Cold brew coffee has become an increasingly popular iced coffee drink. Cold brew’s smooth, less bitter taste appeals to many coffee lovers. But, how many calories are in cold brew coffee? Does this coffee drink contain the same calories as regular hot coffee or iced coffee?
Cold brew is made by steeping coarsely ground coffee beans in cold rather than using hot water to extract flavor. The coffee is the same coffee used to make both drinks whether hot or cold. This long, cold steeping time extracts flavor from the beans without exposing them to heat. The result is a coffee concentrate to be diluted with water or milk before drinking. Compared to regular brewed coffee, cold brew has a sweeter, smoother, less acidic taste.
But regarding calories, cold brew and hot coffee are pretty similar. An ounce of black cold brew coffee contains around 5 calories, the same as an ounce of black hot coffee made from the same coffee beans. The difference lies in how the drinks are typically prepared. Cold brew is often consumed black or just with a splash of milk, while hot coffee usually contains added cream and sweeteners.
So, cold brew is a low-calorie coffee choice in its plain, unsweetened form. But be careful of added sugars, flavored syrups, and large portions, which can quickly increase the calories. In our guide, you can learn more about how this trendy coffee is made and how many calories it contains. By the end, if you are watching your calorie intake and fancy a change to regular coffee, cold brew from your favorite coffee grounds may be a suitable choice. (Learn How To Set Timer On Keurig Duo)
What Is Cold Brew Coffee?
Cold brew coffee is brewed by coarsely ground coffee grounds steeped in cold or room temperature water for 12-24 hours. This long steeping time extracts the flavors and caffeine from the beans without using heat.
The result is a coffee concentrate diluted with water before drinking. Cold brew tends to be smoother and less bitter than iced coffee and far less bitter than percolated coffee. The cold brew typically comes with lower acidity than black coffee when drinking.
Does Healthy Cold Brew or Iced Coffee Have Calories?
Plain black cold brew coffee contains very few calories on its own. An unsweetened black cold brew from Starbucks contains 5 calories and 0 grams of sugar per 8 oz of coffee. The coffee itself contributes minimal calories per serving. It’s the addition of cream, milk, and sugar that add a number of calories and sugar to your cold coffee drink.
Calories in Cold Brew vs Hot Coffee
The coffee beans and grounds used to make cold-brewed coffee also hot coffee are the same. So, an ounce of cold brew black and an ounce of black hot coffee has no more or no less calories than regular coffee and the same at 5 calories.
A tall Starbucks Pike Place Roast hot coffee with 2% milk and no sweetener has 90 calories. A tall Starbucks Cold Brew coffee with 2% milk and no sweetener has only 45 calories. The difference is because of the larger volume of hot coffee (12 oz) compared to cold brew (8 oz).
Is Black Coffee Healthier Cold Than Hot Coffee?
Regarding healthy cold brew calories, unsweetened plain black cold brew and hot coffee have hardly noticeable calories. But there are a few potential advantages to plain cold brew coffee:
- Tend to be less bitter and acidic because of cold extraction
- Often contains less added cream and sugar
- It may be easier to drink black since it’s naturally sweeter and smoother
- It might have more antioxidants because of longer brew time
So, while cold brew isn’t necessarily healthier calorie-wise, the flavor profile and serving style may lend themselves to a beverage with fewer calories overall.
How Many Calories Are in a Cup of Cold Brew?
The number of calories in a cup of cold brew coffee can range vastly depending on size and what you add to it:
- 8 oz black cold brew: 5 calories
- 16 oz black cold brew: 10 calories
- 8 oz cold brew with 2 oz milk: 45 calories
- 16 oz cold brew with 4 oz milk: 90 calories
- 8 oz cold brew with sugar and cream: 150+ calories
As you can see, calories add up quickly once you add dairy, sweeteners, and other flavors. or even ready-to-drink cold brews.
Sticking to a small Starbucks cold brew, black unsweetened, is your best bet for a low-calorie coffee drink. (Read Does Coffee Go Bad If Left Out)
Does Cold Brew Have More Caffeine Than Hot Coffee?
