The Best Way to Make Cold Brew Coffee (2:09)
Though it’s often touted as a smoother, less bitter cousin of drip coffee, cold brew coffee might not help drinkers avoid getting heartburn or acid reflux, and it may not offer the same health benefits as hot brews, either, according to a new study published in Scientific Reports.
To make cold brew coffee, baristas steep the grounds in room-temperature or cold water anywhere from hours to days, allowing the coffee’s chemical compounds to oxidize and degrade much slower than when it’s brewed with boiling water. This gradual process is believed to be the reason behind this cup of java’s subtle and not-so-sour flavor, but in testing six coffees, researchers at Thomas Jefferson University found that both hot and cold brewed cups of Joe had similar pH levels, ranging from 4.85 to 5.13. While cold brew coffee might taste less acidic, Niny Rao, one of the researchers, says its chemical makeup shows it shouldn’t be considered a “silver bullet” for preventing gastrointestinal distress.
The findings also revealed that hot coffee beat out its chilled counterpart in antioxidant levels, which are thought to be behind the caffeinated beverage's health benefits. Sipping on three piping hot cups of coffee a day has been linked to a decreased risk in cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, and stroke, and the drink may also lower risk of some cancers, diabetes, and depression. Cold brew coffee likely isn’t getting dropped from café menus any time soon — the U.S. market for the brew grew 580 percent from 2011 to 2016 — but it can cost about 60 cents more than a standard iced coffee, so consider if it’s worth losing out on those antioxidants before you shell out the extra cash.
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