The health benefits of coffee have been discussed time and again and, so long as you’re not shelving your java, you should be OK. What hasn’t been looked at in much detail is the difference between cold and hot brews, and while you might think there’s little to see, it turns out there is — at least when it comes to antioxidants.
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A recent study by chemistry professors Niny Rao and Megan Fuller entitled “Acidity and Antioxidant Activity of Cold Brew Coffee” reveals that not only is cold brew less acidic, but also lower in antioxidants.
Now, it’s no secret cold brew is less acidic — in fact, its mellower flavour is its biggest selling point — but the lower levels of antioxidants is a new discovery. A range of beans were tested, including Ethiopian, Brazilian and Colombian, all pre-ground and light-roasted:
Hot brew coffees had higher antioxidant capacities than their cold brew counterparts, indicating that additional radical-scavenging compounds and/or higher concentrations of such compounds were present in the hot brew samples.
For cold brew coffee, a strong correlation was found between total CQA [chlorogenic acid] concentration and total antioxidant activity, while a weak correlation was seen for hot brew coffee.
The paper mentions that hot brewing “extract[s] more non-deprotonated acids”, which may account for the higher levels of antioxidants. The differences in antioxidant levels varied between the beans, but in some cases, CQA levels were close to double in the cases of Mexican and Colombian varieties.
Does this mean we should give up on cold brew? Certainly not. I’ll be drinking it until the heat death of the universe. But if you’re really worried, you can always make yourself an iced coffee or latte as a compromise.
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