Contrary to popular belief, cold brew does not contain more caffeine than regular hot coffee. Since cold brew concentrate is diluted with water, the final drink has similar or even less caffeine. An average 8 oz cup of coffee has about 95mg of caffeine, whether it’s hot brewed, regular iced coffee, or cold brew.
How to Make Low-Calorie Cold Brew at Home
Making your own cold brew coffee at home is easy and inexpensive. All you need is ground coffee, water, and time.
To make a smooth low-cal cold brew concentrate:
- Coarsely grind about 1 cup of coffee beans
- Place grinds in a large pitcher or jar
- Add 4 cups of cold or room temp water
- Stir gently and cover
- Let steep at room temp for 12-24 hours
- Filter out grounds using a coffee filter or fine mesh strainer
- Store concentrate in the fridge for up to 2 weeks
Cold Brew vs Iced Coffee – What’s the Difference?
Cold brew and iced coffee are often used interchangeably but are made differently.
- Iced coffee is regular hot coffee that has been chilled after brewing. It may contain more bitter compounds and acids because of the high heat extraction process.
- Cold brew is steeped in cold water and never heated. It has a naturally sweeter, smoother taste.
Both can be enjoyed over ice but have slightly different flavors. Try each one plain to taste the distinction. (Read What Is A Soft Top At Dutch Bros)
Cold brew coffee may offer a delicious alternative. Iced coffee may provide a low-calorie count in its plain, black form. Cold brew coffee is one way to extract sweeter and less acidic coffee naturally and can be easier to drink without adding cream and sugar.
Cold brew made from coarsely ground beans, steeped for 12-24 hours, contains around 5 calories per ounce, the same as regular black hot coffee. Just be mindful that additions like milk, sweeteners, and flavorings can quickly drive up the calories.
Moderating portion size is essential, too. Opt for a small, unsweetened black cold brew on ice for the lowest-calorie cold coffee drink. With its low acidity, smooth flavor, and minimal calories, cold brew coffee can provide a refreshing, healthier alternative to traditional iced coffees loaded with cream and sugar.
Does cold brew have more caffeine than hot coffee?
No, cold brew does not contain more caffeine count than hot coffee when using the same amount. Hot coffee and cold brew contain about the same amount of caffeine per ounce, yet you typically need more coffee grounds per ounce of water.
However, cold brew may taste stronger because of less acidity. Remember, you can heat cold brew, so it would contain more caffeine in the same cup size as hot coffee, such as drip coffee.
Is cold brew coffee healthier?
Cold brew coffee is considered healthier, although there is no significant difference between cold brew or iced coffee and hot regarding calories or nutritional value. Plain black hot coffee and cold brew also can be used to make cold beverages.
However, some people find healthier cold brew easier to drink black because of the naturally sweeter taste. So, it can be a healthier choice and easier to avoid iced coffee with cream and sugar.
Can you make cold brew without special equipment?
Yes, all you need is ground coffee and water. Mix the grounds and water in a jar, cover, and let steep at room temperature or in the fridge. Then, filter out the grounds. No special brewing equipment is required. (Read Decaf Iced Coffee Dunkin Guide)
How long does cold brew last?
Add your ground coffee to your water, and brew the coffee concentrate. Cold brew requires up to 24 hours, and then you can keep this for 2 weeks when refrigerated. The shelf life is longer than hot coffee since the beans were never exposed to heat. Diluted cold brew coffee can also last up to 5 days refrigerated.
Is cold brew acidic?
Cold brew coffee is significantly less acidic and bitter than regular hot coffee. The extraction method results in a mellow cold brew coffee and tea flavor. People sensitive to the acids in a cup of hot coffee can enjoy drinks like cold brew vs any other coffee.
Why does Starbucks cold brew have calories?
The roasted coffee beans contain no calories if you ordered unsweetened medium roast iced coffee without additions. If you have calories in your coffee, something has been added in the coffee shops.