Coffee is incredibly popular. Every day, almost 50% of American adults enjoy a cup of coffee.
Since it contains caffeine, coffee acts as a stimulant and gives millions of people the energy they need to make it through the day.
Whether it’s a large corporate chain or a neighborhood shop, most establishments now have a cold brew option. From the years 2015 to 2017, Forbes reported cold brew coffee sales experienced a 370% spike in popularity.
Trending search volume on Google tells the same story.
As cold brew inevitably gets more popular, it can be helpful to know what exactly it is and why it’s great for you.
Here are the benefits of cold brew coffee.
Table of Contents
- 1 What is cold brew coffee?
- 2 Benefits of cold brew coffee
- 3 Ready to give cold brew a try?
What is cold brew coffee?
Though iced coffee and cold brew are both served chilled, there is a fundamental difference between the two.
Usually, iced coffee is just regular coffee that has been refrigerated or chilled with ice cubes.
On the other hand, cold brew is the result of steeping coffee beans in room temperature water for 12 hours or more (typically anywhere between 12-24 hours is suggested).
You don’t have to be a certified barista to make your own cold brew. There are various simple, efficient methods.
Benefits of cold brew coffee
There are 5 benefits of cold brew vs standard drip coffee:
- Less acidic
- Naturally sweeter and tastes better
- More caffeine
- Better for exercise
- Can be a lot of fun
Let’s dive into each.
Benefit #1: Cold brew is less acidic than regular coffee
Compared to hot coffee, cold brew is significantly less acidic. This is a result of steeping in room temperature water, which significantly slows down extraction rates.
There are three major types of compounds in coffee:
- Volatile oils (aroma and pleasing flavors)
- Organic acids (bitterness)
Of the three, caffeine is extracted first, the volatile oils second, and the organic acids third. Because the organic acids are most resistant to extraction, hotter water is typically needed. Cold brew’s room temperature steeping minimizes the extraction of these acids, resulting in a less acidic brew.
In addition to having a better taste, a lower level of acidity can be preferable for people who are susceptible to acid reflux or who have sensitive digestive systems.
Benefit #2: Cold brew is naturally sweeter and tastes better
Subjective? Maybe. But most people agree cold brew coffee just tastes better.
For some, regularly brewed coffee is just too bitter. Since many people find the acidity to be overwhelming and unenjoyable, they sweeten their cup of coffee with syrups and packets of sugar. There’s nothing wrong with having a sugary treat every now and then. After all, life is about moderation.
However, if you’re drinking coffee with extra sugar on a daily basis, this can potentially be harmful to your health. Though sweeteners might make coffee more palatable, there are numerous reasons why having too much sugar can be detrimental to your health.
- Increased risk of heart disease
- Teeth deterioration
- Sugar crash
And if you love coffee, cold brew gives you the chance to taste a multitude of subtle flavors. High-end coffee beans have distinct flavor profiles. While some beans are chocolatey (like Colombian coffee), others are fruity (like Ethiopian coffee).
Cold brewing brings out the subtle flavors in the bean. Check out our interactive map of world coffee to learn more about the different roasts!
But all too often, when you brew it the old fashion way, those flavors get obscured. When you drink a cup of cold brew, you will be introduced to an enticing new world of flavors.
So, instead of consuming sugar and syrup, drinking cold brew is a healthy way to stimulate your taste buds and still enjoy a sweeter, less acidic cup of coffee.
Benefit #3: Cold brew has more caffeine than regular coffee
Let’s face it: caffeine is the primary reason why coffee is so ubiquitous.
Yes, most people like the taste. But what gives consumers a burst of energy in the afternoon is caffeine.
Due to how it’s brewed, undiluted cold brew has more caffeine than coffee. Let’s look at 16 oz portions of Starbucks drip coffee vs Stumptown cold brew:
- Starbucks Drip Coffee: 346 mg
- Stumptown Cold Brew: 425 mg
That’s 22.8% more caffeine in cold brew than drip!
According to the Food and Drug Administration, adults shouldn’t have more than 400 milligrams of caffeine per day. I have at least that, but I’m not a doctor so don’t take that as medical advice.
That being said, there are numerous benefits of caffeine if you consume it in moderation.
