Making a hot cup of coffee to kick-start your day only requires three things: ground coffee, a mug, and hot water. Filters and fancy equipment can be nice to have and change the coffee-making experience but aren’t strictly necessary. As long as you have ground coffee and hot water, you’re good to go, and how you heat that water doesn’t matter much…or does it? If you’re looking to save time and make coffee in the microwave, you might have heard that heating water in the microwave isn’t the best option for making coffee.
This article will explore how to make coffee in the microwave and discuss an important issue related to heating water in the microwave.
How to Make Coffee in the Microwave
- Microwave-safe mug
- 12 ounces water
- 1 ounce ground coffee
- Fill your mug with water and place it in the microwave. Water takes about 2-3 minutes to boil in the microwave, depending on your microwave’s wattage. A benefit of heating water in your mug is your coffee will stay hot for longer since the mug is hot and won’t suck heat out of your coffee.
- Let the water sit for about 30 seconds, so it cools to approximately 205ºF, the optimal temperature for brewing coffee.
- Stir in your ground coffee. If you don’t have a filter, you’ll have to make do by leaving the grounds in your mug. This isn’t as bad as it sounds at first and won’t taste overly strong and bitter if you drink your coffee quickly.
- Be careful to avoid the sludgy mess at the bottom of your mug. We’ve wound up with a mouthful of grounds before, and it is not something we care to experience again.
Is Microwaved Water Different?
The short answer is no. Boiling water is boiling water, and how it reaches the boiling state doesn’t matter. However, there is one thing to be aware of when heating water in the microwave that is extremely important.
Sometimes, water heated in the microwave actually gets hotter than boiling, a phenomenon called “superheating.” Wait a minute, isn’t water that’s hotter than boiling just steam? Usually, yes, but microwaved water is a different beast because of how a microwave works.
We won’t make this into a physics lesson, but microwaves heat water using a completely different mechanism than traditional methods like boiling water on a burner on the stove. When water is boiled on a stovetop, convection causes hot water to rise in the pot, stirring and disrupting the coffee. The action of stirring causes bubbles to form and, ultimately, for water to boil.
When you heat water in a microwave, convection doesn’t happen, and sometimes water heats up without showing any of the usual signs of boiling. It might appear as if the water is cool when in reality, it is superheated to or beyond its boiling point. When superheated water is disturbed, it will violently boil all at once, creating a dangerous explosion of boiling water and steam.
To avoid accidentally superheating your water in the microwave, only heat the water in short bursts of 1-2 minutes. After each time you heat the water, give your mug a bump to disrupt the water and get it sloshing around. Once you’re sure it isn’t superheated, you can put the microwave back on and repeat the process in 1-2 minute chunks until your water boils.
Microwaves are handy gadgets and are useful for making coffee quickly. If you use a manual brewer, you can use microwaved water in exactly the same way you would normally use hot water. If you don’t have a filter and need a quick and dirty way to make a cup of coffee, try our microwaved coffee recipe. It won’t make the cleanest cup you’ve ever had, to put it mildly, but it can be surprisingly drinkable when you’re in a pinch.
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Featured Image Credit: Maliflower73, Shutterstock