The Reason Hot Coffee Has More Caffeine Than Iced Coffee

Are you a hot coffee or an iced coffee person? While switching seasonally is a natural choice, there are a variety of factors that can influence which camp someone falls in. And coffee temperatures are in fact a generational divide; according to a survey conducted by Califia Farms, 94% of hot coffee drinkers are boomers, while 40% of iced coffee drinkers are part of Gen Z (via SWNS Digital). But overall, iced drinks may reign supreme. In Q3 of 2021, almost 75% of Starbucks drink sales fell under the "cold category." Even pumpkin spice lattes, which are traditionally a warm drink enjoyed in the cooler autumn months sold more in their iced form (via Delish).

The reasons people prefer iced drinks over hot can range from a more fun drinking experience to a quicker way to inundate your system with caffeine (straws are superior to burning your mouth). And while it may be easier to slurp down an iced latte, hot coffee actually has more caffeine. A grande iced coffee from Starbucks, for instance, has 165 mg of caffeine, while a grande hot Pike Place medium roast has a whopping 310 mg. So why does hot coffee give us a greater buzz than cold?

Ice dilutes the coffee

If you're looking to get the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to caffeine content, you're going to want to stick with hot coffee. It's not about the coffee itself — iced coffee is typically made by just pouring hot coffee over ice, so the ice takes up space that could have belonged to more coffee. If you have one cup of hot coffee and one cup of iced coffee, you're simply going to have more of the buzzy drink in the hot one.

Luckily, there is a middle ground. Cold brew, which is made by steeping ground beans in water for at least 12 hours, typically has more caffeine than iced coffee, but less than hot. A grande cold brew from Starbucks, for instance, has 205 mg of caffeine, which falls right in between our earlier examples of the chain's hot and iced coffees. So if you simply can't bring yourself to risk burning your tongue on a piping hot cup of joe, you may want to turn to cold brew for an extra boost.

There are a few other variations you can play around with as well — instead of ordering an iced coffee, try getting an iced espresso, which typically will give you more of a buzz. Or, opt for less cream and sugar in your drink, since these will dilute your cup even more.