Iced coffees are delicious and hot coffees are a staple of life as we know it, but a hot coffee gone cold is just not right.
Can you reheat coffee without ruining it? If you’re a highly critical coffee connoisseur with an expertly fine-tuned palate, maybe not. But for the rest of us, the best way to reheat coffee is slow and steady in a pot on your stove.
There’s no argument that fresh is best, but sometimes quick and easy is what is you’re in the mood for.
In this article, we’ll discuss multiple effective ways to reheat your coffee, with considerations paid to different types of brews made in different ways and, of course, your busy lifestyle.
The Best Way to Reheat Coffee
Before you reheat your coffee, there are a few things you should know about the special bean that caffeinates your life. The flavor of each coffee bean is largely determined by how it’s roasted because the chemicals inside react to heat.
While the majority of the flavor is fixed in place by the time your personal coffee is brewed, reheating it will restart the reaction and result in a flavor change. To some, it’s hardly noticeable. To others, it’s not even worth drinking any longer. You’ll have to make that choice for yourself.
You’ll also notice that the heavenly scent of coffee almost disappears after it’s initially brewed. You may not realize this, but what we taste is heavily influenced by what we smell. The loss of aroma will also impact how your coffee tastes and appeals to you the second time around.
One final thing to consider is your health and safety. If your morning cup has simply gone cold, you can reheat it without worrying too much about safety, but bacteria love coffee, so if your pot has been sitting overnight, it’s best to simply pour it out and start fresh.
Ideal Temperature of Coffee
The temperature at which you drink your coffee also affects the taste as it dictates how slow or fast the flavors from the beans are extracted.
Coffee that is too hot can become bitter, whereas a coffee that has cooled down too much or that is made with water that is not hot enough, will have a flat, less full-bodied flavor.
Most coffee shops will serve their coffee between 180-185F, though the average coffee drinker waits until it cools down to a more temperate 150F.
If you’re steeping coffee at home or making a pour-over, the best practice is to boil your water but let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes before using to make your coffee. A coffee maker should be set up to heat the water appropriately in the first place.
Before we get to the heating process, there’s a bonus tip we wanted to offer you, in case you’d like to test it out for yourself.
There is some disagreement on the matter, so we’re chalking it up to personal choice: before heating, add a tiny pinch of salt to your cup. The theory is that the salt will help reinvigorate the caffeine compounds, enhance the flavor and temper the bitterness.
If your coffee tasted delicious but got cold before you could finish it, let’s discuss a few ways to accomplish the tasks without ruining your morning cuppa in the process.
Reheat Coffee on your Stovetop
If you’re going to reheat your cup of coffee, the best way to do it in order to protect the flavor as much as possible is to heat it on your stove where you can control the temperature better.
By heating it slowly, the chemical reactions that continue to change the flavor are less intense and you’ll also be less likely to end up with burnt coffee.
Pour your cold coffee into a small pot and heat it on low to medium heat until it is steaming, but not boiling. Pour it back into your cup and enjoy it!
Reheating Coffee in a Microwave
If you’re really jonesing for your caffeine, there’s a good chance you don’t want to wait for it to reheat slowly on the stovetop. The next best solution is your trusted friend, the microwave.
If you know how to adjust the heat settings on your microwave, the ideal would be to nuke your coffee on medium heat for 1 minute or less. This will vary depending on how cold your coffee is and how hot you like to drink it.
If you’re not sure about the temperature, start with 20 seconds and check it. Add another 20 seconds if it’s needed and continue like that until your coffee is perfect once more.
Before you press start, remember to pour your brew into a microwave-safe mug if it isn’t in one already.
Can You Reheat Coffee in a Convection Oven?
Countertop convection ovens have been replacing microwaves in many homes over the past few years, but can you heat up your coffee in one? Yes, you can, but it’s not convenient.
A convection oven is, after all, an oven. If you put in your mug of coffee when you go to take it out again the mug is going to be scalding hot.
The workaround here would be to warm up your coffee nice and slowly as we’ve already discussed then, using hand protection, remove the cup and pour the coffee into a fresh cup that’s safe to handle.
