Why Reheated Coffee Tastes Like Death, And What To Do Instead

6 days ago
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A cup of coffee has a predetermined lifecycle: You pour a steamy mug of joe, set it down next to your laptop to refrain from burning your tongue, and before you know it, an hour has passed and your coffee is stone cold. You pop it in the microwave to nuke it for a few seconds, press the cup to your lips and grimace. It’s bitter. Bitter in a way that makes you wonder if someone poured a Romeo and Juliet-style vial of poison into it.

Does this sound familiar? No matter how you’re trying to reheat your coffee ― in the microwave, on the stovetop, whatever ― you’ve no doubt shared this experience. Because however you do it, reheating coffee brings out compounds that make it taste decisively more bitter. We talked to experts who explained how this happens and offer a few realistic solutions to help you avoid falling into this pattern.

Michael Phillips, director of coffee culture at Blue Bottle Coffee, elaborated: “It all comes down to two words: volatile compounds. And coffee is full of them. These are the things that make a properly roasted and prepared cup of coffee both taste and smell great. As you can see right in the name, however, they are volatile and easily fall to pieces. When you reheat coffee, all of the good stuff in the coffee starts to disappear and the resulting cup leans toward the more bitter components of coffee that stick around through the heating process.”

What about coffee pots that keep your coffee warm all day? Do those make coffee taste bitter, too?

Do all roasts of coffee ― dark, medium, light ― turn bitter upon reheating?

What to do instead of reheating your coffee

“People who are working from home probably already have a thermal to-go cup or an insulated cup,” Rosenberg said. “When you’re drinking from home, you might not think to use it ― you usually drink out of your mug, which will cool down a lot faster because it allows more surface area to come in contact with the air ― so I’ll just put it in my to-go mug that I’d normally take out to go get coffee at a cafe.”

“The cup will still start to falter around 30 to 45 minutes in terms of the best flavor, but it will be piping hot the whole time,” he said. “The flavor of good coffee changes as it cools, and most professionals enjoy it most at lower ranges. For me, I like it best when the coffee has cooled to around 125 degrees because the sweetness is more apparent.”

Rosenberg said you should also make sure to preheat whatever container you’re brewing into, whether you’re doing a manual brew or a Mr. Coffee. Heat up some hot water in a kettle, then pour it into your pot, swirl it around a little and dump it out before you brew into it ― voila, your pot will be warm. The same goes for the mug you’re drinking out of. Take your mug and slosh a little hot water around in it to maintain that temperature even better.

Use coffee as a way to break up your day…Read more by Kristen Aiken

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