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Hot coffee might be better for health than previously thought

Philadelphia Inquirer|February 6, 2019 Updated February 6, 2019 1:38pm


Those claims that cold-brew coffee will cause less heartburn and is healthier than hot brew? They may be exaggerated.

Two overly caffeinated researchers from Jefferson University in Philadelphia decided to investigate the acidity and antioxidant activity of cold-brew coffee. The paper by Niny Rao, an associate professor of chemistry, and Megan Fuller, an assistant professor of chemistry, was published in Scientific Reports.

When looking at acidity, the researchers found the pH levels of both brews were similar and ranged between 4.85 and 5.13. The higher the pH, the less acidic the brew, and the less likely it would be to cause an upset stomach.

They also found that hot coffee had more beneficial antioxidants than cold brew.

They controlled as many variables as possible, including grind size, roast temperatures and water chemistry, Fuller said.

They used six coffees from Brazil, Colombia, Myanmar, Mexico and two regions of Ethiopia and looked for beans that were harvested within a very small region.

Fuller noted the internet allows for the rapid sharing of ideas that are not necessarily valid. That sharing has proved to be a successful business model. The cold-brew market has risen 580 percent from 2011 to 2016. It generated $38 million in 2017.

Cold brew is made by steeping coarsely ground fresh coffee beans in cool water for an extended period of time. The grounds are then filtered out.

Hot coffee is usually made with water heated to between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit, using one to two tablespoons of ground coffee for every six ounces of water, according to the National Coffee Association. Iced coffee is made by pouring hot coffee that has cooled over ice.

Next, the researchers will study how long you can safely store homemade cold brew in the refrigerator, Fuller said.

“We are interested in looking at microbial populations,” she said.

What should coffee drinkers do with the recent study results?

“Don’t change your habits,” Fuller said. “You enjoy what you enjoy.”


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