Although it is a bit mystifying to regular coffee drinkers, cold brew is growing in popularity these days. Some say it is healthier than traditional coffee, but many people want to know if it is also stronger than regular drip because the first thing that matters about coffee is if it delivers enough of an energy boost to keep you going all day.
First of all, let’s talk about brewing methods. Caffeine is soluble in water and that is how it gets into your morning cup of joe. As you might expect, hot water helps extract more caffeine from the coffee grounds than cold water.
Cold brew is prepared by putting coffee grounds in a jar of water at room temperature and letting it steep for at least 12 hours. You could go for 24 hours if you like. That’s a long time the water is in direct contact with the grounds. A regular drip is ready to drink in a few minutes.
Yet, time doesn’t work wonders for cold brew and, even after 12 hours, it will still have less caffeine than regular coffee.
If you wanted a simple answer to a simple question, there you have it but things are always complicated with coffee and the differences between various types of brewing.
The general rule that regular coffee packs more caffeine than cold brew only applies when we’re talking about using the same coffee grounds – water ratio for both. If you use two tablespoons of coffee grounds in six ounces of water to prepare the two brews, regular coffee will be stronger than the cold brew.
But this is not always the case and many people who like cold brew tend to use twice as much coffee grounds for their drink, and even more than that.
Obviously, the cold brew will end up having a higher caffeine content. As a matter of fact, cold brew is often prepared as a concentrated drink to be diluted with water or milk. If you fill a cup with 50% cold brew and 50% water or milk, the resulting beverage will once again be less caffeinated than a cup of black coffee.
Now this is quite complicated as the caffeine content in cold brew depends on the coffee to water ratio and also the brewing time. There’s no way you can determine the caffeine content at home, for any type of coffee, unless you’re an amateur chemist and have a fully-equipped lab in your basement.
The only caffeinated drinks you can tell exactly how much caffeine they contain are energy drinks. It says right there on the bottle and the guys who make those drinks can be trusted to know how much caffeine they put in any type of beverage.
When it comes to coffee drinks, caffeine content varies. Take for instance Starbucks – a 16-ounce cold brew is reported to contain 200 mg of caffeine, while a 16-ounce cup of hot coffee contains between 260 and 360 mg of caffeine.
At the same time, Stumptown Cold Brew has about 279 mg of caffeine for a 10.5 fl oz serving, while its Nitro Cold Brew promises 330 mg for 11 fl oz.
If you’re buying your cold brew you will have to rely on the information provided by the company you prefer, whereas if you make your own cold brew you can adjust the quantity of coffee and the extraction time until you get your perfect brew.
To sum it up, cold brew has less caffeine than drip coffee when you use the same coffee grounds to water ratio, but you can always put more coffee in your cold brew maker!
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