Hot-brewed coffee is no longer the only way to get your java fix. Now, cold-brewed coffee has addicts going nuts. In fact, the popularity of cold brew grew by a whopping 580 percent from 2011 to 2016. Cold brew coffee uses a no-heat process that steeps ground coffee beans in cold water for a long period of time. Coffee companies have even claimed that it’s less acidic than a hot cup of Joe, which would mean fewer stomach problems. But very little research has been done on the real benefits of cold brew.
Enter two coffee drinkers, who also happen to be researchers from Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University), pitted cold brew against hot coffee in a study to see if there was any true difference between them.
They looked at the chemical differences between light roast coffees from Brazil, Columbia, Myanmar, Mexico and two regions of Ethiopia. They found that the concentration of acidic compounds and antioxidant activity were higher in the hot brew than the cold brew.
“Coffee has a lot of antioxidants. If you drink it in moderation, research shows it can be pretty good for you,” Megan Fuller, Ph.D., assistant professor of chemistry at Jefferson said in a statement. “We found the hot brew has more antioxidant capacity.” Hot brew coffee has been shown to have some health benefits like possibly lowering the risk of some cancers, diabetes and depression. Plus, they proved most coffee companies wrong. Cold brew and hot brew actually have very similar pH levels ranging from 4.85 to 5.13. Make sure you avoid these 12 mistakes almost everyone makes when brewing coffee.
The authors noted that the acidic compounds may be responsible for the higher antioxidant activity found in the hot brew coffee. One possible explanation would be melanoidin compounds, which influence pH levels and have properties that fight off cell-damaging free radicals. But so far, researchers can’t confirm that melanoidins are a characteristic of cold brew coffee.
More research needs to be done to truly see the pros and cons between each of the two coffee brewing methods. For now, you may want to swap your morning cold brew for an old-fashioned hot cup of coffee. Next, take a look at why you really shouldn’t drink coffee on an empty stomach.