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Turns out hot coffee is more effective than cold brew at cooling you down

Tim Nelson
May 08, 2018

With the temps getting up to the mid eighties in areas of the northeast last week, warm weather finally feels like it’s here to stay. While that rise in the thermostat usually heralds the beginning of cold brew season, science suggests those looking to keep cool and caffeinated should do otherwise.

As counterintuitive as it sounds, drinking hot coffee is a more reliable way to cool down on a hot day. According to University of Cambridge neuroscientist Peter McNaughton, it has to do with how hot coffee raises our core body temperature and plays tricks on the brain. Thanks to the TRPV1 receptor on our tongues and in our mouth, ingesting hot coffee then stimulates sweat production. Though the actual process of drinking hot coffee obviously won’t help, McNaughton tells NPR “the hot drink somehow has an effect on your systemic cooling mechanisms, which exceeds its actual effect in terms of heating your body.” Once the ensuing sweat evaporates, the drinker is left with a newfound sense of cool.

By comparison, any relief from the heat that an iced coffee provides is fleeting. “The volume of the cold drink is relatively small when compared to your body, so the cooling effect gets diluted quite quickly,” McNaughton says. And if you try to offset that by downing a ton of cold beverages, the neuroscientist says this will only “cause blood vessels to tighten, making you feel much hotter.”

So there you have it: drinking a hot coffee is like a little shvitz for your mouth. Of course, nobody says sweating is a pleasant experience. But once peak summer humidity sets in, it’s probably going to happen anyway, so you might as well embrace it and expedite the process. And there’s nothing better than enjoying the perplexed looks of the sheeple at Starbucks who haven’t figured out your little secret to staying cool.

 

 

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