Brewing

Can You Heat Up Cold Brew Coffee? Nifty Reasons and How-To

Cold brewing has become a popular way to make coffee with many benefits such as less acidity, lower caffeine levels, and more flavor notes. There is a significant misconception that cold brew coffee can only be served cold. Of course, there are some things that you can do and some that you cannot. But there are no boundaries to trying new things, right? So, can you heat up cold brew coffee?

Yes, you can heat cold brew coffee! Cold brew usually comes in concentrated form, and heating it up can be as simple as adding hot water to dilute the concentrate into a typical cup of hot coffee. While it will affect the taste slightly, adding hot water to the cold brew lowers the acidity.

This article will explain why heating up cold brew is perfectly fine and how to heat up your cold brew. You may have seen some articles or videos about how great cold brew coffee is – now let’s look at heating it up!

What is Cold Brewing: An Introduction

Cold brew coffee is a unique and versatile coffee with burgeoning enthusiasts behind it. It is a coffee in a condensed form with an intense flavor which many coffee drinkers love.

a cup of cold brew coffee and small milk pitcher, can you heat up cold brew coffee

Cold brewing is made by slowly soaking ground beans with cold water for 12-24 hours, which extracts the flavor but not the acidity or caffeine of the coffee bean. The result is a light and sweet coffee taste that many find more mellow than traditional hot brewed coffee.

We recommend the best coffee beans for cold brew in another article. Or, if you prefer pre-ground coffee grounds, you can read more in our post on the best pre-ground coffee for cold brew.

The Inception of Cold Brew Coffee

The origins of cold brew coffee are uncertain. However, the first known use of cold water to make coffee is from Japan during the 1600s. Kyoto-style coffee, named after its massive recognition in Kyoto, Japan, is the earliest historical record of cold brew coffee.

There are some speculations that the Japanese may have learned to make cold brew coffee from Dutch traders who used to make that kind of coffee to carry it over in their ships. The U.S. had its first cold brew coffee in New Orleans. It became a big deal because companies such as Stumptown and Blue Bottle made it more accessible. However, cold brew coffee became a cult leader because of its debut with Starbucks in 2015.

Can You Heat Up Cold Brew Coffee?

Cold brew has been making waves for a while now, and it’s not just the coffee snobs who are taking notice. Over time, there have also developed some misconceptions about properly enjoying cold-brewed coffee that needs clearing up.

Cold brew coffee doesn’t always need to be served cold. If you are a fan of cold brew, fret not. There is no one way of doing things when it comes to enjoying this delicious drink — whether you prefer it hot or cold.

Most people assume that the cold brewing process makes cold brew coffee impossible to heat up or that doing so will ruin what they love about their favorite type of coffee. Have no fear; the great thing about cold-brewed concentrate is it can be heated up without ruining much of its flavor, just like any other drink! Adding water to cold brew concentrate will not dilute the concentration that much more than if you brewed it hot because there is a higher concentration already present.

The subtle flavors and rich, smooth taste of your morning cup of coffee are not lost when you heat up cold brew. The brewing process imparts these distinctive features into the final brew that adding hot water can’t change. The heating process also won’t change the caffeine content, so it’s a great way to enjoy your favorite brewing method in the winter.

Even though there are over thirty types of acids present in coffee, only two are found in cold brew: quinic acid and chlorogenic acid. These acids get heated up while using hot water. It will slowly alter their composition and release a sour taste. Other acids give a sharper and more robust flavor. However, the taste is not really noticeable, and you should still be able to enjoy your hot cold brew coffee.

So why would you want to heat up Cold Brew Coffee then? One word – Convenience.

When you are pressed for time in the mornings, do not despair – hot cold brew offers a quicker and more convenient option than hot coffee. You simply brew up a big batch of this delicious drink – then use it throughout your week to make warm cups of your favorite morning coffee.

How to Heat Up Cold Brew Coffee

What is the best way to heat cold brew coffee? You might be thinking that this sounds like a silly question. But there are many ways, and some of those methods work better than others with cold brew coffee.

Unlike other caffeine drinks such as regular coffee, cold brew coffee is generally more concentrated than other coffee drinks. This has an impact on the ways we can heat cold brew. Let’s go over the heating method options to heat cold brew coffee:

1. Heating Up with Hot Water

The most straightforward method of heating cold brew coffee is boiling some water and adding it into your concentrate. This will heat the mixture quickly without any fuss at all!

  • Heat the water.
  • Fill some boiling water in the mug for 30 seconds or a minute to heat the mug. This helps the coffee to heat up gradually without giving it a sudden surge in temperature due to the cold mug.
  • Discard the water.
  • Now fill the mug halfway with the cold brew concentrate.
  • Next, pour the water into your mug. If you like cream or sugar in your hot cold brew coffee, leave room for it!

