Coffee can be harsh on some people. Acid reflux and gastrointestinal problems are no joke and if coffee is the cause of it, you need to act. The most common recommendation you would get is to switch to cold brew coffee. That begs the question.
Is cold brew coffee less acidic? Cold brew coffee is less acidic than hot brew coffee as it comes with less concentration of CQA content. Though the pH levels are more or less comparable, the amount of non-deprotonated acids in cold brew coffee is a lot less making it a smoother drink with less acidity. This is also why cold brew is a better choice for people with acid reflux.
Is Cold Brew Lower in Acid?
Personal trainer Max Lowery says cold brew comes is 70% less acidic when compared to regular hot coffee. A study by Toddy claims that cold brew coffee is 67% less acidic.
But is there truth to their claims or is it just a marketing ploy?
Sadly, the difference in acidity is not as big as they claim to be. Why?
Cold brew coffee is less acidic than hot brew coffee. But the difference is not as big as these studies claim to be. In fact, you might be surprised how small that difference is in terms of the pH values.
Toddy is a company that makes cold brew kits so you can expect a bit of bias when it comes to their study. In reality, the difference between the acidity levels of cold brew and the hot brew isn’t that big.
Acidity Comparison Between Cold Brew Coffee and Hot Brew Coffee
For this comparison, we scoured the web for scientific papers that made the most sense.
The paper titled Acidity and Antioxidant Activity of Cold Brew Coffee covers the topic in the best way possible.
Authors Nini Rao and Meghan Fuller talk about the acidity levels and antioxidant levels in both cold brew and hot brew coffee by taking light roasted coffees from Brazil, Ethiopia, Columbia, Myanmar, and Mexico.
Since antioxidant levels are outside the scope of this topic, let’s stick to the acidity levels discussed in this paper.
|Coffee’s Region||Hot Brew Total CQA (mg/L)||Cold Brew Total CQA (mg/L)||Hot Brew pH||Cold Brew pH|
|Brazilian||2503 ± 103||2201 ± 53||5.10 ± 0.02||5.04 ± 0.16|
|Ethiopian – Ardi||3270 ± 90||2149 ± 30||4.85 ± 0.09||5.01 ± 0.02|
|Ethiopian – Yirgz||2530 ± 261||1895 ± 104||4.96 ± 0.02||4.96 ± 0.08|
|Myanmar||2517 ± 277||1697 ± 94||4.92 ± 0.03||5.13 ± 0.03|
|Columbia||2669 ± 64||1912 ± 127||4.99 ± 0.10||5.00 ± 0.05|
|Mexico||2808 ± 105||1616 ± 111||4.95 ± 0.04||5.08 ± 0.04|
According to the table (from the study), it is clear that the CQA levels in hot brew coffee are a lot higher than cold brew coffee while there isn’t a huge difference in the pH levels.
What does this mean?
The pH value is simply the quantification of deprotonated acid molecules in a sample.
The pH value of both cold brew coffee and hot brew coffee is between the range of 4.85 and 5.13. When considering the pH value, you can say that there is not a big difference when it comes to acidity between these two brewing methods.
But that’s not where the story ends.
You can figure out the acidity of a drink outside the pH scale. That’s why we have included the CQA levels in the table.
CQA stands for Caffeoylquinic acids. The total CQA in the table is the sum of 3-CQA, 4-CQA, and 5-CQA levels in the sample. This should give you a better idea of the total acids present in the coffee.
When you consider the CQA levels, you can see that cold brew coffee is a lot less acidic when compared to hot brew coffee. Why is that?
Hot brew coffee is good at extracting additional non-deprotonated acids which increases the overall acidity of the drink. It is also higher in titratable acidity. These are the main reasons why hot brew coffee comes with more antioxidant properties.
So, even though cold brewing might not be a lot less acidic than hot coffee as the studies claim, it is a smoother drink with much fewer non-deprotonated acids in it.
Also Read: Can You Heat Cold Brew Coffee?
Is Cold Brew Better For Acid Reflux?
When you get acid reflux from your coffee the most common suggestion you get from the coffee folks is to change to cold brew coffee.
Is cold brew coffee better for acid reflux? Cold brew coffee is less acidic than hot brew coffee and is a better choice for people with acid reflux and gastrointestinal problems. The lack of non-deprotonated acid molecules makes cold brew coffee a smoother drink for most people.
Since cold brew coffee does its extraction at room temperature or a colder temperature, it doesn’t extract all the acids as a hot brew does. The hot brew coffee comes with a higher concentration of acids and can be harsh for a certain group of people.
With a cold brew concentrate, you can have a smoother drink and avoid this problem altogether.
How to Get Least Acidic Cold Brew Coffee?
We now know that cold brew coffee concentrate is less acidic than hot brew coffee. But how to get the least acidic coffee using the cold brew method.
According to this study, a cold brew coffee is the least acidic when you use dark roast coffee beans. The study used three levels of roast ranging from lightest roast to darker roast and found that darker roasts gave the best results.
So when you getting ready to get your cold brew coffee grounds, make sure they are dark roasted. Or you can get a dark roast coffee bean brand and grind it yourself to get even better results.
Another revelation from this study is that the grind size of the coffee beans is not an important factor. They used both medium and coarse grounds but there wasn’t a big difference.
Is Cold Brew Coffee Better than Iced Coffee in Terms of Acidity?
Cold brew coffee is less acidic than iced coffee. Iced coffee is not different from hot brew coffee except it is served cold.
The acidity levels are going to be very similar when you compare iced coffee and hot brewed coffee.
A lot of people think that cold brew coffee and iced coffee are the same.
Cold brew coffee is made differently whereas iced coffee could just be regular coffee or instant coffee (doesn’t have to be) that is served cold with some ice cubes in it (again, doesn’t have to be).
In this comparison, cold brew coffee is our choice of low acid coffee.
Is Cold Brew Coffee Less Acidic Than Hot Brew Coffee? – Closing Thoughts!
If you’re looking for a cup of low acid coffee, then cold brew coffee might help you a bit.
Be informed that cold brew coffee doesn’t remove all the acidity from the coffee bean. It is just less acidic and that’s why most people feel even fruity notes in their cuppa joe when brewed cold.
But if you’re going to put your trust in these outrageous claims of cold brew coffee being 67% less acidic, then prepare to be disappointed.
You should also know that drinking the less acidic cold brew coffee will also rob you of your antioxidant benefits from coffee. Hot brew coffee is a great choice if you’re drinking coffee for its antioxidant benefits.