1. Reduced risk of diseases later in life // Studies have shown that consuming caffeine throughout one’s life can decrease one’s chance of getting Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease. Coffee may also help decrease the chance of you developing type 2 diabetes.
2. Improved memory // One study found that caffeine can help improve memory. A team of Johns Hopkins researchers administered 200 milligrams of either caffeine or a placebo to people who didn’t consume caffeine. Prior to ingesting caffeine, they were shown a few images. They found that the people who ingested caffeine could remember the images they saw the day before at a better rate than the control group.
3. Makes you feel more alert // Caffeine acts as a binding inhibitor for adenosine, which prevents it from attaching to neurons and stopping the production of dopamine and norepinephrine. Less adenosine binding means more dopamine and norepinephrine and more energy and alertness.
4. Helps combat inflammation // One study found that caffeine can help combat inflammation. Despite being a natural part of the immune system, chronic inflammation has been linked to heart issues and diabetes. Though there are plenty of things that advertise as being anti-inflammatory, caffeine is a legitimate option that’s been proven to work.
5. Aids in weight loss // As a stimulant, caffeine can help you sustain a healthy weight by increasing your metabolism. In addition to caffeine, coffee contains other stimulants like theophylline, chlorogenic acid (which has been linked to decreasing the digestion of carbohydrates), and theobromine. Caffeine won’t miraculously improve your diet. However, it can positively impact your metabolism.
Benefit #4: Cold brew is better for exercise
A lot of people who regularly work out are constantly looking for new ways to boost their exercise routine.
While there are plenty of sketchy protein shakes out there, coffee has been shown to actually improve your ability to exercise. As long as you’re careful, caffeine can give you more stamina if you consume it an hour prior to heading to the gym.
You may be asking: If cold brew and regular coffee both contain caffeine, why is cold brew more beneficial for workouts?
Since cold brew is less acidic, it’s easier on the stomach and therefore an ideal supplement for exercising.
Chances are if you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), you already have to make adjustments and take proper precautions if they want to exercise. Even if you don’t suffer from IBS, you probably are looking for a beverage that doesn’t make you constantly go to the bathroom.
With cold brew, you can get the energy boost you’ll need for your workout without overly stimulating your digestive system.
One study has also found that following a workout, drinking caffeine can strengthen your muscles by helping refill glycogen levels faster.
Another way to improve muscle recovery after a workout is by taking collagen protein powder. In addition to increasing muscle recovery, collagen can also improve skin health.
Feeling adventurous? Maybe, you can blend cold brew and collagen protein powder into a delicious, healthy smoothie! Collagen and cold brew can be part of a larger lifestyle change to be healthier and more fit.
Benefit #5: Making cold brew is fun
According to Gallup, 55% of Americans experience stress on a daily basis. This makes the United States of America one of the most stressed nations in the world.
There’s no clear-cut way to combat stress. Since so much stress is work-related, taking time off can surely help. However, that’s not always realistic and people should come up with a more sustainable strategy to mitigate their anxiety.
Picking up a hobby can be a great option for those who are struggling to figure out an anti-stress strategy that works for them.
Making cold brew can be that hobby!
It’s a fun, easy way to introduce yourself to a wide world of recipes and flavor profiles. In addition to being enjoyable, it can also save you time and money. Drinking coffee every day can get pretty expensive. Going to the coffee shop once or twice a day to get your caffeine fix will certainly take a toll out of your monthly budget.
And cold brew at your coffee shop usually is more expensive than a regular drip coffee.
With cold brew, you can make a large batch at once that can last you a whole week. Instead of having to constantly go to a coffee shop, you can drink cold brew in the morning, pour some in a thermos, and then refrigerate it at work. When all of your colleagues struggle to figure out the complex coffee machine or complain about the long lines at the local cafe, you will be gleefully drinking some homemade cold brew.
Ready to give cold brew a try?
Cold brew is a delicious alternative to regular hot coffee with a host of benefits:
- Less acidic
- Naturally sweeter, less bitter taste
- 22.8% more caffeine
- Better for active exercisers
- Just plain ol’ fun
You don’t need a complicated cold brew setup to make cold brew coffee–just a big jug, a cheesecloth strainer, and some coarsely-ground coffee–but there are some great cold brew coffee makers available that make the process easier.
If you have any questions about the benefits of cold brew or how you can get started, comment below!