Researchers examined the composition of each drink, and their findings might surprise you.

By Zee Krstic
March 21, 2019
Heart latte
Credit: Irina Marwan / Getty

Cold brew has earned admiration from coffee drinkers for many reasons, the fact that it tastes smooth and delicious while providing a punch of caffeine chiefly among them. Some people, however, firmly believe that coffee is best enjoyed brewed hot and with little else added. If you fall into that camp, you may be right: Recent research in the journal Naturesuggests that cold brew, while delicious and certainly not unhealthy on its own, has fewer antioxidants than regular hot coffee.

Cold brew is created when ground coffee is steeped in cold, filtered water for hours at a time (or even overnight). Coffee aficionados will tell you that it's naturally sweeter and smoother than its hot counterpart, and that cold brew provides more of a caffeine buzz than iced coffee, which is simply hot coffee that's been cooled down. Antioxidants have been shown to reduce common health issues like inflammation and increased levels could help stave off serious diseases. Researchers at Jefferson University found that hot coffee naturally had higher levels of antioxidants when comparing the chemical compositions of a light roast cold brew with hot coffee from beans in Brazil, Colombia, Ethiopia, Myanmar, and Mexico.

Both cold brew and hot coffee were found to have similar pH levels ranging from 4.85 to 5.13 in their test results. Previous literature in the coffee industry, interestingly enough, advise people with gastrointestinal problems to reach for cold brew as its reported to be less acidic.

But pH levels aside, hot coffee was also found to have higher concentrations of deprotonated acids (those missing protons), which could be why there's more antioxidants in this kind of coffee than in any other. The team of researchers at Jefferson University said further research has to be done to determine exactly why one form of brewed coffee is better than another. Reaching for hot coffee more frequently could provide you better holistic health benefits than cold brew, which is something to keep in mind if you're hoping to get a health boost in addition to extra energy. If you love iced drinks, try switching to a regular iced coffee instead.


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