Last updated on August 25th, 2023 by Catherine Reed
As I explored the amazing world of coffee, learning how to make cold brew coffee was a must for me. Luckily, the process is incredibly straightforward, and I adored the smooth flavor.
But of course, curiosity started getting the better of me, and I began asking myself, “Can you heat up cold brew coffee?”
Since cold brew coffee has such an outstanding flavor profile, the idea of enjoying it hot was incredibly appealing. Plus, cold brew coffee is usually made in large batches, so why not use it for both cold and hot drinks?
If you’re curious like me and have found yourself wondering, “Can you heat up cold brew coffee, and if so, what is the best way to heat cold brew coffee?” here’s everything you need to know.
- What Is Cold Brew Coffee?
- Can You Heat Up Cold Brew Coffee: Pros & Cons
- Pros and Cons of Different Heating Methods
- Tips for Preserving Flavor and Getting the Best Results
What Is Cold Brew Coffee?
Cold brew coffee is coffee that’s brewed a specific way, using a process that doesn’t rely on heating the water. Coarse-ground beans are essentially soaked in room temperature or cold water, using a ratio of about 1 part coffee to 4 parts water.
Typically, the coffee steeps for between 12 and 24 hours, then you strain out the grounds. Once strained, the coffee is good for up to ten days.
For people wondering, “Is cold brew coffee served cold or hot?” it’s usually served cold. But can you heat up cold brew coffee? Absolutely! You just need to make sure you’re good with the drawbacks of heating it up, which many do find acceptable.
Can You Heat Up Cold Brew Coffee: Pros & Cons
Heating cold brew coffee allows you to get a similar flavor profile to an iced cold brew coffee while making the drink warmer. But does heating up cold brew coffee make it acidic or otherwise change the flavor? Not really.
Cold brew coffee is generally less bitter and acidic than hot brewed coffee due to how the flavor is extracted during brewing. Heating it up after the fact doesn’t really alter how it tastes.
Another benefit is that you can make cold brew in large batches. That means you don’t have to brew fresh coffee every day, regardless of whether you want it hot or cold. So, if you’re a fan of efficiency, heating single cups of cold brew is much quicker.
Now, does heated cold brew coffee taste different than coffee that’s brewed hot? Yes, it does. Cold brew is usually considered a concentrated coffee, so it’s often much stronger when it comes to flavor, as well as caffeine.
Additionally, some cold brew coffee can end up more bitter when it’s heated. Essentially, it’ll taste less sweet, but you may be able to offset that with a touch of milk or cream.
Pros and Cons of Different Heating Methods
You have several options for heating cold brew coffee.
If you prefer a less-intense flavor, cutting it with hot water works well. But if you want the full flavor experience, this option will dilute the taste of the coffee.
Here’s what to do:
- Take an electric kettle and boil some water.
- Fill a mug with hot water to preheat it, then dump that water out.
- Use cold brew to fill the mug up about halfway, then top it off with hot water, and you’re done.
If you’re wondering, “Can you heat up cold brew coffee in the microwave?” the answer is “yes.” This option also lets you control whether you want to dilute the cold brew with water, which makes it a solid choice if you want stronger or weaker flavors.
Simply pour the cold brew into a mug (either with or without additional water) and microwave it for about 60 seconds or until it reaches your ideal temperature.
There are some drawbacks to the microwave method, though. First, it can heat your mug handle, making it harder to handle safely. You also can’t use mugs made of certain materials in the microwave. However, you can always heat the cold brew in a microwave-safe container – like a heatproof glass measuring cup first and then pour it into a mug once it’s hot.
Finally, you can go with stovetop heating. With this, you get the most control, but it can come with some drawbacks.
For example, more water may evaporate, which could strengthen the flavor past what you’re after. Fortunately, you can correct that by adding extra water. This option is also more time-consuming, but the extra precision could make that worthwhile.
Tips for Preserving Flavor and Getting the Best Results
Take your time with ratios
If you would like to preserve the natural flavor of your cold brew, the biggest tip is to take the time to figure out how much water you need to add. For an undiluted cup, you only want to use enough water to offset what will boil off.
If you prefer a less intense flavor, dilute it only a little at a time, and taste it before you add more water. If you overdid it a bit, add a dash more cold brew to the cup. That process allows you to get your personal ratio right with a bit of trial and error.
Also, heat up the cold brew coffee as slowly as possible. For example, if you’re using a microwave, choose a lower power setting to avoid rapid heating.
For the stovetop method, keep the temperature down initially and bring it up as the coffee warms. That can reduce the odds of flavor degradation.
Going slowly on a stovetop also ensures you don’t accidentally burn the coffee. Too much heat too fast can lead to a burnt taste, so have patience to get the best result when heating cold brew.
If you want to try something different, you can try Nitro cold brew coffee.
Can You Heat Up Store-Bought Cold Coffee?
Store-bought cold brew coffee is an excellent way to get the fantastic flavor profile of cold brew without having to make it yourself. But if you prefer your coffee hot, the ideal of heating it might be appealing.
While every brand is different, the answer to the questions, can you heat up Stok cold brew coffee, can you heat Starbucks cold brew coffee, or can you heat up Chameleon cold brew coffee is the same; you can heat it up!
Just be aware that you may need to adjust your process if you change brands, as each one has a unique flavor profile.
Is Cold Brew Better Hot or Cold?
Both cold and hot cold brew coffee can be delectable, so which option is better is a matter of personal taste. Honestly, I recommend trying it both ways! Then, you’ll know where your preference lies, allowing you to get the best cup of cold brew coffee for you.
Coffee Has Never Read This Good!
Sign up for a FREE newsletter to the best home brewing tips and guides
Thank you for subscribing to The Cup Coffee House Crew! There's a surprise in your Inbox 🙂
Something went wrong.
- About the Author
- Latest Posts
Catherine Reed is a freelance writer and coffee enthusiast. She has been a lover of coffee, espresso, and various café-style concoctions for more than 20 years, and enjoys exploring everything the world of coffee has to offer. Whether it’s trying out new coffee technologies or exploring small-batch creations from independent micro-roasters, Catherine is open to any coffee experience, and aims to share everything she’s learned with discerning readers interested in leveling up their coffee game.