Jefferson University scientists studying health benefits of cold brew coffee

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Jefferson scientists studying health benefits of cold brew coffee. Registered Nurse Ali Gorman reports during Action News at 5 p.m. on March 16, 2018. (WPVI)

Coffee used to come one way - hot. But in recent years, iced coffee has become a hit and now cold-brew coffee is also popular, with some fans saying it has health benefits.

However, two Philadelphia scientists say - not so fast!

As coffee-lovers, Niny Rao and Megan Fuller enjoyed the flavor of cold-brew, but as Jefferson University chemistry professors, they wondered about the health claims.

"It's less acidic, it's going to be easier on your digestive system," said Fuller.

And supposedly on your teeth.

Another claim is that cold-brew has more caffeine. When Rao and Fuller couldn't find any science to back the claims, they decided to run their own experiments.

They followed standard recipes, mixing ground coffee with room temperature water, then steeping it for 12 to 24 hours. They also tested variables, like grind size and roast levels.

Their first discovery - the brewing time given in most recipes is way too long.

"You only have to do about 400 minutes - that's about 6 to 7 hours - at most," said Rao.

Their second discovery: Hot or cold, the acid levels are virtually the same.

They say the grind of the beans also makes a difference. Cold-brew made with coarse grind has more caffeine than hot-brewed coffee.

But whether hot or cold brew, levels of the beneficial antioxidant 3-CGA were similar.

"That's where we think coffee consumption is actually good for cardiovascular health, helps, or is correlated with a lower risk of certain cancers," said Fuller.

Rao and Fuller say the roast of the beans, and even the region where they are grown also makes a difference.

They are continuing to study cold brew - especially the acid levels. - and have even been contacted by the maker of one major brand, Maxwell House.

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