Can You Heat Up Cold Brew Coffee? What’s The Best Way?


Warm Up Cold Brew header image

Only got cold brew coffee but are craving for a nice hot cup of joe? Can you warm up that cold brew coffee or would that completely ruin it? I’ve done some research and here are the answers.

You can heat up cold brew coffee easily by adding hot water to it. This way you bring it up to temperature quickly which limits the development of a sour taste. It also dilutes the concentrated cold brew at the same time which would otherwise be done with ice.

Why do you want to warm up cold brew quickly? There are a few reasons why you want to do this and more below.


Warm up cold brew?

Well, of course you can warm up cold brew. You can warm up anything if you’d like. The bigger question is; Should you?

To say anything about if you should warm up your cold brew coffee, we have to look at two different things;

  • Taste
  • Quality

Those two factors will decide if it’s actually a good idea to do this.

Bottled cold brew coffee

Taste

Cold brew has a much smoother taste than most other types of coffee and lacks the acidity many other coffees do. At the same time, it still has plenty of caffeine. More caffeine than most other coffees actually.

The taste is what many people love so much about cold brew. But at the same time you don’t always want to drink something cold.

Suggested post: Keep cold brew in the fridge?

Of course going from a cold drink to a hot drink will completely change the experience. Your taste buds seem to experience the same taste differently at a different temperature. Also, at different temperatures, different compounds in coffee will give you a different taste.

So, it’s clear you’re going to get a slightly different taste experience even if the taste doesn’t actually change. But does heating up your cold brew degrade the taste of cold brew?

There are tons of different compound in coffee. They all add to the taste of the beverage. Many of these acids, oils and other compounds get altered slightly with temperature changes. Of all of those things, two are important in this context. Two acids known as; quinic acid and chlorogenic acid. These acids change with heat. The result of that process is a sour taste.

Suggested post: Is cold brew coffee KETO friendly?

It’s why reheated coffee in a gas station or other places can taste sour. Often they keep the coffee hot on a hot plate for a long time which really brings out the acidic taste.

The longer you take to warm up the cold brew, the more time the two acids mentioned above have to develop. That means you want to heat it up as quickly as possible. More on that later.

So your cold brew will taste a bit more sour after warming up. It’s the taste many people don’t like about normal hot brewed coffee and the absence of which people enjoy in cold brew. However, heated up cold brew will still be a bit less sour than hot brewed coffee.

Because of the cold steeping process, compounds in the coffee grounds are extracted in different ratios than with hot water. Which has as a result that, even if it’s warmed up after brewing, the taste is still smoother. That means there is still a good reason to heat up cold brew instead of brewing hot coffee.


Quality

Besides taste we also have quality. A lot of the quality of coffee is decided by the taste. We’ve already talked about that. But is it safe to do so?

Yes, if your cold brew is still good when cold, it’ll be fine when heated up. What’s not a good idea is to heat it up then let it cool down and heat it up again. It’s definitely best to warm up your cold brew only one time.

Just heat up a single serving at a time. This way you don’t need to warm up the whole batch. That would be a waste of coffee, time and energy.

If you heat it up to the point where it’s boiling, you do get rid of a lot of bad stuff. However, boiling cold brew coffee is definitely going to adversely affect the taste and the quality.


Conclusion

Heating up cold brew coffee is fine if you want to do so. There are good reasons to want this if you don’t like other types of coffee but want something warm.

Just make sure you don’t warm it up and let it cool down over and over again. And doing it the right way helps too.


What’s the best way to warm up cold brew?

There are different ways to warm up cold brew coffee and some ways are better than others. Here’s the best way to do it;

Since cold brew is usually concentrated, it can be heated up in a very simple way; Add hot water.

Most of the time, cold brew is served over ice to dilute it a little bit since it’s so strong in its pure form. Ice is just solid water and your cold brew will become lighter and lighter the more it melts.

Now if you want to warm it up, you just do the opposite. Just fill your cup about halfway with cold brew. Then add hot water. This will give you a nice hot cup of coffee that’s not too hot and you dilute your cold brew at the same time?

Suggested post: Can you make Decaf cold brew?

Make sure the water isn’t boiling when you add it to the cold brew. The hotter it is, the more the taste will change. Bring the water to a boil and then let it cool down for a minute before you use it.

Want it to be hotter? You could add more hot water but that might dilute your coffee a bit too much. If you want to keep it strong, you can do the following things;

  • Heat up the glass before you add coffee. Pour hot water in the glass, let it sit for 30 seconds and pour it out. Then add coffee and hot water
  • Let the cold brew get to room temperature before using. This way you don’t ‘waste’ energy to warm the cold brew up from fridge temp.

This is the best way to do it since it heats up the cold brew very quickly which means less time to change the taste. It also dilutes the concentrate to a level where you would usually drink it.

Of course you can experiment with the ratio of coffee and hot water to get the temperature and coffee strength you like.


Don’t want to add any water at all? There are a few things you can do but, these options have a more acidic tasting coffee as a result because the process of heating is a bit slower, which gives acids more time to develop.

  • Just pour a cups worth in a small pot and warm it up on the stove. Use low to medium heat and don’t let it get to a boil
  • Pour your cold brew in a cup. Then get a pot and add some water. Not too much. Then put the cup in the pot. Make sure the water in the pot doesn’t get into the cup. Then heat up as wanted. Again, make sure not to actually boil it.
  • In the microwave. It’s easy and quick. No It’s nothing fancy but it does the job.

As you can see, there are plenty of choices to warm up your cold brew. Pick one you like and enjoy a hot cup of coffee! Just make sure you don’t heat it up too much. Getting it too hot might cause the taste to change.

Also avoid warming it up while in plastic. Hot plastic can not only give off some weird chemical tastes, it also leaks chemicals into your drink which is not good for your health.


Add extra tastes to hot cold brew?

It’s pretty popular to mix cold brew coffee with different tastes and add-ins. Can you still do this when heating it up?

Sure, but keep in mind that because something tastes good when it’s cold, it’ll taste good hot. Some tastes will be fine to add in when hot like;

  • Cinnamon
  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Milk/dairy

But many other tastes won’t taste as good warm as they do cold. I’m not a big fan of hot orange juice for example. Of course if you want to give it a try, go ahead.

Suggested post: 12 Amazing tastes to add to your cold brew

It’s also a good idea to add in the extra taste after you’re done heating up the coffee. When the coffee is warm you might want to use different ratios of add-in to coffee than when it’s cold. By doing it after the heating, it’s much easier to adjust the taste to your liking.


Can you freeze cold brew coffee? It’s possible to freeze cold brew coffee and use it later. There might be a small taste difference but, it’s minor. Using cold brew ice cubes is great if you want to serve your brew over ice but don’t want to dilute it.

Does cold brew go bad? Cold brew can keep up to two weeks if kept in the fridge. However, that it’s safe to drink doesn’t mean it will still taste good. After about three to four days the taste will start getting worse. It’s best to make batches small enough so you can finish it within a week.

Favorite cold brew tools

With these items, you will brew better cold brew

  • Grinder: Fresh beans have to be ground. A hand grinder like the Hario Slim (Amazon) is affordable yet effective hand grinder that will improve your cold brew.
  • Scale: The amount of grounds you use makes a big impact on what your cold brew tastes like. A simple set of scales will makes your brews more consistent. I’ve been using this one (Amazon) for over a year wit h great success. Not the most aesthetic but effective.

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