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Can You Heat Up Cold Brew Coffee? 3 Ways to Correctly Heat It

How to make cold brew in a French press

Cold brew coffee is relatively new to the coffee scene, so there are many questions about how it’s made and what it can be used for. Although the name suggests that it’s mostly for iced coffee drinks, cold brew coffee is just as tasty warmed up.

Being careful not to burn the cold-brewed coffee, you can heat it up at home and taste a smooth, sweeter cup compared to a drip-brew coffee maker. Here’s how to heat cold brew coffee and why you should try it:

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Can You Heat Cold Brew Coffee?

hot coffee
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Yes, you can enjoy cold brew coffee heated up! Cold brew is known for being very smooth in flavor, but it doesn’t have to be enjoyed only as an iced beverage. Although it seems counterintuitive, heating cold brew coffee is a great way to enjoy it. Since most cold brew coffee is often made with dark roast coffee blends, the result is hot dark roast coffee without the acidity that hot coffee usually contains.

Top 3 Ways to Heat Up Cold Brew Coffee:

1. Hot Water (For Cold Brew Concentrate Only!)

Most cold brew coffee sold online and in stores is concentrate, so you need to add water before drinking it. Hot water is the best method to heat cold brew coffee simply because there’s little risk in “burning” it, creating an unpleasant bitter taste. Heat water to the point of boiling and add it to your cold brew coffee, then add creamer or sugar as you would with regular coffee.

2. Microwave

If the store-bought kind you have is not a concentrate, the microwave can warm up cold-brew coffee. Microwave it in 30-second increments, heating it until it’s hot enough to enjoy. Be careful not to let it boil or burn, which will change the taste. Use caution when using a microwave and use a microwave-safe mug.

3. Stovetop

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If you have either a cold brew or cold brew concentrate, you can heat it on the stovetop. Add the cold brew to a saucepan and add water if it’s needed. Then heat it on low-medium heat and make sure it doesn’t boil. Once it’s hot enough, pour it into a mug and adjust it to your liking with cream and sugar.

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What is Cold Brew Coffee?

Cold-brewed coffee is simply coffee that has been brewed completely in cold water, usually left to steep from ten to sixteen hours. There are different methods that produce the same result, which is a strong, mellow coffee without the acidic flavor that regular coffee has. It’s also easy to make at home with a French Press or a cheesecloth, so it’s not as difficult as it may sound.

cold brew coffee
Image Credit: Abi Porter, Flickr

Cold brew coffee is very caffeinated and strong when before dilution, which is adding water to the concentrated cold-brewed coffee to dilute it. Diluting it will not only lessen the amount of caffeine, but it adjusts the strength of the flavor and make it more suitable to your taste. Make sure to dilute cold brew concentrate before drinking it — the caffeine content is way more than a cup of coffee as a concentrate!

Cold Brew Coffee vs. Iced Coffee

Iced coffee and cold brew coffee may seem similar at first, but they have different flavor profiles and brewing methods. Iced coffee is brewed hot with regular or dark roast beans, whereas the cold brewing method doesn’t use any heat or hot water. Iced coffee has a slightly acidic and bitter taste from the hot water, but cold brew has a sweeter, milder flavor.

Making Cold Brew at Home

Cold Brew Coffee
Image Credit: Pradeep Javedar, Unsplash

Making cold brew coffee is simple to do but difficult to master since steeping time and coffee bean roast will change the end result. However, as long as you don’t steep the coffee for too short or too long, you’ll have a successful batch of cold brew concentrate. Remember to add water to dilute it before drinking it, whether heated up or iced.

French Press Method of Cold Brew Coffee

  • Add ½ cup coarsely-ground coffee beans to the French press. For lighter roasts, add ¾ cup.
  • Add 2 cups of cold, unfiltered water to the pitcher, then add the plunger. Keep the plunger upright.
  • Cover the top with cellophane to ensure it is sealed. Place in the refrigerator for 12 to 16 hours.
  • Remove from the fridge and push the plunger down completely, pushing it down until it stops. Don’t push down too much on the coffee beans, or it can create a bitter taste. Use within 5-7 days.

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Heating Cold Brew Coffee: Conclusion

Cold brew coffee sounds like it’s only for iced coffee, but it’s more versatile than it seems. Cold brew can be heated up, and it has a lot of great flavor qualities that make it a great hot beverage. Although it takes a while to make, cold brew coffee is very popular for its convenience. Whether you have cold brew concentrate or you’re making it at home, you can easily heat it up for a change.


Featured Image: New Africa, Shutterstock


Sean Brennan

Sean’s obsession with coffee started when he received his first French press as a gift almost ten years ago. Since then, his love of coffee – and the number of coffee gadgets he owns – has grown considerably. A scientist by training, there is no stone he has left unturned in the never-ending quest for the perfect cup of coffee. He has spent many hours tuning his pour-over technique, thinking about how to best compare grind quality, and worrying about whether the Nicaraguan or Kenyan beans will make the best cold brew. These days he favors the Hario V60, and starts each day by hand grinding his coffee before enjoying a cup prepared with care and attention to detail.

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