Hot Cold-Brew Coffee: Can you drink it that way? (& How)

As you might’ve noticed based on some of my previous posts, I’m quite a fan of this method of brewing a cup of Joe. It’s easy to execute and results in a delicious cup, but have you ever thought whether you can heat up cold brew coffee? I know that some people have been doing that for quite a while, but should you follow their steps? Would heating up a cold brew concentrate make it more acidic? And, most importantly, would it taste good? If it’s as delicious as the iced version, why isn’t a tall hot cold brew coffee a common order at Starbucks?

Let’s find out.

Can you warm up cold brew coffee?

At first, the whole idea of having a warm cold brew sounds a bit controversial.

Nevertheless, we shouldn’t blindly disregard the possibility of having this type of drink hot.

So here’s whether you can heat up cold brew coffee:

Cold brewing is a coffee brewing method, which involves soaking ground beans in cold or room temperature water instead of hot water. The same way you can have a cup of hot-brewed coffee served iced, you can warm up a cold brew and have it served hot. Therefore you can definitely heat up cold brew coffee and drink it warm.

Having your cup of Joe prepared by implementing the cold coffee brewing method has its advantages. The whole process of extraction takes longer, but the result is smooth, rich, and tasty coffee.

It’s quite easy to make a batch of cold brew and if you have the concentrate stored in an airtight container, it will be good to use for as long as 2 weeks.

This is a perfect set-it-and-forget-it brewing technique that’s great for beginners, as it’s hard to mess up and the good results are consistent batch after batch.

It’s also worth mentioning that since coffee solubles dissolve at different rates, some of them that are responsible for unpleasant bitter taste, don’t get dissolved when cold water is used.

This is why many coffee drinkers enjoy having cold brew pure black – it tastes somewhat sweeter and more pleasant compared to hot-brewed.

Not to mention that you don’t need expensive coffee gear to make coffee that way.

Those are some of the reasons why you might want to have cold brew coffee both hot and iced. So you can have it cold during the summer and heat it up when it gets cold outside to make it suit your coffee desires.

Now that we’ve cleared this out, let’s see what’s the proper way of having cold brew coffee warmed up.

What’s the best way to heat it up?

Now that we know that it’s totally fine to heat up cold brew coffee, let’s see how you can do that.

You can have your concentrate diluted as usual and heat it up in the microwave or on the stove. I would recommend sticking up to using the stove on low heat. Make sure you don’t leave it there for too long, as this will most likely compromise the flavor. You might as well have your concentrate heated up and then dilute it with water, but this would have a negative effect on your coffee’s taste, so I don’t recommend doing so.

With that being said, here’s the best way to heat up cold brew coffee:

  1. Heat up water in a pot on the stove or by using an electric kettle.
  2. Turn off heat source when water starts boiling.
  3. Get your cup and have it preheated by pouring some of the hot water and discharging it.
  4. Pour cold brew concentrate in the preheated cup.
  5. Dilute concentrate with the hot water.

That is the proper way to have your cold brew coffee hot.

It will still have this smooth yet rich taste. By following the aforementioned steps you’ll definitely be able to sense the beauty of having a hot cold brew coffee.

If you leave it on the stove or have it microwaved for too long some chemical reactions will occur and they would lead to unpleasantly sour coffee taste. Along with that some of the liquid will evaporate making the already sour drink more concentrated.

Long story short – you won’t have your cold brew spoiled if you heat it up properly.

Not to mention that the best way to do it is actually the easiest.

You can even skip the step where you preheat the cup if you’re in a hurry. I often skip it too by only following these steps:

You might also dilute the concentrate with warm milk. I prefer adding hot water to my cold brew to make it warm, and then adding a splash of milk:

Is heated cold brew coffee more acidic?

As I mentioned, when you warm up or reheat coffee some chemical reactions occur.

For example, by heating up coffee the chemical reactions with oxygen (which degrade flavor) are accelerated. This causes rapid “aging” of your coffee and it starts tasting bad. Nevertheless, it’s considered that degradation and oxidation of coffee molecules are slowed down when brewing with cold water instead of hot. Therefore, it’s safe to say that it’s overall better to prepare a large batch of cold brew coffee and have it diluted with hot water, instead of brewing a large batch of hot brewed coffee and reheat it when you want to have a cup.

When it comes to acidity cold brew coffee is widely considered as less acidic compared to coffee that’s been brewed with hot water. I have stumbled upon articles which claim that cold brew coffee is up to 65 % less acidic compared to regular coffee. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find a trustworthy scientific paper that confirms these claims.

The acidity of coffee varies depending on the exact type of coffee beans you use. According to this scientific report published in 2018 there isn’t a huge difference in the PH values of hot and cold brew coffee.

With that being said, here’s whether heating up cold brew coffee would make it more acidic:

If you warm up cold brew coffee by diluting its concentrate with hot water, its acidity wouldn’t be significantly altered.

On the other hand, if you heat the coffee itself on the stove or in the microwave there is a somewhat higher chance of acidity increase. So follow my recommendation of diluting the cold brew concentrate with hot water for an overall better result.

Can you order a hot cold brew at Starbucks (or at a cafè)?

Even though cold brew is usually served iced, you can ask the Starbucks barista to have it served hot instead. After all, the name “cold brew” describes the way a coffee is made, not how it’s actually served.

Nevertheless, it’s a bit intimidating to ask for this type of drink, especially when such orders are quite uncommon.

Nowadays, more and more people prefer having a cup of smooth hot cold-brewed coffee. Nevertheless, many baristas would (unmannerly, if you ask me) roll their eyes when a customer asks for theirs to be served warm.

The way they handle such orders at Starbucks or other cafès differs.

At some places, they will immediately understand your request and have the cold brew concentrate diluted with hot water. At others – they might be a bit surprised, but don’t be shy and ask them to cut your coffee with hot instead of cold water.

If they react rudely, don’t mind their ignorance, smile, and move on with your day. Don’t waste your time and energy to explain yourself, just make it clear that they’ve heard you right. You might as well show them this photo illustration to make things easier:

Over to you

Now you know that you can have hot cold brew coffee, and that the best way to have it heated is to dilute the concentrate with hot water.

You can make a large batch that will last for 2 weeks, store it in an airtight container and make your coffee both hot and iced in no time whenever you want.

Drop me a comment below if you have any questions or suggestions that I haven’t included in this Woke Lark article.

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