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Cold brew coffee beaten cold by its hot counterpart

Updated: Feb 18, 2019

Cold brew coffee

The one and only William Shakespeare, the Bard of Stratford-Upon-Avon, famously said in his epic masterpiece, Romeo and Juliet, in the year 1600, “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”. Gertrude Stein said in the poem Sacred Emily, written in 1913 and published in 1922, in Geography and Plays, 'A rose is a rose is a rose'. So, can we say, coffee is coffee is coffee, no matter hot or cold? No, we can’t. Why? Just read on to find out.

In a recent study, researchers from Philadelphia University and Thomas Jefferson University found chemical differences between hot and cold brew coffee that may have health impacts. In particular, the researchers found that hot-brewed coffee has higher levels of antioxidants, which are believed to be responsible for some of the health benefits of coffee.

The study, published in Scientific Reports on 30 October 2018, also found that the pH levels of both hot and cold coffee were similar, ranging from 4.85 to 5.13 for all coffee samples tested. Coffee companies and lifestyle blogs have tended to tout cold brew coffee as being less acidic than hot coffee and thus less likely to cause heartburn or gastrointestinal problems.

The typical cold brew is a no-heat, long-steeping method of preparation. There is well-documented research that hot-brewed coffee has some measurable health benefits, including lower risk of some cancers, diabetes and depression.

While the overall pH levels were similar in hot and cold coffee, the hot-brewed coffee method had more total titratable acids, which may be responsible for the hot cup's higher antioxidant levels.

A word of caution. The cold coffee served in most Indian restaurants is just instant coffee powder mixed with cold milk, and may not represent the cold brewed one served in Western countries. It is quite likely that the temperature difference between the two may by itself lead to differences in the levels of antioxidants but this has yet to be proven in Indian conditions. No matter what, you can still enjoy your coffee, blow hot or blow cold, brewed hot or brewed cold!


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