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How to Heat Up Cold Brew and Iced Coffee

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Goodbye Cold (Brew) Coffee

Cold brew coffee is rising in popularity, as many people discover it is more mellow and definitely less bitter than traditional coffee. There is however one major drawback to switching to cold brew – it is cold! 

And nobody really wants cold coffee! Can you heat it up? Of course, and here is how to do it to preserve the most of its special flavor.

Advantages of Heating Up Cold Brew

When you heat up your cold brew you will no longer feel like an outcast, you will have hot coffee like everybody else and it will warm you up, which is a major bonus especially during the cold season. Also, when you heat up cold brew its flavor becomes more intense.

Disadvantages of Making Hot Cold Brew

In all fairness, it must be said that cold brew enthusiasts raise some objections to the idea of drinking it hot.

Heat, they say, makes the cold brew spoil faster as it increases the oxidation of coffee compounds. Normally, you can keep a pot of cold brew in your fridge for up to two weeks and it will still taste fine.

I’m sorry, but this doesn’t sound like a valid argument because you don’t have to heat up all the cold brew you’ve just made. One cup will be enough and it will not get spoiled by the time you drink it.

Another argument against heating up cold brew is that it changes its taste, making it harsher. This is, indeed, true, but it’s warm instead. Bottom line, it’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons.

How To Heat Up Cold Brew Coffee

Most people prepare a highly concentrated cold brew and store it in the fridge. It is not advisable to drink it in its concentrated form because of its high caffeine content. Since you normally dilute it with water, why not use hot water instead of cold?

Here’s how you do it.

  • Put some water in a kettle and bring it to boiling point.
  • Fill your coffee mug with boiling-hot water and leave it for 30 seconds to warm it up.
  • Discard the hot water and pour enough cold brew to fill half the mug.
  • Add the rest of the boiled water to fill the mug.

Of course, the ratio of cold brew to hot water can vary in accordance with your taste. If you feel the cold brew is not concentrated enough you can use less hot water.

How To Make Hot Cold Brew Coffee

To save you all the trouble of determining the right ratios so your hot cold brew isn’t too watery, here’s a step by step guide you can follow to get an excellent coffee drink, allowing you to enjoy both the taste of cold brew and the warmth of traditional coffee.

  • Prepare a cold brew using the 1:4 ratio, that is one part coffee grounds and four parts cold water. This recipe is enough for five cups of hot cold brew. 
  • Put 1 cup of coffee grounds in a Mason jar and add four cups of room-temperature water. Let it steep for at least 12 hours.
  • When it is time to enjoy it, simply add a cup of hot boiling water to your cold brew and you will have five cups of nice warm cold brew. It won’t be really hot, but you don’t want to drink it scalding hot anyway. After all, we leave the regular drip coffee to cool down a bit before drinking it.

This is a very fast method of heating up cold brew and it doesn’t allow for too much oxidation to alter the taste of your brew.

Heat Up Cold Brew Concentrate

Another very easy way of making your cold brew hot is to dilute the concentrate as you normally would and then put it on the stove.

Pour some concentrated cold brew in a kettle and add cold water until you get your perfect mixture.

Heat the mixture until it reaches the temperature you prefer and there you go, you have warm cold brew.

Difference Between Cold Brew And Iced Coffee

They are both cold, but they’re very different things. Cold brew and iced coffee are prepared using different brewing methods that have nothing in common. While cold brew is prepared by steeping coffee grounds in cold water for many hours, iced coffee is just regular coffee you make in a machine of your choice and you let cool down before throwing in some ice cubes.

Using cold brew concentrate to make an iced drink is very convenient as you won’t have to bother with diluting it, just put some ice cubes in the brew and that should do the trick

What Happens When You Heat Cold Brew Coffee?

As we mentioned above, heating up cold brew does alter its taste, but the difference is quite subtle and many would not even detect it. Apparently, not all the many compounds in your brew are affected by heat. The main culprits responsible for the altered taste are chlorogenic acid and quinic acid, which tend to release a bitter flavor when exposed to heat. 

On the other hand, the same thing happens when you leave regular coffee in a coffee machine with a hot plate over a long time. You might have noticed the regular coffee you get in a fast-food restaurant is more bitter than the one you make at home. In such restaurants, they make big pots of coffee and keep it hot to be ready for serving, but the constant heat affects the acids we just mentioned and the coffee gets bitter.

Does Heating Cold Brew Coffee Increase Acidity?

Those who hate the idea of hot cold brew say it does, but the truth is it depends on the heating method you use. If you put cold brew on the stove, it will acquire a more acidic taste and, once again, the main culprits are the chlorogenic acid and the quinic acid.

You can get around this problem by using hot water to warm up your brew instead of putting it on the stove. This way, the cold brew won’t be exposed directly to the heat source and it will retain its original taste.

What Does Hot Cold Brew Coffee Taste Like?

Well, if you heat it up using a gentle method, your hot cold brew will taste sweeter and smoother than regular coffee. It will also be less acidic than drip coffee. Have one of your normal coffee drinking friends taste it and they will probably be impressed!

Quick recap: Just because you prefer cold brew, there’s no reason for you to be deprived of that warm feeling only hot coffee can bring. Heating up cold brew is quite easy and, if you do it right, its smooth sweet taste will not be compromised. 

Hot cold brew is more intense and less acidic than traditional coffee, and it only takes a couple of minutes to boil some water and prepare it.

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