Coffee lovers, it is that time of the year when many of us make our annual switch from hot coffee to iced coffee. While there are certainly some people who only drink hot coffee all year, or only indulge in cold brews, one thing that most coffee drinkers can agree on is that there are plenty of options out there in order to get one's caffeine fix. However, one question that even some coffee lovers seem to have is what the difference is between all these cold coffee concoctions.

With so many different varieties of cold coffee, you might be wondering what the big deal is as you sip on the homemade iced coffee that you made by throwing some ice into freshly brewed coffee. Fear not, we are here to make all of your options clear, including figuring out what the difference is between cold brew and iced coffee, or iced macchiato and nitro.

Iced Coffee

Just like the name suggests, iced coffee is coffee that has been brewed strong (usually) and then poured over ice. Iced coffee can be made from any bean or flavor. One can easily enjoy an iced vanilla or an iced caramel coffee, whether you choose to add sugar, milk, or any other additive, this is a relatively simple and versatile coffee drink. Some people even make ice cubes out of cold coffee in order to make sure that their iced coffee is not watered down when it is poured over the ice while still hot.

Cold Brew Coffee

Just like iced coffee is exactly as the name suggests, cold brew is the same thing. A cold brew coffee is a coffee beverage that has never been heated. In order to make coffee without heat, it is all about the time it takes to steep the coffee grounds in order to pull the flavor out of the ground up coffee beans. Typically, at least 12 hours are required to make a truly flavorful cold brew coffee.

When it comes to a cold brew coffee, it is often described as having a less acidic flavor, with a more chocolate-based taste. It is because of the way the coffee is brewed, that it actually contains even more caffeine than a regular iced coffee, which is also why most of these drinks are served diluted with cream or milk in order to cut back on that excess of caffeine, of course, ice will also help to dilute the cold brew coffee.

New Orleans-Style Cold Brew

While the New Orleans style cold brew is crafted in the same way that a regular cold brew is made, there is one major difference to this particular beverage, the addition of chicory. According to New Orleans own, Grady’s Cold Brew, the way to make a NOLA-style cold brew is to add chicory to the coffee grounds in order to impart not only the caffeine and coffee of the grounds but also the sweet flavor of the chicory. When it comes to most things out of New Orleans this beverage is usually pushed over the top by the addition of both sweeteners and cream, for a frothy, sweet, creamy confection.

Iced Macchiato

Coffee lovers who like a bit more caffeine to their coffee are likely ordering what some would consider a fancier drink, the iced macchiato. Macchiato is simply espresso that has been layered with milk that has been steamed or foamed. The literal definition of macchiato is spotted coffee, which means that the espresso has a touch of milk added before it is then poured over ice and coffee.

Fans of places like Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks are likely familiar with the hot and iced macchiatos that these coffee shops have to offer. Just like regular iced coffee comes in different flavors, an iced macchiato can be ordered with caramel or vanilla, among other flavors. In fact, if you pull up Starbucks own description of the iced caramel macchiato they serve, they explain that it is a combination of their “rich, full-bodied espresso with vanilla-flavored syrup, milk, and ice,” that they then top with a drizzle of caramel for a perfectly sweet finish.

Nitro Infused Coffee

While this coffee might be unfamiliar to some caffeine lovers, as it is actually new to the coffee-lovers scene, this is another simply made beverage. Nitro is a cold brew coffee that is infused with nitrogen gas and then served by a draft, just like a beer would be served at the bar. The nitrogen gives the coffee a sweeter and creamier effect of sorts, which reminds many people of a good stout beer.

Unlike other iced coffees out there, the nitro coffee is never served over ice. In fact, one does not add milk to this particular coffee either, so if you want to give the nitro a try, you better be a black coffee lover. The beauty of the nitro is in its pour, just like a perfect stout beer, so to add anything else, like milk or ice, would essentially ruin the drink.

When it comes to a good iced coffee, there are plenty of options out there, with new ones seemingly being crafted all the time. However, if you are a true coffee lover, you probably have your favorite and rarely deviate from it. If you decide to be a bit more adventurous, however, you now have a guide of sorts to some of the iced coffees that are out there and what exactly they are.

Image Credit: Mark Jensen via Flickr