Otherwise, by the time your cup cools down enough to handle your coffee will be cold again.
Is Reheating Coffee in a Coffee Maker Okay?
No, reheating your coffee in the coffee maker is not ideal. Many coffee makers are designed to keep your coffee warm, which is perfect, but if you put the coffee back into the canister and turn the heating element on, you’re likely to scald the bottom of the coffee, potentially ruining your pot and definitely ruining the flavor of your coffee.
The heating plate is designed to maintain warmth, not create it. It doesn’t get hot enough for the heat to transfer throughout the whole pot, but it will warm up just the bottom layer of liquid enough to damage it.
Reheating Coffee With Milk, Cream, Sugar and Other Additives
If you’ve added cream and sugar or other flavorings to your coffee, you’re going to want to be extra careful about warming it up again.
Dairy scalds very easily, especially when there’s also sugar involved, and it’s equally at risk for curdling. Heating it up too quickly is a recipe for disaster so make sure you pay attention to the low or medium heat rule.
You also want to be sure that your coffee hasn’t been left out for too long, as dairy and other dairy-like products are prone to going off quicker than black coffee.
Can You Heat Cold Brew Coffee?
You can! Cold brew coffee is different from iced coffee, so it’s important to distinguish between the two.
Iced coffee is simply any type of traditionally brewed coffee poured over ice so that it’s cold.
Cold brew coffee is made by steeping coarsely ground coffee beans in room temperature water for long periods of time, up to 12 hours in most cases. The result is a highly concentrated coffee drink.
There are 2 common and delicious ways to heat up your cold brew coffee:
- Warm a mug by pouring a small amount of boiling water inside, swirling it around and then discarding it. Fill your cup halfway with cold brew and then top it off with boiling water that has been sitting for 5 minutes.
- Pre-warm your cup as above, fill it halfway with cold brew and top with steamed milk. Your coffee won’t be nearly as hot and it won’t stay warm for as long as if you used boiling water, so drink it immediately for maximum enjoyment.
Can You Reheat Bulletproof Coffee?
Yes, you can reheat bulletproof coffee, and I just so happened to have written an entire article about it! You can read it here.
The stovetop method is ideal here because the butter and MCT oil can cause your coffee to make a mess in the microwave from the splattering oils. Pull out a small pot and a whisk and heat your bulletproof brew over medium heat, stirring constantly to reintegrate the oil with the water.
Heating Starbucks Coffee
Starbucks coffee cups expressly tell you not to reheat your cup. This is for two main reasons:
- They cannot stand behind the quality of reheated coffee, and therefore advise against it
- Their cups have a very thin inner lining that is not microwave friendly
If you must reheat your Starbucks coffee, you should transfer it to a microwave-safe mug first, then reheat it according to one of the methods outlined above. Certainly, Starbucks would prefer you to simply buy a fresh cup.
Alternative Solution to Reheating Coffee
Drink it cold, but proper cold. Add some ice to your cup and pour your room temperature brew over the ice.
Is it bad to reheat coffee?
Whether or not it’s bad to reheat coffee really depends on your personal definition of “bad” and how discerning your coffee palate may be.
Reheating coffee can burn it if you’re not careful, but as long as it’s not more than 12 hours old, it’ll be safe to drink, unless you have a sensitivity to caffeine, of course.
However, almost every regular coffee drinker can notice a difference in flavor once their cup of java has been reheated. Whether or not that is “bad” enough to dissuade you from reheating your own cup is entirely a question of personal taste.
Does reheating coffee destroy caffeine?
There is a lot of conflicting opinion on this one. As a general rule, heat damages nutrition, so it stands to reason that reheating your coffee or making it extra hot in the beginning would affect the levels of caffeine.
In our research, most experts agree that reheating coffee will not affect your hit of caffeine, though there are plenty of self-proclaimed coffee aficionados who would beg to differ.
Do coffee mug warmers work?
Coffee mug warmers work much the same as the burner on a coffee maker. They conduct heat into whatever container is sitting on it.
It won’t necessarily reheat cold coffee, but it will keep your mug and the coffee inside it warmer for longer if you happen to be a slow drinker.