Is Cold Brew Stronger Than Espresso?

This article answers, “Is cold brew stronger than espresso?” and takes an in-depth look at these popular drinks that might help you pick your next morning cup. 

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

There are over twenty different methods of coffee preparation. If you’re a fan of caffeinated beverages, you have no doubt tried at least a few of them. It only takes a quick walk to your local coffee shop to see that espresso and cold brew are two of the most popular methods.

The question is, which one should you choose? You may want to consider some factors when deciding on what you should order for an afternoon pick-me-up. Still, today we will be taking a look at which brew is stronger ‒ the favorite Italian espresso or the cool and refreshing cold brew?

The answer is not that simple. While cold brew almost always has more caffeine than espresso, it isn’t always the strongest tasting brew between the two.

What Is Cold Brew?

cold brew coffee
Cold brew is made by soaking beans in cold water

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

What Is Espresso?

Machine serving espresso
Espresso is commonly served in shots

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 and stronger tasting 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? 

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.

When it comes to the robustness of flavor, cold brew again comes out on top. Cold brew is much more full-bodied compared to espresso. Again, this is likely due to the larger amount of coffee beans used during the brewing process. 

Another factor to consider in the cold brew vs. espresso debate is the type of coffee beans used. Generally speaking, lighter roasts have a stronger flavored compared to darker roasts. This means you may sometimes find that an espresso brewed with a lighter roast can taste stronger than a cold brew made with a darker roast.

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.