk. 

Is cold brew coffee stronger than espresso?

The comparison is hard because cold brew and espresso are served differently. The usual espresso shot has around 60 mg of caffeine and is served in one-ounce cups or glass. The standard cold brew is served in a 12-ounce cup and contains between 150 and 240 mg of caffeine. However, you can always make your cold brew stronger or weaker by changing the ratios. 

Can you use espresso for cold brew?

No, you can’t, but we understand the confusion. People tend to mix different coffee terms and start calling drip coffee or espresso just “coffee.”

Cold brew is a process of slow extraction of the freshly ground beans in water. You cannot, in any case, use espresso instead of water while making your cold brew. 

To sum it up: if you heard the term “cold brew espresso”, it usually refers to a cold brew concentrate. 

Cold brew coffee bottle mockup design

Can you drink cold brew concentrate?

It’s highly not recommended because cold brew concentrate isn’t meant for drinking in that form. But, here are your other options:

  • Add hot (not boiling) water to your concentrate, and you will get a cup of hot coffee
  • Add ice cubes and cold water to get ice coffee
  • By adding milk or creamers, you will get an iced latte
  • If you decide to warm up your milk, you will get a regular latte
  • You can use a shot of cold brew concentrate as a replacement for one shot of espresso in various recipes, from frappes to cocktails

What is the best ratio for cold brew coffee?

The most common ratio that beginners use is one part of coffee to five parts of water. Don’t trust your eyes or your spoons, but use a small kitchen scale. It’s affordable and will provide you with the most precise measurement.

When you get the hang of it, you can further adjust the ratio to delight your taste buds. If you want weaker coffee, just put more water or less coffee. If you are a fan of the stronger, richer taste, you can gradually decrease the water level. Putting too much coffee or too little water, you will end up with a cold brew concentrate. 

What is the difference between cold brew and Nitro cold brew?

Nitro cold brew is a rather new member of the coffee society. It became popular in coffee shops and gyms. But, to simplify it, it’s just a cold brew with added nitrogen.

Adding gas to drinks isn’t a new thing, as beer and soda drinks are produced by adding CO2. However, an experiment with adding CO2 into coffee was a complete failure, as it changed the coffee taste to something horrible. Nitrogen works differently, as the bubbles are much smaller. 

Nitro coffee starts with making a batch of cold brew. Then, you put the cold brew into a keg and enrichen it with nitrogen by using a pressurized valve.

cold brew coffee with cream

As the equipment for doing (and serving) nitro coffee is rather expensive, your Nitro coffee will always cost a pretty penny. The upside is that nitrogen gives your cold brew a sweeter and milkier taste without actually adding any sweetener or creamer. Also, you can make your own Nitro coffee at home by using a whipped cream dispenser and nitro capsules. 

Why does cold brew make me poop?

We have all been there, trust me. Ten to twenty minutes after your usual morning cup of joe and you are running towards the nearest toilet. Almost 30% of the coffee drinkers have experienced something similar. But why does it happen? We have several things to blame.


Caffeine is the usual suspect for most of the coffee side effects. It stimulates your brain, but also your bowel. In fact, it stimulates your bowel movements 60% more than just regular water. You would usually put the blame on your stomach acid.

But, cold brew is much less acidic than the alternatives. Possible issues? You are using way too much coffee for making your cold brew, so your caffeine intake is sky-high. Try limiting your daily dose of caffeine or switch to decaf. But even if the decaf makes you poop, we have several other factors to blame. 


Perhaps you are just suffering from lactose intolerance. It’s one of the most common problems of modern men. If you are using milk for your cold brew, try switching it with plant-based or nut-based alternatives. If the problem still persists, try drinking your cold brew without any additives.


Regular coffee drinkers usually have a much higher concentration of cholecystokinin. It is a hormone responsible for stimulating your bowel movements. The scientific connection between coffee and cholecystokinin hasn’t been proven 100%. If the problem persists, you should limit your coffee intake. 

IBS symptom

IBS is an acronym for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. In short, it’s a syndrome some people have, when certain food or drink makes them poop more. The most common social groups that have a higher risk of getting the IBS are:

  • people under 50 years
  • women
  • people with a family history of IBS
  • people with mental health issues

Coffee isn’t the main trigger here, but it worsens the situation substantially. 

Can you use any coffee for cold brew?

cold brew coffee and beans

Technically you can, but you will end up with a different final product in your cup. The best choices vary on a scale from medium to dark roasts. With darker roasts, you will achieve that robust, strong coffee taste that most people are fond of. Also, darker roasts are much more affordable than light ones. 

As for the grind size, choose between medium and coarse. As you extract the flavor using nothing but cold water, this grind size enables all the coffee particles are soaked in water.

A fine grind will become too dense too quickly and won’t extract in full.

So you might end up with over-extracted coffee full of lumps, and we are sure that’s not your goal. As for the freshness of the bean, it doesn’t matter that much in this case. Of course, you won’t be using stale beans, but even several week’s old beans will still provide you with a decent cold brew experience. 

Can espresso be made with any coffee?

There are a plethora of beans on the market that proudly wear the label “espresso beans.” The truth is they are regular coffee beans, but with the level of roast that the maker believes will be the best for your espresso machine.

That level is usually the dark roast. While you can make an espresso using any beans or any roast level, the result won’t be the same. The best choice is a fine grind, dark roasted, and freshly ground. Only that way, you can produce the rich crema and full-bodied taste that every shot of espresso should have. 

You will need an espresso machine to produce a proper espresso. Using a percolator or a Moka pot will provide you with a homemade espresso that won’t still taste the same, but it’s the next closest thing. 

How long do cold brew and espresso last?

You should always drink your espresso while it’s hot. All brewing methods are subject to oxidization and loss of taste. However, the espresso loses most of its taste quite fast.

First, it loses its crema, which is, frankly, the best part of it. Then, it loses all of its aromas in less than half of minute. And you are left with a bitter and burnt tasting shot.

You can prolong it a little bit by adding creamer, but the taste is irrevocably lost. The Italians are prone to having a shot of espresso as soon as it is made. If you don’t want to burn your tongue, we suggest waiting for half a minute, but not much more.

However, a prolonged lifespan is one of the main reasons while people make cold brew. Your cold brew will last up to two weeks if kept refrigerated in an airtight container.

The best taste will be lost after the first week, but you can pull out another week of a decent taste. Cold-brew concentrate can even last up to three weeks. Just remember to keep it in a fridge and seal the container tight.

Cold brew and espresso are not the same. Cold brew concentrate is actually a cold brew with a lot of more coffee, made for diluting. And Nitro cold brew is just a bubbly version of cold brew that gym-goers simply adore. Simple as that. Follow us for more coffee jargon learning and myth-busting.  

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