Can You Heat Up Cold Brew Coffee? (Or Not?)

Can You Heat Up Cold Brew Coffee

I’m one of those people who love cold brew coffee. There is nothing better than a cold brew coffee on a hot summer day.

But, what if you fancy your cold brew hot? Can you heat up cold brew coffee?

Since cold brew is traditionally enjoyed chilled or over ice, you might think that warming it would destroy the delicate natural flavors and aromas that differentiate it from hot coffee.

As it turns out, when you heat up cold brew coffee, it retains its unique flavor profile (provided you do it right).

Here’s what you need to know about heating up and serving your cold-brewed coffee hot.

Person is pouring milk into two glasses of cold brew coffee

What Is Cold Brew Coffee?

Cold-brew is a method of brewing coffee. It involves steeping ground coffee in cold water at room temperature for 12 to 20 hours. This brewing method is what differentiates it from regular hot brewed coffee.

The cold water ferments the ground beans, leading to lower acidity and smooth mellow flavor compared to traditional hot-brewed coffee.

Cold brew sometimes called “cold press” or “mug brew,” should not be confused with iced coffee, which is just regular coffee brewed hot and then served over ice.

There are plenty of ways to use this strong brew without having to drink cups of it straight.

Diluting it with milk or water is one way to get your daily dose of caffeine while feeling like you’re simply drinking a refreshing flavored beverage.

Beer flavored cold brew

Store this concentrated coffee in the fridge in an airtight container for up to two weeks. Make a large batch, reheat, and dilute only what you need to retain its low acidity and original flavor.

Origins of Cold Brew

The earliest reports of coffee brewing with cold water come from 17th century Japan.

In the U.S., companies such as Blue Bottle embraced the technique, making it more accessible to everyone.

In addition, companies like Toddy created an easy way to make cold-brewed coffee at home with a device that looks like a giant tea bag holder; this device became known as the Toddy brewer.

Bottle of commercial cold brew concentrate on a wood surface

However, it wasn’t until Starbucks launched cold brew coffee in its coffee shops in May 2015 that cold brew coffee became all the rage.

How to Make Cold Brew Coffee At Home

When you’re ready for a caffeine fix, there are few things better than cold brew coffee. Making it is different from that of traditional drip or percolated coffee, and the result has a very distinctive flavor.

The first step to making your own cold brew is to gather your equipment:

·         A French press, large Mason jar (at least 1 gallon), or a coffee maker with a lid

·         Coffee filters or cheesecloth

·         Room temperature water and ice cubes

·         Coarse-ground coffee beans (preferably using cold brew coffee grounds)

French press

Then follow these simple steps:

1. Clean your chosen container (coffee maker, French press, or Mason jar).

3. Now, add in your ground coffee. Try starting with about 1/2 cup of coffee per 3 cups of water—but feel free to adjust this ratio according to how strong you like your brews.

2. Next, add room temperature water.

3. If using a coffee maker, place a filter in the filter basket of your coffee machine and add the ground coffee. Place the top on your brewer, ensuring it’s properly sealed and locked into place.

4. If using a French press or Mason jar, add the ground coffee into the press and then pour in the water. Give everything a good stir. Cover the French press with its lid and the Mason jar with cheesecloth secured with a rubber band.

5. Set the timer for 12 hours or overnight if you plan to make this ahead of time. Leave it alone for 12 hours at room temperature.

6. When the coffee is ready, strain the coffee grounds. This leaves you with a delicious, smooth, and mellow cold brew coffee concentrate that can last for up to two weeks in the fridge.

7. Top your cold brew with water, serve over ice, or add milk to create a latte-like drink.

Don’t forget: brewing your cold brew for less than 8 hours will lead to a cup of coffee that doesn’t have the full flavors.

Similarly, brewing cold brew for more than 24 hours can lead to an over-extracted and bitter cup of coffee.

Heating Cold Brew Coffee

If you’re looking to warm cold brew coffee (coffee snobs may not like it though), there are a few different methods. Each heating method uses low heat and will depend on your preferences.

Add Hot Water to Cold Brew Concentrate

The first method of heating cold brew coffee is the easiest: just add hot water from a recently boiled electric kettle at the optimal temperature of 180°F.

The hot water will dilute the flavor slightly and reduce the caffeine content, but it’ll still be quite strong. A ratio of 1:4 works best for me.

Avoid using boiling water as this can ruin the flavor of your cold coffee.

Adding hot water to cold brew coffee concentrate in a glass carafe

Heat Cold Brew Concentrate on the Stovetop

You can properly heat cold brew coffee over low to medium heat on a stovetop or hot plate until it’s hot enough for your taste buds (roughly 15-20 seconds).

Make sure you don’t overdo it.

You don’t want to put it on too high a heat, or you’ll lose the unique flavor.

Not only will you lose all of the flavors, but you’ll also have to wait for it to cool back down!

