Is Cold Brew Coffee Less Acidic?

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As you might expect, a cup of coffee from cold water brewing is unlike a cup of Joe using hot water brewing. Some of these differences are noticeable from the first sip. This raises the question: Is cold brew coffee less acidic?

Coldwater brewing slows down the extraction process of compounds and changes what is extracted from the coffee grounds. Tests have found that cold brew coffee has 66% less acidity and bitterness when compared to hot brewed coffee. The acids that might make a hot coffee bitter, even if using the correct brewing methods, don’t get extracted during cold brewing.

Is Cold Brew Coffee Lower in Acid?

Cold brew coffee is less acidic compared to a hot cup of coffee. But the difference is not as significant as these studies claim. You’ll be surprised at how slight the difference is between pH levels.

In reality, the difference between the acidity of Cold Brew and Hot Brew is not that great.

Acidity Of Cold Brew Vs Hot Brew Coffee

Cold brew coffee with ice
Image credit: iStock

We searched the internet for scientific articles that made the most sense for this comparison. The report titled Acidity and Antioxidant Activity of Cold Brew Coffee covers the topic in the best way possible.

The two authors, Rao and Fuller, discussed the acidity and antioxidant content of cold brew coffee and hot brew coffee using light roasted coffees from Brazil, Ethiopia, and Colombia.

The study shows that CQA values are much higher in hot brewed coffee than in cold brewed coffee, while there is not much difference in pH values. What does this mean? The pH is simply quantifying the deprotonated acid molecules in a sample.

The pH for both cold and hot brewed coffee ranges from 4.9 to 5.1, so if we look at the pH, we can say that there is not much difference in acidity between these two brewing methods. But it is not as simple as that. It is possible to determine the acidity of a beverage outside of the pH scale.

CQA stands for caffeoylquinic acids, and it gives you a better idea of the total amount of acid in the coffee. If you look at the CQA levels, you will notice that cold brewed coffee is much less acidic compared to hot brewed coffee.

Hot coffee is good at extracting additional non-deprotonated acids, which increases the total acidity of the beverage. It also has a higher titratable acidity. These are the main reasons why hot coffee has more antioxidant properties. So, although a cold brew is not much less acidic than hot coffee, as studies claim, it is a milder drink with far fewer non-contaminating acids.

Acidity Of Cold Brew Coffee Vs Iced Coffee

Ice coffee drink in a glass
Image credit: Blake Wisz, Unsplash

Cold brew coffee is less acidic than iced coffee. As you can imagine, iced coffee is not very different from hot coffee, except it is served cold. This is because both iced and hot coffee uses the same brewing method.

So, the acidity is very similar when comparing iced coffee and hot coffee. Many people think that cold brewed coffee and iced coffee are the same. They aren’t.

Cold brew coffee is brewed differently, while iced coffee can be (but doesn’t have to be) simply a regular coffee or instant coffee served cold with a few ice cubes. If comparing iced coffee with cold brew coffee, then the latter is the low acid coffee.

Is Cold Brew Better For Acid Reflux?

If you suffer from acid reflux from coffee, coffee drinkers’ most common suggestion is to switch to cold brew coffee.

Cold brew coffee is less acidic than hot coffee and is better for people with acid reflux and gastrointestinal problems. The absence of unprotonated acidic molecules makes cold brew coffee a milder beverage for most people.

Because cold brewed coffee is extracted at room temperature or a cooler temperature, not all acids are extracted as in hot brewed coffee. Hot brewed coffee contains a higher concentration of acids and may be unpleasant for certain people.

You can make a smoother drink and avoid this problem altogether with a cold brew concentrate.

Brewing Less Acidic Cold Brew Coffee

We know that cold brew coffee concentrate is less acidic than hot coffee. But how do you get a less acidic coffee with the cold brew method?

According to this study, cold brew coffee is the least acidic when dark roasted coffee beans are used. Three roast levels were used in the study, from lightest to darkest, and it was found that the darkest roasts produced the best results.

So if you want to have your coffee beans cold roasted, make sure they are dark roasted. However, you can also buy a brand of dark roasted coffee beans and grind them yourself for even better results.

Another key finding is that the grind size of the coffee beans is not an important factor. They used medium and coarse beans, but it didn’t make much difference.

The Bottom Line

If you prefer lower acidity coffee, then cold brew might be the right choice for you. Your smooth-tasting cold brew can have all the benefits of hot coffee without stomach burns. And for the sweetest and lowest acidic cold brew, you might want to go with a dark roast!


Featured image credit: iStock