How To Keep Coffee Hot, not warm, without burning it

If only you knew how to keep coffee hot properly.....

Let’s take a look at if we can, in fact, keep our coffee hotter for longer, without running the risk of it tasting like shit, shall we? But first – we’ve got some myths to bust about keeping you coffee warm.

4 Myths About Keeping Your Coffee Hot

It’s so easy to swerve towards the quick fixes in life, but when it comes to this issue - one word of advice: don’t!

MYTH #1: You can use a hot plate

REALITY: Hot plates are great for heating shit up, but absolutely not for your coffee.

They use direct heat, so it will produce high temperature’s that can take your coffee from dreadfully cold to scalding hot. Why is this a problem? It will over-extract your coffee and make it taste bitter (1).

MYTH #2: A candle warmer will do the trick

REALITY: Candle warmers are designed to warm up scented candles (who would have thought?) and you just might find that its plate is the right size for your cup.

Don’t get your hopes up though. It uses the same concept as the hot plate; it can also take your coffee from cold and going bad to hot and bitter (and definitely bad).

MYTH #3: The microwave, just reheat your coffee in the microwave!

REALITY: The microwave is convenient, sure - just get your cup in, push a few buttons, and whaddaya know, your coffee’s hot again. There’s more to it, however.

"Coffee is a one-time use kind of deal... Reheating reorganizes the chemical makeup of the coffee and totally ruins the flavor profile. Some things just don't work to reheat, and coffee is one of them." - Todd Carmichael

You see, microwaves use radiation, so your coffee’s temperature can end up uneven. You may get a heated-up brew that’s steamy on top, and still just as cold everywhere else. To top it off, microwaved coffee also leaves a burnt-coffee aftertaste.

MYTH 4: Keeping it in the carafe will keep it hot

REALITY: Now, your French press carafe may have all the right elements for coffee brewing, but keeping it there so it stays hot is also a misconception.

It can actually give you an over-extracted cuppa that leaves a drying effect on your mouth, minus all those rich coffee flavors - not really how you want your French press brew to turn out.

How to keep coffee hot

7 Ways You Can Keep Your Coffee Hotter for Longer

Now that we’ve cleared that up, it’s time to learn about how to keep your coffee hot, without actually turning it into a bittery, sad mess.

1. Wrap it up with a scarf (or any thick piece of fabric)

Keeping your coffee hot when you’re on the move is the biggest challenge – you don’t always travel with a heat source. Good news though - if you have a scarf, a jacket, or any kind of thick fabric, simply layer it around your cup to give it a bit more insulation. If you’re camping you should have something handy.

It won’t offer long-lasting heat, but it should provide your cup of coffee a way to keep warm enough to be a pleasant drink for at least an hour more. Just enough to keep you sane ‘til you get a chance to grab a fresh hot brew.

2. Use a Cup Sleeve

Cup of coffee in cup sleeve to keep it hot

Cup sleeves are an inexpensive and handy way of keeping your coffee warmer for longer. While it’s most obvious purpose is to help make sure that your hand does not get scalded, it actually warms your cup in the process. The sleeve acts as an insulator, keeping the heat in your cup, and away from your skin.

mug sweater

You can get all thrifty and save those sleeves that you get from your favorite coffee shop, or you can check out the cool sleeves for sale on Amazon. There are paper options, knitted sleeves, neoprene sleeves, and some that can even be customized.

Keep a bunch of them in your car and in your bag, and you and your brew are always good to go.

3. Use A Travel Mug (that has good insulation)

Since you’re an avid coffee drinker, its safe to assume you have a favorite mug, right? If you do, I hope it's something that comes with a reusable lid - like one of these travel mugs. Either way - simply put a lid on it – find one that fits, or pick up something that comes with one. This simple solution not only keeps the heat in, but also the aroma and flavors of your brew.

4. Preheat Your Cup

Those who let their coffee go cold will be glad to know that preheating the cup or mug (2​​) preps it to maintain the ideal temperature of the brew for a longer time.

Coffee brewing fanatics know the value of preheating a carafe to make sure that the temperature stays at 195F to 205F, to effectively bring out the flavors of the coffee beans. 

