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A piping hot cup of coffee can more strongly boast the endearingly bitter flavors of everyone’s favorite caffeinated drink, but most people aren’t super fond of downing high-temperature drinks in the heat of summer. That’s why iced coffee came to be – people who want caffeine demand it no matter the time of year. For these past few months, coffee connoisseurs have flooded cafes with iced coffee orders, but with the brisk temperatures of fall arriving, that could change.
As daily high temperatures dip into the 60s and even 50s, it becomes important for any coffee lover to ask: Is it time to switch from iced coffee to hot coffee? Is the risk of that annoying burnt tongue worth the shivers that come with drinking iced coffee on colder days? Is there any limit to when to drink iced coffee? Although none of these questions has an objectively, scientifically correct answer (well, minus not drinking enough coffee to die, no matter how hot or cold it is), here’s some food for thought on whether or not to make the switch at all.
Iced coffee may be healthier
Although coffee is known to boast some health benefits, iced coffee is a good deal healthier than hot coffee. To understand why iced coffee is healthier, it’s important to distinguish iced coffee from cold-brew.
Ordinary iced coffee is simply traditional hot coffee to which ice has been added. Cafes tend to make iced coffee by slowly dripping hot coffee directly into ice, but simply adding ice to a mug of hot coffee can also be effective in a pinch. Cold-brew, on the other hand, is never once hot. Instead, coffee grounds steep in cold water for hours before being used.
This distinction is exactly why cold-brew coffee is healthier. When coffee beans or grounds are heated, they release acids that can attack the stomach lining. Cold-brew coffee is virtually non-acidic by comparison.
Iced coffee may taste better
The stomach-attacking acids of iced coffee can also lend it an undesirable sour taste. Sourness in coffee is usually the result of improper coffee extraction. Although hot coffee can more strongly amplify the lovely tastes and flavors of coffee beans, improper brewing in hot water can release the very acids that lead to sourness.
With hot coffee, the taste can also vary with the size of the coffee grounds (whereas cold-brews won’t sour no matter the size of the grounds). Overly coarse coffee grounds can result in sour and even weak coffee. Overly fine grounds, on the other hand, will be too bitter.
Iced coffee is more expensive unless done at home
Iced coffee and cold-brew can’t be better in every way, right? That’s correct – almost all cafes charge more for iced coffee than for hot coffee. However, making each at home costs exactly the same. The materials – coffee grounds, a French press, and water – are the same for both, and the methodology isn’t that different either. For people who absolutely don’t have the time to make coffee at home, though, hot coffee may be the way to go.
Where do you stand on the hot versus iced coffee debate? Sound off in the comments!