Heating cold brew coffee on a stove top

Heat Cold Brew Coffee the Microwave

You can heat up your cold brew coffee in the microwave like regular hot coffee without burning it, but it isn’t my favorite method.

This is because this microwave heating process can scald the coffee, completely degrading the coffee compounds and ruining the subtle flavors.

Steaming hot cup of hot cold brew on a wooden surface

First, heat up a mug of water for about 30 seconds in the microwave. Then pour hot water over your cold brew and stir until fully dissolved.

Put your mug into the microwave (make sure it’s not too full) and heat for about 10-15 seconds at medium-low power. Use small 10-15 second bursts, stirring your coffee in between to ensure you enjoy delicious coffee.

Why Heat Cold Brew Concentrate In the First Place?

If you want to experience the benefits of cold-brewed coffee, but prefer to drink it hot (especially in the cold winter months) then hot cold brew is a great way to go.

There is no denying that cold brew coffee is unique tasting. The cold brewing process gives it a smoother mouthfeel, while the taste is more pronounced than in hot-brewed coffee.

You also extract more caffeine (depending on your concentrate ratio) per serving than your regular cup of hot coffee.

Barista adding hot milk to cold brew to make heated cold brew coffee.

Does Heating Cold Brew Coffee Make It Acidic?

Cold brew has lower acidity than regular coffee due to the brewing process.

So, if you’re looking for a way to enjoy your favorite drink without the bitterness and acidity of a regular hot brew, this is it.

But, what happens when you heat cold brew coffee? Does it increase acidity?

Roasted coffee beans

No, heating concentrated cold brewed coffee won’t add to its acidity. This is because the chemical reactions that occur when extracting acids out of the coffee beans when reheating coffee stop when coffee grounds are no longer present.

What about the taste? If you’re worried about losing that smooth, mellow flavor you love so much when heating up a cold brew, don’t be!

You might notice a slight change in taste, but it shouldn’t be drastic or off-putting.

Cold Brew vs Iced Coffee

The coffee iced coffee vs. cold brew debate has been going on for years. Many coffee lovers like to enjoy hot coffees, mainly because it’s what they know, while others prefer their java cold as ice.

A few key differences set them apart.

Iced coffee is brewed hot with roast beans. The cold brewing method doesn’t use hot water, but cold water and time.

This means that it has a slightly bitter and acidic and taste compared to cold brew, which has a sweet and mild flavor.

Cold brew is made by steeping coarsely ground coffee in cold water for 12-24 hours to extract maximum flavor without bitterness. It’s then strained and served over ice or blended with milk or cream.

Iced coffee may seem like an easy alternative to hot coffee, but if you want the best tasting iced beverage possible, try using cold brew instead!

A glass of iced coffee with milk on a wooden surface
pouring cold brew


Does heating cold brew coffee ruin its flavor?

Heating cold brew in this concentrated form won’t affect the flavor or caffeine composition at all. Doing so is a perfect way to enjoy this coffee in colder weather. It’ll still taste just as good as before, provided you do not overheat it.

Does hot cold brewed coffee taste different?

If you’re a cold brew coffee drinker, you know that it tastes very different than hot coffee. In fact, cold brewing can make the coffee taste less acidic and have more brown flavors (similar to rubber or chocolate) compared to other brewing methods.

Can you order a hot cold brew at Starbucks?

Yes, you can order a hot cold brew at Starbucks. Even though the coffee chain typically serves the drink cold, you can ask your barista for cold brew coffee served hot.

Can you microwave cold brewed coffee?

You can microwave your cold brew coffee to make hot cold brew coffee. That’s because cold brew isn’t the same as a regular hot coffee. Heating it in the microwave doesn’t ruin its flavor profile. In fact, it makes more sense because of how long it takes to heat it up on the stovetop.

What is nitro cold brew coffee?

Nitro cold brew is a variation of regular cold brew coffee and one of the most innovative brewing methods today. The primary difference between cold brew and nitro cold brew is the addition of nitrogen gas to create a smooth texture and foamy head. The addition of nitrogen also helps preserve the flavor of the coffee for up to three days for the perfect cup.

In Conclusion: Can You Heat Up Cold Brew Coffee

To sum up, it is possible to heat up cold brew.

It will likely change the brew’s flavor profile, but not necessarily in an unpleasant way, depending on how you heat it up.

Remember, the higher the flame and longer you heat the brew, the better the chances of your coffee developing a bitter taste or burnt flavor.

Ultimately, I don’t recommend heating up cold brew unless you really need to due to time constraints or colder weather.

If you want to make iced coffee out of cold brew and don’t have time to wait, you may as well just make hot drip coffee and add some ice cubes.

Further reading: Cold Brew Coffee vs Hot

Person pouring cold brew coffee into a cup next to a glass of sparkling water

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