Iced coffee is a delicious, refreshing drink in the summer, and any time of the year really. But can you heat up iced coffee without sacrificing its tasty flavor?
Some coffee drinkers stick to hot coffee. Others prefer only iced. And then there’s the sweet spot of coffee lovers who enjoy both hot and cold coffee.
I’m in that camp. I love coffee in any form! Hot, cold. Heck, I even devour those chocolate-covered coffee beans you sometimes get at those fancier drive-thru coffee shops.
Ok, “fancy” and “drive-thru” may be oxymorons, but that’s beside the point. Let’s get back to the focus of this post: heating up iced coffee.
Just so we’re all drinking from the same cup here, I’ll be focusing mainly on iced coffee, rather than cold brew.
While I will touch on cold brew and whether you can warm that up toward the end of this post, most of it will relate to iced coffee.
So, can you heat up iced coffee? And not weaken the taste? The answer is yes, you absolutely can. In fact, there are 2 main ways to do so.
- Heating up iced coffee on the stovetop
- Warming up iced coffee in the microwave
Let’s dive right in.
How to heat up iced coffee on the stovetop
A great way to heat up iced coffee is on the stove. It’s easy, it gives you the most control over the temperature, and it’s the best way to keep the original taste of the coffee.
To do it, you simply transfer your iced coffee from your cup into a small saucepan and warm it up gradually on the stovetop. The key is to heat it slowly. You don’t want to boil it because that could burn the coffee and make it acrid and bitter.
Also, stir the coffee frequently so it can heat consistently.
How to warm up iced coffee in the microwave
Another good option is the microwave. And this is also pretty easy to do. If your iced coffee is in a plastic container, first transfer it to a ceramic coffee mug or another microwave-safe cup.
Then set the time to 90 seconds and hit start. Check on it every 30 seconds to make sure it isn’t overheating, as it could start to boil over and splash all over the inside of your microwave.
Just as you would with regular hot brewed coffee, it’s a good idea to add milk, creamer, or sugar at the end — in this case, after the iced coffee is warmed up.
The microwave is a good way to go if you’re in a hurry or don’t want to deal with cleaning a saucepan or pot.
How to heat up instant iced coffee
Iced coffee also comes in instant form, and heating it up is just as easy as the other methods above.
Usually, with instant iced coffee, you pour the contents into a container with cold water, mix, and enjoy. In order to get a warm version, you simply switch out the cool water for hot.
First, boil water or heat some in the microwave. Then add the instant powder or crystals to a mug containing the hot water. Stir until the powder is completely mixed. Add creamer or sugar to your taste preferences.
Basically, instead of making iced coffee, you’re using the instant powder to make “hot” coffee. It likely won’t taste the same as brewed iced coffee, but instant coffee usually doesn’t taste the same as freshly made anyway. So you may sacrifice some flavor with this method.
Are there ways to warm up cold brew coffee?
Cold brew and iced coffee are not the same. They use different brewing methods which affect the flavor and texture of each.
To make iced coffee, you first brew a pot of regular coffee, then cool it to room temperature. Then you can chill it in the refrigerator or add ice cubes to create the iced coffee. This method results in a coffee that is less intense than cold brew and may be a bit more bitter.
Cold brew is steeped in cool or room temperature water for several hours. Then the coffee grounds are strained. To complete the brewing process, the coffee is then chilled.
The lengthy cold brewing process results in a smooth, intensely flavored coffee. It also boosts the caffeine content compared to a similar cup of hot-brewed coffee.
The good news is, you can heat up cold brew coffee without giving up too much of those rich coffee flavors. Here are a few different ways to do it.
Ways to heat up cold brew coffee
Boil it on the stove
One of the best methods to heat up cold-brewed coffee is on the stove top. Simply transfer some of the cold brew to a saucepan and start to heat it up. Do this over low heat until it just reaches a boiling point or until you get your optimal temperature.
This method will retain the intense coffee flavor the best, but you want to watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn. That could give it a bitter taste.
Add hot water
An easy way to get hot cold brew is to simply add some hot water to it. This will serve to heat up the cold brew, but it will also dilute it, so you’ll lose some of the intense flavor. Just adjust the amount of hot water to your tastes.
Another popular way to heat up cold brew is to microwave it. Just place your cold brew in a microwave-safe mug, and start heating it for about 30 seconds. If it’s not hot enough, heat in additional 15-second intervals to reach the desired temperature.
Cold brew coffee concentrate
To make regular cold brew from cold brew concentrate, you need to add cold water to dilute it. To make hot cold brew coffee, just use hot water instead.
First boil water, then fill your mug halfway with concentrated cold brew and the rest with the hot water. Mix together and you’ll have a hot cup of cold brew.
What does warmed-up iced coffee taste like?
Warming up iced coffee (and cold brew) is sort of like heating up leftovers. It’s not quite as good as the original, but if done right, it can still be pretty tasty.
While heating iced coffee can make it taste a bit bitter or somewhat blander than the original cold version, it can still retain most of the coffee flavor, depending on the reheating method. For best results, you can mellow out some of the harsher notes or acidic taste with creamer and sweetener.
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