Is Cold Brew Stronger Than Espresso?

Is cold brew stronger than espresso and which one of the two coffee-making methods offers the most caffeine per portion? Let’s find out!

Is cold brew stronger than espresso?
Cold brew and espresso are two of the most popular method

There are many contradictory claims about which is stronger, cold brew or espresso. When people talk about how “strong” coffee is, they are usually referring to the caffeine content and not how strong it tastes.

While cold brew almost always has more caffeine than espresso, it isn’t always the strongest-tasting brew of the two. Read on to find out more about the drinks and which one wins the battle to be considered the stronger of the two.

What Is Cold Brew?


Cold brew is coffee made by soaking coarsely ground coffee beans at room temperature or in cold water from six to twenty-four hours. This steeping process creates a cold brew concentrate that can later be diluted with water. As a result, cold brew tends to be less acidic, less bitter, and smoother tasting than other brews.

A glass of cold-brew coffee
Cold brew is made by soaking beans in cold water

The boldness of the flavor and caffeine content is dependent on how much water you add to the concentrate before drinking.

What Is Espresso?

Espresso is a concentrated coffee commonly served in “shots,” created using an espresso machine. The machine forces hot pressurized water through finely-ground coffee beans. This is called “pulling a shot” and results in a small coffee topped with a brown bubbly foam called crema.

Espresso shots can be drunk alone, combined with water to make an americano, or various types of milk and flavorings to make lattes or cappuccinos. Even though it is more concentrated than regular coffee, a serving of espresso has less amount of caffeine than your average cup of coffee due to its smaller portion size.

Is Cold Brew Stronger Than Espresso? 

A typical cold brew coffee contains around 200 mg of caffeine per 16 ounces. Whereas a standard espresso shot has about 63 mg of caffeine. 

No matter how you look at it, cold brew comes out on top regarding caffeine content. Not only does the cold brewing process use more coffee beans than espresso ‒ double or even triple the amount, but the serving size also tends to be much larger. The typical espresso shot is one fluid ounce, and the typical cold brew serving is anywhere from eight to thirty-two ounces.

The caffeine content of cold brew can also be adjusted depending on how long the coffee grounds are allowed to soak. The longer the grounds soak, the more caffeine is extracted from them. Of course, if espresso is your preference and you are looking for more caffeine boost, you can always request additional shots added to your beverage of choice, and your barista should be happy to oblige.

Which Tastes Stronger? Cold Brew Or Espresso 

How strong coffee tastes usually depends on the brewing method and the beans. A light roast will taste less bitter than a dark roast. That said, generally, espresso and cold brew are made from darker roasts.

Machine serving espresso
Espresso tastes heavier and notice some more bitterness

When it comes to taste, espresso tastes heavier, and you might notice some more bitterness. This is because of how concentrated an espresso is. Espresso is usually diluted in other drinks like Americanos or lattes.

Another reason why cold brew doesn’t taste as strong is because of the brewing method. Hot coffee is brewed almost instantly, while the cold brewing process occurs slowly over a few hours.

You might think that the extended period would extract more bitterness, but that’s not the case! Instead, Cold-brew has a lighter, milder taste. We covered how to make cold-brew coffee in an earlier post.

One final consideration to take into account in this debate is the addition of milk or cream. Adding either of these to your cold brew or espresso won’t affect the caffeine content, but it will affect the flavor. For example, a cold brew diluted with a lot of creams will not taste as strong as a shot of espresso served black.