After first reading about this seeming anomaly on Extra Crispy, The Daily Meal wanted to corroborate the paradox of drinking something steamy on an equally steamy day. Turns out, the knowledge isn’t so rare — Dr. György Buzsáki, professor of neuroscience at New York University School of Medicine, told The Daily Meal that he himself had experienced the same phenomenon years ago, while hitchhiking through Turkey.
After initially protesting the off-putting suggestion, Buzsáki relented and sipped the high-temperature beverage.
“I had to admit that, miraculously, my sweating disappeared,” he exclaimed.
This sounds totally crazy. I mean, it seems like basic science: A high temperature plus another high temperature equals an even higher temperature. Why fuel the fire? But according to Dr. Buzsáki, science is exactly the reason this logic fails.
“Most feelings are based on comparisons — ratios, if you will,” Buzsáki explained. If you hold a hot test tube on its own, he says, it may feel pleasant or neutral. But if you hold the same temperature test tube beside a frozen test tube, it might feel painfully hot. “In fact, there is a condition called allodynia, in which a normal temperature is perceived as feeling freezing,” he said.
So a cold cup of coffee could actually make the heat of the surrounding air feel less tolerable by comparison. And as for the power of a few cubes of ice to make a significant difference in your actual body temperature — it’s highly unlikely.
“Add a glass of ice cubes to a hot bath,” Buzsáki said to clarify this point. “You will not notice the difference.”
Similarly, your body doesn’t notice an internal temperature difference when you drink a few sips of something cold.
But of course, a hot cup of coffee isn’t going to actually cool you down — it’s the ritual of sitting to drink it that performs the magic.
“The entire goal of having a coffee during the day is to sit down and relax in the shade,” the doctor of neuroscience explained, “and that was the ‘mechanism’ of cooling off.”
If you’re willing to face the heat, though, summer is prime time for sipping cold brew. The Daily Meal tasted some of the top brands, and these were the best.