Cold vs Hot Coffee: Which is better?

Iced coffee has become the latest favourite for caffeine junkies around the world with market researchers Mintel reporting that in 2013 up to 20% of adult US consumers drank iced coffee, making up a third of all coffee consumers in the US. But why are coffee drinkers switching from hot to cold and which is better?

Ease of making it: 

First off, we need to distinguish between cold-brewed coffee and iced coffee. Cold-brewed coffee is concentrated coffee that never gets exposed to heat whereas iced coffee it hot-brewed coffee that’s served chilled and over ice. In terms of preparation time, hot brew wins because it’s the quickest to make, whereas iced coffee still needs time to become chilled. Cold-brew takes the longest to make as the coffee grounds are introduced to room temperature water and is left to steep for up to 48hrs. Yet, despite the time required to make it, up to 66% of coffee drinkers in the US prefer cold-brewed coffee over iced coffee – but that could be due to taste which we’ll get to in a bit.

Convenience: Hot coffee is generally served in smaller sized cups to ensure that the coffee stays hot long enough to be drunk and fully enjoyed – but you run the risk of burning yourself (hence all the warnings on the cup and cover of your favourite on-the-go beverage). Whereas with iced and cold-brewed coffees, you can prepare them by the gallon and store chilled which also means that you can serve it in larger cup sizes and the worst thing you can expect is a possible brain freeze. 

Weather: Naturally, on hot days most people prefer to drink something cold and again something hot on a cold day. But, still, there appears to be a cross over where some people still like to enjoy their cold refreshment even in the dead of winter, similar to people smiling over their hot cup o’Joe in the summer. 

Taste: Flavour is one of the biggest distinctions between iced (and therefore hot brew) and cold brew coffee, because the way that the coffee is prepared changes the chemical makeup of the coffee. Because the ground coffee never interacts with heat in a cold brew, fewer acids and other particles that dissolve in hot water are released which makes it up to 66% less acidic and bitter than hot coffee and, by extension, iced coffee. So, whereas you get a nose full of aroma with hot coffee compared to cold brew coffee, cold brew seems to pack more of a punch of flavour when swallowed.

Caffeine: Naturally, for all us caffeine addicts out there, it’s important to know which has a higher of caffeine level. Although it’s been shown that hot coffee has more caffeine, the levels aren’t that much higher. So, come summertime, you can still get your buzz while getting a chilled one.

Health Benefits: There’s a lot that can be said in favour of both hot and cold coffee’s health benefits, so just to summarise: 

  • Hot coffee has more antioxidants
  • Cold brews have less caffeine (yes, that’s a health benefit)
  • Hot coffee makes you feel warm and fuzzy, putting you in a better mood (seriously – it’s to do with the heat)
  • Iced coffee can help prevent a heart attack (according to Dr. Yogeswaran, “Iced coffee is surprisingly helpful as it contains compounds such as caffeine, magnesium, trigonelline and phenolic compounds that can work by both stabilizing your blood pressure, increasing insulin sensitivity and lowering blood pressure.”)
  • The delicious aroma of hot coffee helps wake you up and help calm you down

More variety: Because of the flavour makeup and the way that it’s prepared you can combine cold-brewed coffee with several other flavours that you normally can’t with hot coffee. 

In conclusion: As George Bertolis, CEO of Coffeequip, says: “Variety is the spice of life, or in this case the delicious roast coffee bean of life. Why limit yourself to one way of drinking your favourite beverage? You could be missing out on a whole world of flavour you never even new possible. And, as mankind continues experimenting with this versatile bean, you can expect even greater variety of options to indulge in your favourite caffeine fix.”

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