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Coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the world. In recent years, more and more people are discovering cold brew coffee. Some have been attracted to claims that drinking cold brew coffee has a lot of benefits.
1. Fewer tannins
Cold brew has fewer tannins than hot brew coffee. This means cold brew less bitter than a typical hot brewed coffee. Tannins can be a good thing and a bad thing.On the plus side, tannins can have antioxidant activity. But, tannins may also interfere with digestion and impede absorption of iron.
Tannins are also associated with stained teeth, so fewer tannins might mean brighter teeth for cold brew drinkers!
2. Positive Benefits of Caffeine Content
There are conflicting opinions about whether the caffeine content is higher in cold brew or not. There are also conflicting opinions about whether caffeine is healthy or not.
As a stimulant, some people depend on it to get going in the morning. That same effect may make it difficult for some people to fall asleep.
Too much caffeine might lead to increased blood pressure and bone density problems. A little caffeine may help defend against Type II diabetes, some cancers, and boost memory. See more pros and cons at Web MD. The caffeine content of coffee will depend a lot on how you brew it:
- Coffee to water ratio used, or
- How much you dilute a cold brew concentrate
- The darkness of the roast
- How coarse or fine your grind is
- How long you brew for
The only way to know for sure how much caffeine you have in your coffee is to buy a pre-brewed bottle off the shelf that states its caffeine content.
Caffeine Informer has a searchable database of caffeine content in various drinks. Sixteen ounces of Starbuck Cold Brew has 200 mg, while other popular brands like Califia Farms has 160 mg. By contrast, a Starbucks 16 oz. Americano has 225 mg.
3. Cоld brеw coffee may be easier on your stomach
Some companies boast that cold brew may have up to about 1/3 the acid levels of hot brewed coffee. In truth, both hot and cold coffee have fairly similar pH–about 5.5 give or take. (Source)
In a study comparing hot and cold extracted coffees, the pH difference between the two was negligible, but they did find a difference in the the type and concentration of acidic compounds extracted from the two brews. So, it does seem that cold brewing results in few acids in coffee but it does not affect pH. (Source)
The data from this same study showed coffee extracted from different coffee beans did affect pH of the brew, whether hot or cold.
Either way, be careful as too much coffee can also have a laxative effect, which can be an uncomfortable nuisance when you have GI issues already. Whether hot or cold, drink coffee in moderation (about 1-2 cups per day).
4. Drinking coffee may be heart healthy
Several studies have shown that moderate coffee consumption is associated with lower risks of cardiovascular disease and stroke. In fact, in general, a relationship between coffee drinking and a lower risk of mortality in general has been observed. This was about 10% for men, and 15% for women. (Source) (Source)
If you have high blood pressure, you may want to exercise some caution with coffee as it can cause a small rise in blood pressure for a few hours.
Coffee also contains chlorogenic acids, which is an antioxidant (antioxidants help to counter damaging free radicals). These compounds are lost in the roasting process. To get the most antioxidants into your cup, choose light roasts.
5. Cold-Brew Coffee Tastes Much Better
While not really a health benefit, the oils extracted in hot brewing processes have a tendency to go rancid. This contributes to the bitter taste of hot coffee.
Cold brewed coffees don’t extract these oils, so you get less bitterness and you can store it longer. Hot brewed coffee usually tastes best made fresh but with cold brew you can make enough for a few days at a time.
Cold brew extraction also pulls out other notes such as chocolate, vanilla, or fruits that you may not pick up when brewed hot. Even if you like a beautiful cup of drip coffee, a cold brewed coffee can give you an incredible variation in flavor.
6. Impacts on Weight Loss and Metabolism
As long as you aren’t loading your coffee up with sweeteners and milks, coffee has less than 5 calories per serving. Black coffee can be a low calorie beverage for those sick and tired of plain water.
Many people who need to add sugars and creamers to their hot coffee find that they can drink cold brewed coffee black. This is likely because of decreased bitter flavors in cold brew.
Drinking coffee also seems to boost metabolic rate for a short period of time. Unfortunately, this effect was seen more in leaner people, and less so (though still measureable) in obese subjects. (Source) (Source)
Researchers also have observed a slight increase in exercise performance with caffeine and caffeinated coffee. So, maybe a cup of coffee will help you work just a little bit harder! (Source)
7. Helps your mood
People have long used coffee to help them get them going in the morning. If you had a poor night’s sleep, caffeinated coffee can be the boost you need to push past tiredness. Of course, be careful not to overdo it as the best remedy is to get enough sleep in the first place and too much caffeine, especially later in the day can make it harder to fall asleep the next night.
There is also a strong association between modest coffee consumption and decreased depression. A meta-analysis combined the results of 11 other studies and found a reduction in depression of about 8% per cup, per day. This peaked at just over 500mg of caffeine intake though (so the benefit seems to be associated with roughly 1-3 cups per day). (Source)
8. Might help your brain
Coffee may help with both brain function in the short term, and protecting against degenerative neural diseases in the long term.
An animal study showed that rats fed coffee as part of their diet did significantly better on psychomotor and memory tests. (Source)
Other studies have shown a correlation between reduced risk of Parkinsons and Alzheimers disease among coffee drinkers. There are mixed results as to whether coffee reduces the risk of dementia. (Source)
9. Reduce your dependence on sodas and energy drinks
This one is from my personal experience. Cold brew coffee helped my kick a diet cola habit, or at least reduce it significantly! I was drinking anywhere from 24-60 ounces a day. Yikes.
I have always disliked hot coffee but I forced myself to give cold brew a chance. I didn’t immediately love it, but neither did I hate it. Our affair was a slow burn.
After years of trying though, in just a few months I was able to replace most of my cola consumption with coffee and now have anywhere from no cola to 12 ounces in a day. And, I ended up drinking a beverage with no sugars or artificial sugars or flavorings and has positive health benefits. Win-win-win.
I attribute this success to a few things:
- I replaced cola with another caffeinated beverage
- I (grew to) like the flavor so I now had an alternative to plain water
- It had little to no calories, so I didn’t have to feel guilty about drinking it and it didn’t ruin my diet nor did I need to resort to water flavored with artificial ingredients and sweeteners.
So is cold brew coffee better for you than hot coffee?
Most of the important health benefits of coffee can be found in both hot and cold brewed coffee. The main difference is in the amount of tannins and acids extracted.
What it really comes down to is taste. Drinking any coffee, especially black, can provide health benefits so whichever one you prefer is the right choice.
Is cold brewed better for you than iced coffee?
Iced coffee is made by cooling hot brewed coffee. As a result, the difference between iced coffee and cold brew is similar to hot and cold brewed coffee.
Coffee consumption has been linked to a number of positive benefits in our bodies–both physical and emotional. These effects seem to be best when you drink coffee in moderation–about 1-3 cups per day.
Not everyone can tolerate coffee though, and if you have stomach issues or high blood pressure you may want to talk to your health care provider about whether the risks outweigh the benefits for you.
Most of the benefits I have talked about are associated with both hot and cold coffee.
Instead of drinking hot coffee all of the time, consider the additional benefits you can get from drinking cold brew coffee. While each has their pros and cons, switching it up could bring you the best of both worlds.