Study Reveals Hot Brew Coffee Packs More Antioxidants Than Cold Brew

When it comes to coffee's antioxidant benefits, recent research suggests it is best to drop it like it's hot!
Mario L. Major

Thanks to all the technological innovations of the 21st century, it is becoming apparent that there is no area of our lives which these enhanced capabilities will not have an impact, even the food industry. From novelty creations like 3D-printed food to even spice pens that allow us to create our own designs atop the whipped foam in our cappuccinos, the evidence is everywhere.

Adding to this is the special--and highly satisfying--category of research findings which prove that certain practices or behaviors we engage in actually provide a benefit or more benefit than previously believed. Now there's evidence that lends support to all those coffee lovers out there who need a stiff cup (or two, or three...) of the caffeinated beverage to start their days. Hot brew coffee, it seems, offers us more antioxidants than its cold equivalent.

Designing the Study

The findings were produced in a study carried out by the ideal pair: two chemists who are also both coffee drinkers themselves. Niny Rao, Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University Associate Chemistry Professor (Jefferson) and Megan Fuller, Jefferson Assistant Chemistry Professor, compared the advantages of hot brew versus cold brew coffee.


They measured both the acidity and antioxidant levels of hot and cold brew coffee of six geographically diverse varieties: Brazil, Ethiopian Ardi, Ethiopian Yirgz, Myanmar, Mexico and Columbia (Although no mention of test subjects was made in the chemists' paper, no doubt many would be in line to participate in a study of this kind.).

The numbers were higher across the board for all of the coffees when the beverage was hot. They explain the results by offering that "hot brew method tends to extract more non-deprotonated acids than the cold brew method. These acids may be responsible for the higher antioxidant activities observed in the hot brew coffee samples."

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Separating Trend from Reality

Important in the area of scientific research is to take a critical look at the potential impacts of trending products on the general population. The explosion of cold brewed coffee in this decade served as part of the motivation for the pair's research. According to a report from global market intelligence agency Mintel, the domestic market for cold brew coffee experienced a 580% growth from 2011 to 2016 alone, prompting them to refer to the treat as "third wave coffee movement". 

Despite the positive tone of the research as well as the results, the scientists are also quick to point out that their work should not be seen as a green light for overindulgence in the caffeinated beverage. The bottom line, with all of these studies, is that informed decisions should be made about coffee consumption, based on knowledge of both the potential risks and benefits.

“Coffee has a lot of antioxidants, and if you drink it in moderation, research shows it can be pretty good for you,” Fuller said. “We found the hot brew has more antioxidant capacity.”

Details about the study appear in a paper, titled "Acidity and Antioxidant Activity of Cold Brew Coffee", which was published October 30th in the Scientific Reports journal.

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