Hot vs. Iced Coffee: Is One Better For You Than The Other?

When it comes to iced versus hot coffee, conversations usually focus on personal taste. But what about health? Do the two versions of coffee affect the human body differently, and are the differences stark enough to warrant permanent changes in your caffeine consumption?

To find out, HuffPost spoke with Dr. Majid Basit, a cardiologist with Memorial Hermann in Sugar Land, Texas.

Basit said there isn’t much research on the subject, but he did note one difference: “Hot coffee has been shown to have higher amounts of antioxidants, which may offer health advantages. But more research needs to be done,” he added.

A 2018 study in Scientific Reports bears that out. Researchers from Thomas Jefferson University found that hot coffee has higher levels of antioxidants, which can prevent or slow damage to cells, compared to cold brew.

But what if you’re looking to get an extra boost of caffeine? That’s when things get tricky. Caffeine is extremely variable in brewed coffee and depends on a variety of factors, including the beans used. Though a 2020 study by the American Chemical Society found that hot brewing methods yield slightly higher caffeine levels than cold brew methods, it’s important to note that the differences were not big enough to overcome the variables mentioned above. So in general, you’ll get a solid dose of caffeine whether you drink your coffee hot or cold.

“Caffeine has both positive and negative effects on the body,” Basit explained. “It increases brain alertness and general energy levels, but will also increase the acid in the stomach leading to an upset stomach in some people.” The cardiologist also mentioned increased urination, blood pressure and heart rate, along with a decrease in the body’s ability to absorb calcium, which may lead to lower bone density.

To recap: An average cup of hot coffee boasts slightly more antioxidants and approximately the same amount of caffeine as its colder counterpart. Overall, studies have not revealed major differences in how the human body reacts to the two forms of java. Hot or cold, coffee seems to generally be good for you.

According to a 2017 study by the University of Colorado, drinking coffee weekly can help reduce one’s chances of getting a heart attack by as much as 7%. And a series of three 2022 studies that were presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 71 Annual Scientific Session further support that coffee is good for heart health.

There is, however, one characteristic of a warm cup of joe that majorly differentiates it from a cold brew, and it doesn’t have anything to do with consumption: the smell of hot coffee.

According to a 2008 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, there is a connection between bean aroma and “potential antioxidant or stress relaxation activities.”

Using rats in a lab experiment, researchers found that a single whiff of hot coffee was enough to reduce tiredness and stress levels. “Since hot coffee has more vapors emanating from it, it is possible this effect may be heightened with hot coffee versus cold coffee,” Basit said. The cardiologist does, however, also make it a point to note that there is no definitive research on the topic and that a lot of the results might be connected to a placebo effect.

Turns out, then, that the battle between hot vs. cold brew is one still worth arguing about.

But if you want to make your own cold brew before summer’s over, it’s not that hard. Check out experts’ favorite tools below.

HuffPost may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Every item is independently selected by the HuffPost Shopping team. Prices and availability are subject to change.

The Ovalware RJ3 cold brew maker

“The Ovalware RJ3 cold brew maker is my favorite gadget to make my cold brew with! Due to its airtight seal, it makes cold brew taste fresh and delicious for days on end. It also has a stainless steel filter within the carafe, making it not only reusable, but it also allows for the best brew of coffee where even fine sediments of coffee cannot pass through!” — Dania Abou-Jabal of Cafe Dania

The Ovalware RJ3 cold brew maker makes four cups of coffee with a verticle brewing container that goes inside the carafe. Fill the brewing container with ground beans, pour cold water into the vessel, let it brew for hours and then enjoy.

Doppelgänger Goods’s reusable cold brew bags

“My favorite cold brew is simply a bag made by Doppelgänger Goods. You just fill it with coffee and toss it in a pitcher with water for 24 hours at room temp and you’ve got cold brew! It’s basically the Toddy method, which is what most cafes, including Starbucks, use to make their cold brew.” — Dan McLaughlin owner of Golden Triangle Coffee

This single reusable cold brew bag from Doppelgänger Goods is made from extra-fine mesh with a nylon drawstring that’s easy to use when wet. Other baristas recommended organic cotton reusable coffee bags with the same technique.

OXO Good Grips cold brew coffee maker

“I really enjoy this way of brewing cold brew because of the perforated rainmaker pouring feature at the top. This ensures all the grounds are saturated evenly, causing the flavor to be very smooth, rich and full-bodied.” — Stephanie Zullo, Chicago-based barista

The OXO Good Grips set includes the cold brew maker and a 32-ounce beaker. Simply put your ground beans into the brewing container, pour cold water over the perforated top and steep for 12-24 hours. When your cold brew is ready, pop the container onto the stand and use the easy press-down spigot to dispense fresh cold brew.

A normal French press

“All you need to do is add your coffee grounds to the French press and pour in room temperature water. Then you add the lid on without pressing the mesh filter press down. Let it steep for 12-18 hours, and then you can press and serve! Cold brew is so simple and accessible and that’s what makes it amazing!” — Tanner Colson, owner of Colson Coffee

This eye-catching French press from Couplet Coffee can be used to make both fresh hot coffee and/or overnight cold brew.

A giant Mason jar and Chemex filters

“I just weigh out maybe 50 grams of coarse ground coffee into a Chemex filter and tie it with a string, creating a kind of tea bag. Then I’ll place the bag in a Mason jar with water. I weigh the water in the jar to make sure it’s five times the amount of coffee. Let the coffee tea bag steep in the Mason jar overnight on the counter for about 8 hours. Weight is important and keeping it on the counter instead of the fridge is also a pro move.” — Hugh Morretta, co-owner of Rowhome Coffee in Philadelphia and Coffee Quality Manager at Peet’s Coffee

This set includes a half-gallon Mason jar and 100 Chemex one-use filters. Other baristas suggested using cheesecloth, disposable cold brew bags and even traditional coffee filters with rubber bands for a similar result.

A Bodum Bean French press specifically for cold brew

“This is great if I can remember the day before to set it up. It produces a smooth, tasty cold brew. It’s easy, dishwasher-safe and can be used without paper filters.” — Anne Marie Amisola of The Rookie BaristaThe Bodum Bean cold brew coffee maker works similarly to a French press, but is specifically for cold brew, so you shouldn’t pour boiling water into it. It holds 51 fluid ounces and comes with a flat lid for overnight brewing and a press/spout lid for pouring. Cover your measured beans with room temperature water, attach the flat lid and leave the maker to brew in the fridge overnight. When you’re ready for fresh cold brew, give it a stir, then switch to the press/spout lid to press down on the beans.

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