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I’m one of those people who nurses a cup of coffee for hours and continues drinking it long after it’s gone cold.
I know, it’s sacrilegious.
If you also do this, you already know that it doesn’t taste as good as a cold brew, but then again neither does an iced coffee made by pouring a hot brew over ice.
Hot and cold brews obviously have different temperatures, but why do they taste so different? It’s all coffee, right?
Huffington Post called in a couple of experts to unpack this one:
Cold-brewed coffee is a relatively new trend and hasn’t been studied as extensively as hot-brewed coffee, said Niny Rao, a chemistry professor at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia who with colleague Megan Fuller has started researching cold brew.
The research was inspired by Rao’s own struggles making cold brew at home.
Only scientists would fail at making a cup of coffee and launch a full-scale investigation into why.
Here’s what they found:
Heat breeds bitterness and acidity
That sounds worse than it is. Part of the appeal of a cup of coffee is that it doesn’t taste like something your three-year-old would want to put in their mouth.
When the CGA [an anti-oxidant, polyphenol chlorogenic acid] in unroasted coffee is heated during the roasting process, it’s broken down into quinic acid and caffeic acid, which have an even more pronounced bitter, astringent flavor. And the longer coffee is applied to heat, the more gnarly the flavor gets as those acids develop.
That means hot-brewed coffee tends to taste more bitter and acidic than cold brew, even if it’s made with the same beans.
Unlike regular coffee, used to make iced coffee, cold brew is never exposed to heat. Cold brew uses time, rather than heat, to extract the coffee’s oils, sugars, and caffeine.
The lower levels of bitterness in a cold brew also make it less likely to cause heartburn or other digestive problems.
Caffeine levels, however, are about the same
A number of cold brews are infused with flavours like lemon, but that doesn’t mean that they contain less caffeine.
Peter Giuliano, chief research officer at the Specialty Coffee Association and executive director of the Coffee Science Foundation (yes, that’s a real thing), says that hot and cold brewing doesn’t specifically affect the amount of caffeine in a serving.
“Think of the difference between espresso versus drip coffee,” Giuliano said. “While they have similar levels of caffeine in their respective servings, when comparing total caffeine levels in the same volume, espresso has significantly more caffeine.”
Brewing time also impacts caffeine, acidity and antioxidant levels. A 2017 study published in Scientific Reports found that for cold-brewed coffee, most caffeine in medium- and dark-roast beans is extracted after 400 minutes.
I spend my mornings writing for 2OV and my afternoons working on a dissertation, so I’ve divided my coffee intake into a hot cup (or two) in the morning, and Terbodore cold brew for that extra boost to mix things up in the afternoon.
In the office, some are partial to honey in our coffee, which isn’t as sweet as sugar.
That’s likely why I’m a fan of the dry Sparkling Cold Brew: Honeybush + Orange which boasts a uniquely South African flavour, with a hint of citrus. It’s also low-calorie, so comes with less guilt.
If you want something a little zestier, you should try the Cold Brew: Sparkling Lemonade.
It’s a non-alcoholic, crafted mix of smooth cold brew coffee made from Terbodore’s Great Dane blend, carbonated mountain spring water, and natural flavours.
Whatever your preferred cold brew, you can shop the full Terbodore range here.
For those more into their hot brews, there’s also a fantastic backstory to their Pura Cepa Fermentation coffee from Uganda’s Mount Elgon.
It’s lovely in taste, and you get to be a little smug about the ethics of where your beans come from.
I call that a winning combo.
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