Both hot coffee, cold brew and iced coffee have their fans. And they are all delicious.
When it’s hot out, who would dare drinking a hot cup of coffee when they have the option to refresh with a delicious, cold brew or an iced coffee?
But then, when it’s winter, one feels so cozy while drinking a warm cup of coffee and reading a book. Besides, if you live somewhere where winters are really cold, it’s almost necessary to drink (hot) coffee if you want an injection of energy instead of just going hibernating with the bears.
But are there real differences between hot coffee and cold brew, besides their temperature? In this article, we’re going to dive into it.
The Differences Between Hot Coffee vs. Cold Brew vs. Iced Coffee (Besides Their Temperature)
Many people are still not sure if there are real differences between the regular hot coffee and cold brew vs. iced coffee.
First of all, there is a difference between cold brew and iced coffee. The difference lies on the preparation.
- Iced coffee is easy to make, and as the name implies, you simply “ice” the coffee. Basically, you make regular hot coffee, and then either add ice cubes to it, or pour the hot coffee over ice.
- Cold brew takes longer to be ready, and it is achieved by soaking coarse coffee grounds in water for up to 24 hours.
So now you know that both iced coffee and cold brew are served cold, but they differ a lot in their preparation.
Now, let’s dive into the real differences between hot coffee, cold brew and iced coffee, from caffeine content, health benefits, to calories, and more.
Caffeine Content in Hot Coffee vs. Cold Brew vs. Iced Coffee
While it’s hard to provide exact numbers, cold brew coffee is the winner when it comes to caffeine content. It contains more caffeine content than both regular hot coffee and iced coffee. Why is that?
The answer is pretty simple: Usually, cold brew uses more coffee beans during the brewing process, at least in the initial batch. The more coffee beans are used, the more caffeine will be dissolved.
And that’s not all: Cold brew coffee can take 12 to 24 hours to be made. This gives it plenty of time to dissolve the contents of the beans.
But although cold brew can have up to 30% more solids dissolved in total than regular brewed filter coffee, it’s normally diluted before serving.
That being said, not all cold brews are made equal, and it is perfectly possible to make hot coffee that contains a bigger amount of caffeine, or to serve cold brew in its strongest form.
Hot coffee usually has more caffeine that iced coffee, since it’s brewed in its pure, natural form. On the other hand, it’s common for iced coffee to come with milk, cream and other additions that dilute the caffeine content.
Which One Tastes Better? Hot Coffee vs. Cold Brew vs. Iced Coffee
As you now by now, cold brew is made slowly, while hot coffee is made way faster. This is because the hot temperature of the water makes the process faster. But this also means the beans don’t have as much time to release their contents.
This affects the taste of the coffee.
The cold brew method involves hours and hours of extracting all the flavor compounds inside the coffee beans. Because the beans are soaking for longer and in cold water, it will result in a flavor profile that is way less acidic and takes longer to oxidate.
Hot brewing extracts more oils from the coffee at a faster rate. The oxidation during cold brewing happens slower, and fewer compounds oxidize during the process.
This means cold brew tends to taste smoother and less bitter than hot coffee. If you hate any hint of bitterness in your coffee, this might be the right option for you.
Iced coffee can taste very sweet or very similar to regular hot coffee, because of the way it’s prepared and served.
Other aspects that influence in the taste of the coffee are the roast and the grind. But in the end, it’s all about personal preferences. Which one do you prefer?
What Is the Healthiest Option Between Hot Coffee Vs. Cold Brew Vs. Iced Coffee?
You’d think since it’s all coffee, they’re all the same when it comes to health benefits, and to some extent, this is true. And you can rest assured all kinds of coffee can have health benefits. But hot coffee, cold brew and iced coffee have a few differences worth mentioning when it comes to this topic.
If you’re looking for an excuse to drink your favorite type of coffee guilt-free, you came to the right place!
Health Benefits of Hot Coffee
- Hot coffee has a lot of antioxidants. Hot brewing is able to extract more antioxidants from the grind. Antioxidants are able to free body cells from free radicals and prevent and reduce damage caused by oxidation. They can also reduce the risk of many different diseases.
- Hot coffee can relax you. This might seem obvious, but studies show that the aroma of hot coffee can change the activity of certain genes.
Health Benefits of Cold Brew
- Cold brew is less acidic than hot coffee. If you want to avoid acidity in your stomach, but would still love to be able to drink coffee, you might get away with drinking cold brew coffee. Cold brew can be up to 70% less acidic than traditional hot drip coffee, according to CEO & Co-Founder at RISE Brewing Co Grant Gyesky.
Health Benefits of Iced Coffee
- Less caffeine = better sleep = better immunity. While caffeine isn’t bad for you, occasionally drinking less of it can be great, since caffeine can stay in your system for more than 10 hours after you drink it, affecting your sleep and therefore your immune system.
- Life is sweet! Iced coffee has all the benefits you can expect from coffee, but it tends to be sweeter, like a treat. This will make you feel happy and grateful, which is good for your mental health.
Hot Coffee vs. Cold Brew vs. Iced Coffee: Calories
Does one type of coffee contain more calories than the other? The answer is: it depends!
Iced coffee tends to have the most calories out of the three, especially because these drinks are usually prepared using lots of sugar, cream and toppings. Overall, a plain black hot coffee has an average of five calories, while a regular iced coffee at Starbucks can have at least 60 – not counting toppings, of course.
Black Coffee Might Have Negative Calories
Not only does regular black coffee has the least calories, it might have negative calories. Ever heard of this concept?
Various studies have shown that caffeine can make you burn more calories – or to burn calories a bit faster, since we all burn calories and use energy all the time.
According to a series of four trials, caffeine/coffee stimulates the body’s resting metabolic rate – in other words, it makes you burn calories even when you’re not exercising.
So, when you drink a cup of regular black coffee, you might burn the calories you drank and some more, which means that those calories became negative.
Good Thing You Don’t Have to Choose!
The concept of “negative calories” makes it clear that it’s ok to drink cappuccino, latte, cold brew or iced coffee even with toppings once in a while, since the drink naturally helps you burn those calories and gives you energy to work and exercise, along with other benefits.
That being said, after a while, people can become tolerant to these effects. This is why you should drink coffee in moderation and not use it as a weight-loss strategy, but just know that it’s ok to drink coffee guilt-free and enjoy every sip of this delicious beverage, be it hot or cold.