2. Heating Up With the Kettle on the Stove

This is a great way to make your hot cold brew coffee without watering it down. I would be careful not to let the heat sit on this for too long, as that can cause burnt flavor in your drink.

  • Pour the cold brew concentrate into a kettle.
  • Add the same amount of room temperature water and heat it on medium heat.
  • Once the kettle starts to release steam, let it simmer for a minute.
  • Pour it in a mug and serve it.

3. Heating Premixed Cold Brew

This method is a little bit tricky, but some coffee makers vouch that it can produce a better hot cold brew coffee.

  • Heat the cold brew concentrate with water in a saucepan on medium-low heat for a minute or two.
  • Pour the coffee into a mug and enjoy the deliciousness.

The major issue of heating cold brew is meeting the optimum temperature to get that perfect coffee drink. Practice often, and you will be nailing it even in your sleep!

Can You Microwave Cold Brew Coffee?

There has been some debate on this. Some coffee drinkers disagree that cold brew coffee can be put in a microwave to heat it. They argue that it’s important to mix the cold brew concentrate and water in a specific way and that you can’t get the same results if you just put them together and rely on microwaves.

The microwave is a staple in any home. It can be used to cook and heat food quickly, but it also has other uses like heating water for tea or coffee on the go! I find that microwaves are wonderful because they’re so easy to use. In my opinion, it is okay to microwave your cold brew coffee as it still preserves the flavor.

To heat cold brew coffee, all you need to do is add some hot liquid to your cold brew before popping into the microwave. Wait for about a minute or so, and voila – enjoy your favorite hot cold brew coffee!

Will Heating Up Cold Brew Coffee Compromises the Taste?

When we heat or reheat coffee, specific chemical reactions will happen that alter the taste and quality of the coffee. While heating, the chemicals will contact oxygen, which will streamline the flavor into different ones.

But, since the coffee has been made by cold brew, it will limit the oxidation of molecules in the coffee. So, even though you heat the cold brew, the oxidation happens at a much slower rate than with regular hot-brewed coffee. The taste might change slightly, but you will feel the glossy, mouthful, and sugary taste all over your tongue. 

Does Heating Up Cold Brew Coffee Make It Acidic?

According to a 2018 study, the pH of hot and cold brew coffee is comparable, ranging between 4.85 to 5.13. The difference in the acidity was based on how much it was heated.

Cold brew coffee has low acidity because of its less exposure to heat during the brewing process. Therefore, heating the cold brew concentrate will have fewer changes in acidity. Heating it will keep the acidity low compared to heating the coffee itself. But most of the time, adding hot water to the concentrate is preferred over the process of heating cold brew coffee.

The word “cold brew” only refers to the way of making the coffee, not the way of serving it. Even though most cafeterias only sell cold brew coffee, ask the barista to get you a hot cup of cold brew coffee – you won’t be disappointed.

Apart from the scientific facts, it is good to sip a cold brew coffee served hot. When you need a warm feeling during the chilled weather of winter, do try this. It is a refreshing drink to lift your spirit.

Can You Heat Up Iced Coffee?

Yes, you can heat up iced coffee, but do you really want to? To answer this question in more detail, we need to understand how iced coffee is made and the differences compared to cold brew.

Iced coffee can be made by simply adding ice cubes to hot brewed coffee. This dilutes the concentration, caffeine, and flavor of the coffee, and over time, the coffee gets watered down quite significantly.

On the other hand, Cold brew maintains a strong and bold flavor due to the increased concentration level during the brewing process. So in terms of taste and flavors, you won’t go wrong with cold brew even after heating it, unlike the watered-down iced coffee.

Alternatively, you can cool your coffee in the refrigerator to make that refreshing cup of iced coffee. This will not affect the flavor so much, but the difference is that you may not get the optimal cup of cold iced coffee you desire. Another thing you might want to explore is to use frozen coffee ice cubes in your iced coffee drinks. This may be the best answer.

You can read more about making the perfect iced coffee at home in another article.

Final Thoughts: Can You Heat Up Cold Brew Coffee

In conclusion, it is perfectly okay to heat up cold brew coffee. You may not notice a difference in taste when you do this unless you are an avid drinker of hot cold brew and have the ability to compare two cups side by side. Also, heating your beverage will still keep its acidity levels low.

There are plenty of ways to heat up your cold brew, including microwaving or heating premixed cold brew concentrate and water over a saucepan. The best technique (and most convenient too) for heating up cold brewed coffee, in our opinion, is to simply add hot water to your cold brew concentrate.

We hope that this article has been helpful for you to understand more about heating up cold brew coffee, and gave you the best resource to answer the question, “Can you heat up cold brew coffee?”

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