Here's an unpopular opinion: I don't like iced coffee. No matter how many times the Starbucks barista asks if I want to try cold brew and no matter how many Instagram pictures remind me that it's iced coffee season, in my opinion, coffee should be enjoyed one way and one way only... hot.
And now, new research has finally validated what I (and all the other hot drinkers out there) have known to be true—hot coffee is better than iced or cold brew coffee. At least in terms of its impact on both your physical and your mental health. Below are some of the science-backed reasons that hot coffee could have a leg up on iced and how to make the perfect cup, according to our expert.
Hot coffee has more health benefits...
A 2018 study found that hot coffee contains higher levels of antioxidants—which experts say can reduce your risk of certain diseases—than cold brew coffee. The researchers also reported that, despite popular belief that iced coffee has significantly less acidity than hot coffee, the pH levels of both types of brews were virtually the same.
...and it could make you happier
Every coffee drinker knows that your daily cup boosts your mood (thanks caffeine!). But if you're drinking it hot, you're probably going to feel even better, according to a study published in the journal Science. People who held hot mugs of coffee in their hands (as opposed to those who held iced cups) not only felt physical warmth but also interpersonal warmth. A.k.a they had more warm and fuzzies.
How to brew the perfect cup of coffee
Google "how to make the best cup of coffee" and you'll get hundreds of different answers and complicated brewing processes that swear to taste better than Starbucks. But according to our kitchen and cooking writer, Valerie Li, all you really need is a good pour-over coffee maker and six simple steps. "I prefer a pour-over because I have more control over the temperature," she explains. Follow her method below.
1. Use filtered water. Unfiltered water, while safe for drinking, contains minerals which can affect the taste of your coffee. And with filtered water, you'll have less of a chance of those minerals scaling on the coffee maker.
2. Choose freshly roasted coffee grounds. Just like other perishable food items, coffee loses its flavor over time so buy fresh grounds (or grind whole beans yourself) when possible.
3. Get the water-to-grounds ratio right. Use 6 ounces of water for every 2 tablespoons of coffee grounds.
4. Let the water sit for a minute before pouring over the grounds. This is because water boils at 212 degrees—however, the recommended temperature for brewing coffee is between 195 degrees to 205 degrees, so it's best to let it cool slightly.
5. Pour until puffy. The hot water will cause the grounds to puff up, which is known as "blooming."
6. Drink immediately! Don't let your coffee sit too long or, not only will it cool off, but it will also get more bitter.