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A new study gives the edge over iced coffee

Tim Nelson
November 02, 2018

Are you a hot coffee or a cold brew person? While many of us don’t mind and adjust their preference with the seasons, everyone knows someone who’d sip cold brew while trudging through a blizzard, and there are certain weirdos out there who think hot coffee is the only real way to cool down. At any rate, the choice probably comes down to little more than your preferred temperature.

Well, it turns out there might be more of a difference between hot and cold-brewed coffee than you’d think, at least judging by the results of a recent scientific study. Chemistry professors at Philadelphia and Thomas Jefferson Universities studied how the chemical properties of coffee can change depending on the presence or absence of heat during brewing, concluding that there is a real chemical difference between hot coffee and its cold-brewed counterpart.

In comparison to cold brew, PhD’s Niny Rao and Megan Fuller observed that hot coffee had a “higher concentration of titratable acids.” In essence, it’s a fancy way of saying that hot-brewed coffee has the potential to carry more antioxidants. Given that those are the chemical compounds often credited in studies touting coffee’s health benefits, you may want to become a year-round hot coffee drinker to mildly improve your odds of living a longer life.

"Coffee has a lot of antioxidants, if you drink it in moderation, research shows it can be pretty good for you," Fuller told Science Daily. "We found the hot brew has more antioxidant capacity."

In another area of study, though, the differences between the two methods were less pronounced than certain marketing tactics would lead you to believe. All of the hot and cold-brewed coffee samples tested had a pretty similar pH level, ranging from 4.85 to 5.13 on the 0 to 14 acid to base scale. Some say cold brew’s lower acidity compared to hot coffee can help ease heartburn and gastrointestinal problems, but it sounds like this may be overstated.

Rao and Fuller’s reason for conducting this research stemmed from the fact that cold brew hasn’t really been examined that closely by the scientific community. Given its surge in popularity in recent times (Science Daily cites a 580% market growth from 2011 to 2016), this is sure to be the first of many studies that examines its properties more closely.

So if you haven’t made the annual switch back to hot coffee yet, now may be the time. After all, it may just keep you alive longer.


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