To do this for your mug, simply fill it with boiling water. Let the hot water sit for about a minute and let the temperature spread throughout the cup, when the liquid cools down, you can throw it away (don’t waste it – put it back in the kettle for next time).

The best thing about this little hack - it doesn’t affect the taste of your brew at all.

5. Invest in a Thermos (One that Actually Works)

pouring hot coffee from a thermos into a cup

One of the most obvious ways to keep your coffee hot is to put it in a thermal mug or tumbler straight after brewing. Some coffee machines actually brew straight into a thermal carafe for you.

These gadgets are especially designed with insulating materials (3) such as stainless steel, plastic, and silicone, that can keep your coffee hot and steamy for up to six hours.

Yeti Insulated Tumbler

They work best for travel since they’re almost unbreakable and light enough to carry around anywhere. The most dependable ones can get a little pricey ($20 or more), but they also guarantee to keep your brew warm to the sip. 

6. Get a Cup Warmer for your Car

What’s worse than sitting in traffic? Sitting in traffic with a cold, bitter coffee!

The solution is simple: get one of those electronic cup warmers that you can plug into your car. Most will comfortably accommodate the size of your tumbler or the standard takeout cup.

7. Use Metal Coffee Beans

Coffee Joulies

No, its not a magic trick - these metal beans are called Coffee Joulies.

You immerse your coffee and they are designed to absorb the heat, get your java to the perfect drinking temperature, and keep it at that level for longer. Worried about accidentally swallowing them? Don’t be - they’re the size of soup spoons. To make them extra effective (if you have the time) preheat them and they’ll keep your coffee hotter, for longer.

FAQs

Can I refrigerate leftover coffee?

Yes, you can refrigerate leftover coffee. Coffee can be refrigerated for up to one week when stored in airtight container! As most things food and drink though, coffee is victim to oxidation meaning it goes bad pretty quickly. So, you don’t want to refrigerate coffee that’s been sitting out for longer than 30 minutes or so as it will have lost its flavor profile and freshness by then. 

What can you do with cold coffee?

You can do a bunch of cool stuff with cold coffee. You can use cold coffee for baking, for example, adding a kick to your favorite chocolate cake or muffin recipe. Cooking is another great way to save your cold coffee from getting chucked out - add it to a Sunday roast. You can also pimp up your smoothies and frappes on a hot summer’s day. Or make some coffee (ice) cubes to have with your cold brew; that'll get you going in the morning. 

How does water temperature affect coffee?

Water temperature affects the taste of coffee because of its direct impact on the extraction process. During the (extraction) process, the coffee’s oils, acids and other aromatic molecules are drawn out of the coffee bean resulting in a delicious cup of coffee. Brewing coffee at the correct temperature means that these so-called coffee solubles are dissolved and released into the pour at optimal capacity. too hot, and you will burn your coffee grounds. Too cold will leave your coffee flavourless.

How do you keep coffee warm for hours?

To keep your coffee warm for hours you need to invest in a well-designed thermos that has reliable heat retention. The material and design of the thermos are most important for effective heat retention. The best thermos is one from this list.

How do you make coffee on the go?

You can make coffee on the go with a travel coffee kit. Whether you’re out camping for the weekend, traveling across the country in your van or backpacking around the globe. If you’re a coffee fiend whose life depends on a good tasting (familiar) brew, investing in a travel coffee kit is non-negotiable. 

How hot should my coffee be?

Your coffee should be at the ideal drinking temperature of 150F to180F (4).  This article talks exactly about the right coffee temperature for all brew methods.


References:

  1. S. (2017, November 20). How Do I Keep My Coffee Hot? Retrieved July 9, 2019, from https://driftaway.coffee/hotcoffee/
  2. Mazzarello, B. (2018, March 06). Pro-Tips: A New Take on French Press. Retrieved July 9, 2019, from https://blog.bluebottlecoffee.com/posts/pro-tips-french-press
  3. Brain, M. (2000, April 01). How Thermoses (Vacuum Flasks) Work. Retrieved July 9, 2019, from https://home.howstuffworks.com/thermos2.htm
  4. How to Brew Coffee The NCA Guide to Brewing Essentials. (n.d.). Retrieved July 9, 2019, from https://www.ncausa.org/About-Coffee/How-to-Brew-Coffee
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