Cold brew coffee is deliciously smooth and very popular for its bold flavor. It’s favored by many, but sometimes you just want a hot cup of coffee. If cold brew is all you have, you might wonder if you can warm up cold brew.
Cold brew is a lusciously smooth yet robust coffee that will surely put some pep in your step. Many people think that cold brew can only be enjoyed one way, iced. However, that's not true; you can heat up cold brew.
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What is Cold Brew Coffee?
Cold brew is a type of coffee made using cold or room-temperature water.
Coffee is ground with a very coarse grind size and then added to cold water to make a cold brew. Traditionally, heat would increase the speed at which water can leech flavor out of the bean, but cold brew must steep longer without heat. Making a batch of cold brew can take anywhere from 8-24 hours.
This brewing method takes longer than hot water brewing, but cold brew is more stable than iced coffee. Iced coffee is usually brewed hot and then added with ice, and this rapid temperature change can affect the flavor. Hot-brewed coffees are freshest and tastiest within one day of brewing, but cold brew can last two weeks!
Since the coffee stays at a low temperature throughout the brewing and storage process, cold brew’s flavor stays smooth. After brewing, cold brews can be kept in the refrigerator for up to two weeks without losing flavor.
Holding onto the fresh cold brew flavor is important because the taste sets this brew apart. Cold brew will vary based on the coffee beans used, but generally, it’s a strong and velvety brew. Cold brew has less bitter notes than traditional iced coffee and often tastes more fruity or floral.
How to Make or Buy Cold Brew
You can make cold brew at home or purchase it in stores. Grocery stores carry both ready-to-use cold brew and cold brew concentrate. Cold brew concentrate requires you to add water, and you’ll find both varieties near the milk at the supermarket.
Brewing coffee is all about ratios. For cold brew, the rule of thumb is 1:8 coffee to water, so for example, 1 cup of coffee needs 8 cups of water. Remember, brewing a big batch is okay with cold brew because you can keep it for two weeks.
Gather a large container or pitcher, coffee beans, a grinder, and cheesecloth to make cold brew at home. Grind the beans for about 2 seconds or until broken, then add them to the pitcher. Top with cold water, cover loosely, and steep for 12-24 hours before straining up to two times through the cheesecloth.
Best Way to Heat Up Cold Brew Coffee
With temperature playing a big role in the final cup, how can you heat up cold brew without affecting that robust flavor?
The best way to heat up cold brew is by putting it on the stove. The microwave is an unstable and potentially hazardous way to heat cold brew, so it is discouraged. The microwave heats liquid past boiling in seconds and may result in burns, so a stove is your best bet!
To heat up cold brew on the stovetop, start by adding the desired amount of cold brew to a small pot. Heat over medium-low for a few minutes until it is hot throughout. Dip a spoon and feel or taste the sample to test the temperature and check for readiness.
Does Heating Cold Brew Change the Flavor?
Yes, heating up cold brew will likely change the flavor. Temperature is a huge factor in the development of flavors, and introducing a new temperature is bound to change things.
The area of taste that is most commonly affected by temperature is acidity. This flavor note is why some say iced coffee tastes sour because the hot liquid interacts with frozen water. The same may happen in reverse when heating cold brew.
The acidity level may fluctuate when introduced to heat. The odd thing is, depending on the beans used in your cold brew, it can go either way. Sometimes heating cold brew makes it more acidic, while other blends become less acidic.
If you love drinking cold and hot cold brew coffee, experiment with different blends and brands of cold brew, as one may heat up more pleasantly than others. This trick also works with cold brew concentrate. You have to add water as directed by the manufacturer and then heat as explained above.
You can counteract the new flavors caused by heating with some coffee mix-ins, like cream and sugar.
How to Serve Cold Brew Coffee: Hot or Cold
Cold brew is delicious and can be enjoyed in any way you like, hot or cold! The same is true of the things you add in. You can go as wild as you like when dressing up with this drink!
The most popular way to enjoy cold brew is with ice and cream or milk. With so many great milk options today, a “coffee with milk” can be so much more than in the past. Cold brew is tasty with cream, oat milk, almond milk, or cow’s milk. They’re all delicious at any temperature.
Sugar and sugar syrups are also great options for cold brew. In a warm cold brew, sugar will dissolve easily, but for a chilled cold brew, you may want syrup. Sugar syrups incorporate easily into iced drinks without leaving grains in your glass.
Try this easy recipe to make a basic sugar syrup that you can in hot or cold coffees. Mix equal parts sugar and water and bring to a boil. Boil the mixture until it’s thick and syrupy and store in an airtight container in the fridge once cooled.