If Cold Brew Coffee Is Your Caffeinated Drink of Choice, Here's What You Should Know
At last, all your cold brew questions have been answered.
It’s officially peak summer, which means endless hours of daylight plus plenty of high heat and humidity. This leaves us with one drowsier-than-normal population. Many sweaty sleepyheads (myself included) rely on one thing to bring us back to life during the summertime: iced coffee.
We’ll take ours in any form—iced or hot, fancy or not—but we also believe good coffee is worth going the extra mile for. And today, you can’t talk about high-quality cold coffee drinks without defaulting directly to cold brew.
Cold brew coffee has risen in the ranks of the most popular summer caffeine selection in the past several years. To help us understand why—as well as give us an insider look at what gives cold brew its je ne sais quoi, both taste- and health-wise—we spoke with Todd Carmichael, the CEO and Co-Founder of La Colombe Coffee Roasters.
What’s the difference between cold brew and regular iced coffee?
Cold brew is made by steeping coffee grounds in cold or room temperature water for 12 to 24 hours and then filtering it, which results in a smooth, naturally sweet, and slightly chocolate-y flavor profile. Regular iced coffee, on the other hand, is just cooled-down hot coffee.
"Because of the way cold brew is brewed, it’s less astringent and easier on the palate and stomach. It also misses all those unattractive acidic notes found in hot coffee,” says Todd. In other words, cold brew is like regular coffee’s silky, velvety cousin.
Rather than watering down regular coffee with ice cubes, cold brew is often brewed as a concentrate and later gets mixed with water and/or milk.
Health benefits of cold brew
“It's insane how good cold brew is for you,” Todd says. Here are a few of the potential health benefits you’ll get from drinking it.
It could boost your metabolism.
Just like hot coffee, cold brew has plenty of (if not more) caffeine, which has been proven to boost your body’s metabolic rate by up to 11%.
It may be easier for your stomach to digest cold brew.
Many people avoid drinking coffee for reasons related to acid reflux, indigestion, and heartburn. Cold brew and regular coffee have similar acidity levels, around 5–6 on the pH scale (this can vary), but some studies have found cold brew to be slightly less acidic. This means it may irritate your stomach less.
Drinking cold brew may lower your risk of heart disease.
Drinking 3 to 5 cups of coffee (15 to 25 ounces) daily may lower your risk of heart disease by up to 15%, compared to people who don’t drink coffee. In addition, cold brew contains compounds that can reduce your risk of heart disease, including magnesium, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory agents.
Why cold brew is so popular right now
According to Todd, drinking cold brew isn't really a trend. “It's more like a revolution,” he says. “Trends have a slope to them, this was more of an explosion. People wanted something with more caffeine, that is smoother and beautiful.”
“The only problem with cold brew is that once you try it, you will never go back. It really created a massive wave. You can get caught up in the cold brew netting with one sip. It's not that people are seeing this on social media—they just got caught up in the taste of it. It was such a dramatic shift; we've never seen anything like it.”