Coffee is one of Earth's most commonly enjoyed beverages, with millions enjoying at least one cup every day. The drink's popularity has only grown in modern society despite being discovered centuries ago. Coffee's popularity is primarily attributed to its ability to energize us despite lingering lethargy from our previous night's sleep. For others, the flavor is the main selling point (though usually after heavy alterations with sugar and creamers).
Nevertheless, you will be hard-pressed to find someone who does not start their day with coffee. Another reason coffee is so popular is because it is malleable and can be served in various forms. Some nations even have special types and styles of coffee, such as Italy's famous cappuccino style.
The first thought for most people when they hear "coffee" is a drink served hot to accompany their breakfast. While hot coffee is one of the oldest versions of the drink, modern drinkers often enjoy cold coffee instead. Iced coffee is just as diverse as hot coffee, including 3 major titans in the cold coffee world: iced coffee, iced Americano, and cold brew.
With so many different types of cold coffee, it is possible you do not know the difference between these 3. Knowing how these coffee variants differ could be crucial if you want to enjoy cold coffee in as healthy a manner as possible. In this case, the big question is: which of these 3 is best concerning health?
What is Iced Coffee?
As the name suggests, iced coffee is traditional coffee served cold with ice in the glass. Iced coffee can be brewed in virtually any manner (French press, carafe, etc.) and is served cold to suit those who do not enjoy warm drinks or live in warm climates. While some people are willing to drink a hot cup of coffee in the middle of summer, others prefer something that will cool them off.
Despite being considered a staple of modern coffee consumers, iced coffee has existed for almost 200 years. Around 1840, a cold, sweetened coffee beverage was created in Algeria (while it was under French control). Back then, the drink was called Mazagran and occasionally featured rum as one of the ingredients, though it usually only used coffee syrup and cold water.
Because of its preparation, Algerian locals refer to Mazagran as the "original iced coffee." While Mazagran could be categorized as the "original iced coffee," there is a major distinction between Mazagran and modern iced coffee.
Once iced coffee was brought to Europe in the 19th century, the drink was modified to serve ice in the drink. Additionally, modern examples of iced coffee introduced artificial sweeteners to enhance the flavor for those with more sensitive palates. In 1920, the drink was popularized in the United States of America by the Joint Coffee Trade Publicity Committee.
Eventually, it became a staple of fast-food chains like Burger King, Starbucks, and Dunkin'. Nowadays, iced coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the country. The problem is that the modernization of iced coffee has led to concerns about its health value.
How Healthy is Iced Coffee?
Iced coffee is typically made using normal coffee beans or grinds served cold instead of hot. This means iced coffee shares most of its nutritional value with ordinary black coffee, which is particularly healthy. An 8-fluid-ounce cup of iced coffee has a caloric value of 1 when untainted by artificial flavorings and additives. It also lacks any sugar and has a standard serving of caffeine that will not hurt you.
Unfortunately, very few examples of American iced coffee are free of additives since most people want a sweeter drink than it would normally be. As a result, some people add sugar, creamer, or flavored syrups to their iced coffee, but most choose to go to the drive-thru at one of the fast-food chains mentioned earlier.
Starbucks is the most common port of call for iced coffee enthusiasts, and it has become one of the most popular coffee chains in the world. Unfortunately, even a medium-sized cup of Starbucks' plain iced coffee has 80 times the calories it should. This discrepancy is because Starbucks serves it with 4 pumps of an artificial sweetener, which is only moderately better than the plethora of drinks with hundreds of calories. Without the sweetener, Starbucks' iced coffee would match unadulterated iced coffee brewed at home. Nevertheless, iced coffee remains one of the healthier options for a cold caffeinated treat.
What is Iced Americano?
"Americano" is the phonetic pronunciation of the Italian and Spanish word for "American." The question you are probably asking is: what does this have to do with coffee? The answer is a little complicated since the records surrounding this drink's origins are somewhat vague.
In 1927, an English author named William Somerset Maugham wrote and published Ashenden: Or the British Agent. The book's narrative occurs during World War I and is one of the earliest recorded instances of the term "Americano" used concerning coffee. However, the popular theory is that "Americano" was created in the 1970s after American soldiers arrived in Italy during World War II.
Back then, American soldiers would dilute Italian espresso with hot water to approximate the coffee they were used to drinking in America. After that, the Italians began replicating the drink as Caffé Americano, which translates to "American coffee."
The revamped version of Caffé Americano consists of a single or double shot of espresso brewed with around 40 milliliters of water. Typically, Caffé Americano is served hot (like most coffee), but an iced alternative was created when normal iced coffee gained popularity with enthusiasts. Since then, iced Americano has become a niche selection in coffee shops worldwide, eventually reaching America.
Ironically, an Italian drink popularized by American influence found renewed success in America. One detail distinguishing Caffé Americano from traditional iced coffee is that it seldom includes added sweeteners. While it is not unheard of for people to add sugar or milk to an iced Americano, it is relatively rare. This begs the question of how iced Americano compares to iced coffee.
