Cold brew coffee is all the rage nowadays, and more and more cafes are jumping on the cold brew bandwagon. One of the advantages that proponents of cold brew coffee claim it has is that it is less acidic. So we dug around and decided to find out: is cold brew coffee less acidic?
Well, is cold brew coffee less acidic than hot coffee?
There’s very little literature and research behind cold brew coffee as compared to hot brewed coffee. The health benefits of hot coffee are very well known, but the same can’t really be said about cold brew.
As of this writing, there are just two studies about the acidity of cold brew coffee. One was done by the Toddy company, who makes cold brew coffee brewers.
The other was a 2018 paper by Niny Z Rao and Megan Fuller. The findings of the paper were very interesting!
The researchers set up the experiment by hot brewing and cold brewing a variety of coffees sourced from a local market.
Overall, they found that the hot brewed and cold brewed coffees both had similar pH levels from 4.8 to 5.1. This is acidic.
If you were to stop here, you’d think that cold brew has the same acidity as hot brew.
Here’s where things get interesting.
In addition to the pH, they also measured the amount of titratable acids in both brews. Titratable means an acid you can neutralize using a base.
The researchers found that cold brew had less titratable acids than hot brew. So even though the pH was the same, cold brew did indeed have less acids than hot brew.
Why this happens
Let’s look at why hot brew has more acid than cold brew. The process of brewing coffee works by mixing water and coffee. Water can dissolve soluble compounds, so when the water interacts with coffee grounds, solubles from the coffee grounds are dissolved in the water.
The temperature of the water used will affect how many solubles are dissolved. Hot water tends to extract a lot more of the oily compounds of coffee beans. Oils are made of organic acids, hence hot coffee has more acid.
Cold water does not extract quite as many of the oily compounds, so many of the stronger tasting acids remain in the coffee grounds instead of getting in your coffee.
Why you would want to drink less acidic coffee
There are many reasons you’d wish to drink less acidic coffee.
One major reason is that consuming acidic drinks leads to indigestion and gastric issues for many people. People with stomachs sensitive to excessive acids experience discomfort after drinking coffee, especially if it’s on an empty stomach.
One option is to opt for low acid coffees, and another option is to opt for cold brew instead of hot brewed coffee.
That’s why cold brew coffee is better for acid reflux!
Another benefit of less acidic coffee is a mellower, sweeter flavor. In many cases, the strongly acidic content of hot coffee masks many of the other more nuanced flavors present in the coffee.
These are the fruity, floral, earthy, nutty, and chocolatey notes you hear about. Cold brew tends to bring these flavors out very nicely.
Cold brew is superior to even iced coffee, as iced coffee is just hot coffee brewed over ice. The taste of cold brew is milder and sweeter than the taste of hot brew and iced coffee, and many who find hot coffee too strong may welcome the idea of drinking less acidic cold brew.
Frequently asked questions
Does heating up cold brew coffee make it acidic?
The acidity of coffee is determined by the brew, so if you heat up cold brew coffee after it has been brewed, no new acids will be introduced into the drink.
Does cold brew coffee have less caffeine?
Cold brew coffee usually has more caffeine than hot coffee brewed from the same kind of coffee beans.
Is cold brew coffee better for acid reflux?
Since cold brew has less acidic components overall, it can be a suitable alternative to hot coffee for those of us with acid reflux. However, before trying anything new, consult with your healthcare provider.