July 4, 2020

Is Cold Brew Better Than Iced Coffee?

“I’ve seen this statistic a lot,” she said in reference to a oft-quoted claim that cold brew is 70 percent less acidic than regular iced coffee. “But I don’t see any scientific data to support this claim,” directing me to a study that shows “comparable” pH values from cold- and hot-brew samples, “ranging from 4.85 to 5.13.” For comparison’s sake, the stomach’s pH hovers somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5.

Wading through the world of cold brew coffee can be a brutal game of trial and error. Thanks to the wide range of brewing methods, the difference in caffeine content among cold brews is considerably harder to predict than the amount of acid. After brewing for 20 hours, 16 ounces of cold brew at Starbucks contains 200 milligrams of caffeine (12 milligrams per ounce). While that’s about 20 percent higher than their iced coffee, which clocks in at 165 milligrams (10 milligrams per ounce), it’s considerably lower than the same amount of hot coffee, which has 310 milligrams (20 milligrams per ounce). Coffee from Dunkin’ reports similar numbers, with 10.8 milligrams in every ounce of cold brew.

But when you wade into more specialty waters, especially among prepackaged brands, the caffeine content is far from predictable. Canned cold brew brands Rise and High Brew have nearly identical packaging, but grabbing the wrong one could cost you. Rise’s original flavor contains 180 milligrams in its 7-ounce can (25 milligrams per ounce), which is anywhere from 30-50 milligrams more caffeine than what’s found in High Brew’s 8-ounce can. Stumptown, a roaster based in Portland, Ore., sells cold brew in 10.5-ounce bottles that contain a whopping 29.4 milligrams of caffeine per ounce. To a caffeine addict like myself, that number sounds lovely. But to the uninitiated looking to give cold brew a shot, it’s a recipe for disaster.

“A lot of people will not tolerate that amount of caffeine,” Dr. De Latour said. “Some people’s GERD is worsened by coffee because of the caffeine content and its impact on the sphincter muscles,” adding that high amounts found in some cold brews can make people feel quite sick, with symptoms like jitters, peristalsis of the bowels, diarrhea or even increased anxiety and stress. She then reminded me that it is, after all, a stimulant.

So that leaves us with cold brew prepared at home, a great option for those looking for more control when it comes to caffeine and acidity. The New York Times’s own recipe calls for just 12 hours of brewing. Similar recipes can be found across the internet, and all are easy to adjust in order to find the balance that works for your own stomach and pocketbook. A happy medium can be found in store-bought cold brew concentrates. These brews are meant to be diluted, so if you find it too strong, just add water or milk. Not strong enough? You get the idea.

In January, I approached the counter of Starbucks at an airport after waiting alongside an amorphous line of fellow uncaffeinated travelers for half an hour and, relieved to have made it there without collapsing, ordered a large cold brew iced coffee. I even used “venti” — the Italian word for 20, as in the number of ounces it contains — when requesting the large size, even though Italians use the metric system. But my commitment to the chain’s conceptually unsound ordering language did not bear fruit, as I was told by the barista that they had just run out of cold brew. All they had left was standard iced coffee, meaning hot brew served over ice. Out of other options and surrounded by more long lines, I grudgingly accepted. It wasn’t cold brew, but it was coffee. And that’s usually enough.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/02/style/self-care/cold-brew-iced-coffee-difference.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

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