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Can You Heat Up Cold Brew Coffee?

Cold brew coffee is a fast favorite for many of us, but what if you want some hot coffee and all you have ready is cold brew?

Can you heat up cold brew coffee?

Yes, you certainly can heat up cold brew coffee. If you have cold brew concentrate, it’s as easy as adding hot water or milk. If you have diluted cold brew coffee, just heat it up on the stove or warm it up in the microwave and enjoy it like a regular cup of hot coffee.

a stove flame upon which you can warm up some cold brew

How to heat cold brew coffee concentrate

There are a few ways you can heat up cold brew coffee concentrate:

Dilute with hot water

The easiest way to serve cold brew coffee hot is to dilute the concentrate with hot water. It’s like an Americano, but with cold brew instead of espresso!

Diluting with hot water ensures an even distribution of flavor and the heating process is not as intense as it would be on the stove or in a microwave.

In fact, a mix of a cold concentrate and hot water will yield a cup with the ideal drinking temperature.

You can control the strength of the coffee with the amount of water you add. For a balanced cup, add as much hot water as you would have added cold water.

So if you typically dilute with a 1:4 ratio, keep that ratio for hot water as well.

For a stronger cup, add less water, and for a milder cup, add more water.

It’s as easy as that!

Dilute with hot milk

For a latte experience, dilute your cold brew concentrate with hot milk to warm it up. The result will be a very milky drink with a kick of coffee flavor.

You will have to be careful how much you heat the milk as you don’t want to scald it.

Also, bear in mind that milk will dilute the coffee flavor much more than water will, so you can do one of two things: use more concentrate, or use less milk.

How to heat up diluted cold brew

In case you don’t have concentrate lying around and all you have is ready-to-drink cold brew, you can use the following methods for enjoying cold brew coffee served hot:

Heat cold brew on the stove

Heating on the stove is one of the best ways to reheat cold brew coffee. Use very low heat(the lowest possible), and stir constantly to make sure no one part of the liquid is overheated.

Heating in this manner ensures very even distribution of heat and will prevent you from overcooking your coffee.

Only heat to your ideal drinking temperature, then pour into a mug and enjoy!

Heat cold brew in the microwave

Contrary to what some folks say, you can microwave cold brew coffee.

There’s a trick to doing it right!

Microwaves heat very unevenly, so the trick is to microwave your cold brew coffee in small bursts and stir between each one.

So you’d microwave your cold brew for 15 seconds, stir, microwave again for 15 seconds, stir, and repeat until you’ve microwaved for a total of one minute.

Note: This goes without saying, but don’t forget to remove the spoon before you microwave again!

Now that we’ve covered all the ways to heat up cold brew, there are still some pressing questions left to answer:

Can cold brew coffee be served hot?

Even though the name suggests cold brew is, well, cold, the name actually refers to the brewing method more than the way it should be served.

Cold brew is conventionally served cold, but if you prefer a mellower coffee and a smoother taste, there’s nothing wrong with cold brewing and then drinking it hot.

The only disadvantage to drinking warmed up cold brew is that you’ll use almost twice as much coffee per cup than you would by just brewing hot.

As such, drinking heated cold brew coffee is more of a coffee emergency than anything else.

Does heating cold brew make it acidic?

Another common misconception is that heating cold brew makes it acidic.

The acidity of a coffee actually comes from the brewing process itself, so once coffee is brewed and separated from the grounds, it can’t become any more acidic.

It can become more bitter and stale over time as it oxidizes, though.

Heating coffee too quickly can also overcook it and ruin the taste. That’s why we’re not big fans of warming plates and instead prefer thermal carafes for drip coffee.

Will heating cold brew alter the flavor?

When coffee is exposed to heat, some chemical reactions will inevitably take place: namely our friend oxidation.

Oxidation takes place any time coffee is exposed to oxygen, and heat only speeds it up(which is why we recommend heating very gradually).

So the taste of your heated cold brew will be a little different than if it was served cold.

This is actually observed in hot coffee as well. You’ll experience different tastes and flavors depending on how hot you drink the coffee.

Try to leave hot coffee out for 20 minutes and take a sip of lukewarm joe, and you’ll know what I mean!

Conclusion

Heating up cold brew is definitely a viable option for when you don’t have anything else on hand and are craving a hot cup of coffee.

As a permanent fixture, it’s not quite as sustainable, mainly because you’ll end up going through your coffee bean stash twice as quickly!

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