Why cold coffee isn't the same as chilled coffee, how much caffeine is in it, and why ice isn't always the best way to chill your coffee.
Cold-brew coffee drinks have been a trend for the past few years. You can see them not only on the summer menus of your favorite coffee shops but also in the assortment on supermarket shelves in the capsule coffee department. Together with a Nespresso coffee expert, we find out what the "chip" of cold brew coffee is.
What is Cold Brew Coffee?
A literal translation of "cold brew" is "cold brewing." This method was invented as an alternative to chilled or iced coffee. Coffee drinkers believe that making coffee cold-brewed in the usual way, or adding ice to it, will hopelessly ruin the taste. Ice will melt and turn into water (the coffee will lose its original density), and naturally cooled coffee has time to lose its flavor. "Cold brew" is coffee that is brewed with cold water for a long time, 8 hours or more (in some cases, the time reaches 24 hours).
Do cold brew and chilled coffee taste differently?
Absolutely. It is important to understand that many factors influence the taste and aroma of coffee: the quality and grade of beans, brewing time, roasting, and even water quality. When analyzing cold coffee, temperature, brewing time and method are especially important. In general, the main difference between cold brew and simply cooled or even hot coffee (even if the same beans were used for brewing) is that it practically lacks the characteristic acidity of coffee, as well as the bitterness in the aftertaste.
Why do cold and iced (or hot) coffees taste different?
The two main factors that can affect the taste of a beverage are temperature and time. They affect the rate of oxidation - the conversion of oils, acids, and sugars in the coffee. Depending on how fast this process takes place, the taste changes. For example, a cold brew requires a low temperature and a long time. As a result, the coffee is sweeter and softer, with less sourness and a subtler flavor. Temperature also has an impact on aroma, because it is the result of the evaporation of oils from coffee beans, and they evaporate faster when heated. It is the heat that gives the coffee its characteristic bright aroma. In cold coffee, the aroma may not be as intense, but it lasts longer.
How much caffeine is in cold and iced coffee?
Coffee made in a coffee machine will not differ much from hot coffee in terms of its properties when ice is added. Cooling in this case does not affect the amount of caffeine either. With "cold brew" it is more complicated: the level of caffeine in it can be higher, but here too much depends on the type of beans, the ratio of water to coffee, the type of roasting, and the volume of the drink.
Which type of coffee is healthier: cold or hot?
The nutritional properties of cold coffee have not been studied much, but it is obvious that they are very much the same as hot coffee. However, scientists are already saying that cold brew coffee may be healthier than hot coffee because it has one distinct advantage: less acidity, which makes it preferable to the digestive system.
How is chilled coffee different from hot coffee, other than the temperature?
First of all, you need to understand that just chilled coffee and specially chilled coffee are not the same things. For example, in some coffee machines, the temperature and pressure allow to extract from coffee all the usefulness, all the richness of taste and aroma, and the addition of ice opens the coffee profile from a slightly different side. I would like to point out that the taste of such chilled coffee cannot be considered weaker or less interesting. It's just different, which is why experimenting with temperatures and recipes is so fascinating.
What, besides ice, can cool coffee?
Very often milk, syrups, or other ingredients are added to chilled coffee cocktails. Nowadays such drinks as espresso-tonic (tonic and ice are added to espresso) or nitro-coffee (cold-brewed coffee infused with nitrogen) are gaining popularity. Naturally, such cold brew coffee is quite different from the traditional hot drinks we are used to. But I advise even convinced connoisseurs of classic coffee to diversify their coffee menu a bit and discover new unusual recipes.