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Cold brew vs. hot brew coffee: Are you drinking the wrong cup?

Published in Scientific Reports, American scientists recently investigated the truth of health claims behind cold brew vs. hot brew coffee.

Who does not enjoy a cold-brew coffee in the summer? Besides being a delicious drink, many enjoy cold brew coffee for its touted health benefits such as being a good source of antioxidants. Popular coffee vendors like Starbucks often promote cold brew coffee as a healthy alternative to hot brew coffee. Their claim relies on evidence suggesting that cold brew coffee is less acidic than hot brew coffee. This makes cold brew coffee easier on the digestive system, and it reduces the risk of heartburns and other related conditions.

Two researchers in Philadelphia, who are big coffee fans, asked themselves if that is true. In their laboratory, they analyzed several kinds of cold brew coffee from five different countries. The scientists compared the acidity levels and the antioxidant content of cold brew vs. hot brew coffee. Their results were recently published in Scientific Reports.

The study found that the pH range of both cold and hot brew coffee is similar, meaning that they are both equally acidic. In other words, cold brew coffee is not a safer alternative to hot brew coffee for people with an easily irritable digestive system. The researchers also report that the antioxidant content is lower in cold brew coffee. Specifically, they report a higher concentration of coffee-composing acids, which may be responsible for the benefits of antioxidants associated with hot brew coffee.

The meaning of these findings is that hot brew coffee may actually be healthier. These results are good to keep in mind the next time you find yourself in line to get a cup of coffee.

Written by Marina Chemerovski-Glikman, PhD

Reference: Rao NZ, Fuller M. Acidity and Antioxidant Activity of Cold Brew Coffee. Scientific Reports, 2018.



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