How Healthy is Iced Americano?
Iced Caffé Americano shares most of its nutritional statistics with iced coffee. A standard cup of Caffé Americano usually has no calories but has been recorded with a maximum of 4 in larger servings. The major difference between Caffé Americano and normal coffee is that an Americano tends to have significantly more caffeine than its common cousin.
A cup of Americano can have between 94 and 150 milligrams of caffeine, while normal coffee averages 95 milligrams. Americano's caffeine concentration is so much higher because it uses more espresso. Espresso is an Italian creation that uses a specialized brewing technique to maximize the caffeine concentration. An ounce (or shot) of espresso has around 64 milligrams of caffeine by itself, and it is usually added to other coffee drinks to maximize the energy boost.
Caffeine can be beneficial and does have a few health and cosmetic benefits when consumed responsibly. The problem is that people asking for extra shots are not usually paying attention to how much caffeine they consume and will usually exceed the Food and Drug Administration's recommended maximum of 400 milligrams. Excessive caffeine consumption can lead to health complications since you are overindulging in one of the most powerful stimulants on the market. In this case, Americano's health issue is related to the amount of caffeine it introduces to your body.
What is Cold Brew?
Cold brew coffee is a popular cold coffee alternative that is fairly self-explanatory insofar as production is concerned. In the 1600s, coffee was a relatively popular drink in Japan, though likely less popular than tea. It was in Japan that cold brew coffee was first created and involved steeping coffee grounds in cold water.
Because the water was cold, it took much longer for the grounds to affect it, usually leading to steeping periods of 12 to 24 hours. Despite the lengthy preparation, cold brew coffee has been a traditional Japanese drink for centuries. Nevertheless, the Japanese penchant for tradition and cultural innovation led to different parts of the country altering coffee production to fit the region. One such variation was created in Kyoto after they received new coffee essences from the Dutch.
Slow-drip cold brew (colloquially called Dutch coffee in East Asia) was a revolutionary concept for cold brew. While normal cold brew coffee needed to steep for a day, slow drip reduced the process to several hours, making it a little easier to enjoy. Over the centuries, modern technology has made it easier to create cold brew without compromising the core concept. Eventually, cold brew spread worldwide and became a popular drink, often mixed with caramel or chocolate to enhance the flavor. The final evolution of cold brew coffee occurred in 2013 when a new concept called nitro cold brew was introduced.
Nitro cold brew's history is debated since it was originally served in 3rd wave coffee shops, but the concept was unique. Nitro cold brew is created when nitrogen is dissolved in cold brew coffee to create a smoother drink. Despite the contentious origins of nitro cold brew, it has become a widespread phenomenon for coffee enthusiasts.
Cold water alters the coffee's flavor profile since the lack of hot water means the coffee does not leach out, which means it is almost always diluted with additional flavors. This dilution makes the drink more palatable, but there remains a concern about how it affects its health value.
How Healthy is Cold Brew?
The problem with cold brew coffee is that multiple variations employ additional flavors and ingredients to enhance the flavor. Very few coffee shops sell black cold brew, and those that do often sell more of the chocolate or milk variants.
The good news is that the caloric value of cold brew without added flavors does not normally exceed 15 calories. The bad news is that the caloric value skyrockets if you drink one of the "enhanced" versions. Unfortunately, the biggest health concern with cold brew is not sugar or calories. Cold brew shares a similar weakness with Caffé Americano by virtue of its caffeine concentration. We mentioned that Americano usually has a maximum of 150 milligrams of caffeine in a single cup. Cold brew has an additional 50 milligrams, meaning a cup of cold brew can have 200 milligrams of caffeine.
This means a single cup of cold brew accounts for half your daily recommended caffeine intake, severely limiting how many cups of coffee you can have. There is less concern if you only intend to have a single cup a day. The problem is that most Americans drink between 3 to 5 cups daily. Assuming the maximum, a cold brew drinker could consume as much as 1,000 milligrams of caffeine a day.
Keep it All Natural!
There is no shortage of frosty coffee drinks between iced coffee, iced Caffé Americano, and cold brew. Insofar as your health is concerned, you are better off with simple iced coffee to avoid a caffeine overload that could cause cardiovascular damage. A reasonable dose of caffeine has several benefits, including metabolic enhancement and increased energy. However, drinking 200 milligrams in a single cup could be described as irresponsible. Even if you want to drink iced coffee, you want to make sure the grind is as healthy as possible, and you will not find that at Starbucks.
We at Bella All Natural have always maintained that the best solutions are natural. That is why we have focused on creating natural products to enhance health and beauty. While it might seem strange, our efforts extend to coffee you can use to enjoy the extra energy and reap the lesser-known benefits.
Our Skinny Iced Coffee is one of our best-selling products and provides a healthy dose of caffeine that optimizes your metabolism. One jar can replace your daily coffee for just over 2 weeks so that you can enjoy the best grind for your weight loss journey. We encourage you to visit our website and try our product yourself. Regardless of your decision, remember always to keep it All Natural!