the cut opinion pages

All Coffee Should Be Hot

Photo: Jack Pierce/EyeEm/Getty Images

Now that it is November 1, and the unseasonably hot weather is (probably) done for the year, I am free from one the greatest, most inexplicable pressures I face as a coffee-drinking American: to choose iced coffee over hot when it is warm outside, despite the obvious superiority — in any weather — of the latter. Good riddance.

I regret every iced coffee I’ve ever bought. No, wait — I had a good one, once, when I was high on Xanax at Penn Station before a long train trip, and tottered over to a Dunkin’ Donuts to order an iced latte with specifications I can’t remember and have never been able to replicate. Probably that is because iced coffee is inherently bad, and I was tricked by Xanax. Under any other circumstances, iced coffee is an anemic abomination, watered down past the point of drinkability in mere minutes. I’ve never drank more than a third of an iced coffee, and a third of an iced coffee is not worth six dollars.

Perhaps you’re the sort of person who doesn’t put milk or anything in your coffee. Congratulations, you’re very mature. To someone like you, clearly already miserable, temperature probably doesn’t matter much. But for me, and for anyone who likes their coffee at least slightly sweetened, hot coffee allows for a blended experience where iced coffee does not. It’s something about like, the melting point or something. Have you ever tried to blend a packet of hot cocoa mix into a cup of cold milk? It doesn’t work! Flavored powders and syrups and creams need a warm environment to … spread out in. In cold coffee that stuff just sits at the top, or the bottom, uselessly, no matter how vigorously you stir it. You know I’m right.

I also don’t think caffeine consumed cold works as well as caffeine consumed hot, but I really don’t have any evidence for that. All I know is that when I have a cup of hot coffee in the morning I feel soothed and alive, and when I have an iced coffee I just feel dehydrated and crazy. What I can say with some authority, thanks to a new study in Scientific Reports, is that hot-brewed coffee has higher levels of antioxidants than cold-brewed coffee, and because antioxidants are thought to be responsible for some of coffee’s health benefits, that basically means hot coffee is better for you than cold. And while some cold brew companies have advertised cold brew as less acidic than hot coffee, and thus easier on your stomach, the Scientific Reports study found that neither is significantly more acidic than the other.

And if that’s not reason enough for you, cold coffee is also messier than hot coffee, because it’s always sweating all over the table and your hand, even if you don’t spill it. Hot coffee would never do that to you. Sure, spilling hot coffee on yourself might hurt a little more, but hot coffee is nothing if not a reminder to slow down — temporarily at least. Hot coffee takes time: you measure the grounds, fill up the pot with water, wait for it to brew, blow on it so it’s cool enough to drink. Mmmm. This is the sort of enforced, ritualistic patience I need in my life.

Hot coffee is enjoyed. Hot coffee is sipped. Iced coffee is utilitarian, slurped through a problematic straw. It’s disgusting and bad and I hate it. I’m not going to fall for it again. I don’t care how hot it gets.

All Coffee Should Be Hot