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Can you refrigerate coffee and reheat it?

Coffee Geek Lab / Can you refrigerate coffee and reheat it?
Yurii Brown

Certified Barista

August 31, 2021

Can you refrigerate coffee and reheat it

Freshness is critical to the quality of a cup of coffee. However, making a fresh cup of your favorite coffee each time you have a craving can be tiresome. Sometimes we all wish there’s a way to make enough coffee for multiple servings in your carafe and find a way to preserve it.

One question that’s all too common among coffee enthusiasts is Can you refrigerate coffee and reheat it?” Will it retain its delicious taste when refrigerated? If you have brewed a large quantity of your favorite coffee and you cannot finish it, there are ways for you to ensure it does not go to waste.

In this guide, we will reveal how you can refrigerate coffee and still enjoy its soothing taste after reheating if you are not a big fan of drinking ice coffee.

Reasons why refrigerated coffee does not taste the same

Research by experts has shown that coffee can be refrigerated for up to a week. Because freshness is critical for coffee lovers, you can choose to reheat it after taking it out of the fridge. However, it will not taste like freshly brewed coffee as reheating coffee tends to deplete the aroma and flavor.

If you have ever wondered why the taste of refrigerated coffee is not the same as freshly brewed coffee? Here is why; when you refrigerate coffee, it starts to oxidize. This means that the oxygen molecules in the atmosphere interact with the compounds in the coffee, hence resulting in the change of taste.

The rate at which coffee becomes stale when refrigerating depends on the quality of coffee beans and the method used in roasting it. While it is impossible to avoid the oxidation process, it can be slowed by storing your coffee in an airtight container (e.g. coffee canisters).

If brewing a fresh coffee every time you crave it is burdensome for you, we recommend you store it in a fridge for only a week, after which you brew a fresh batch to be stored. Do not forget to use a coffee canister or any other airtight container when refrigerating.

Reheating Coffee on Gas Stove

Coffee lovers would be familiar with the experience of having no coffee bean to brew in your plumbed coffee maker except refrigerated coffee. So reheating it on a gas stove is your best bet if you must satisfy your craving then.

Reheating your coffee is no rocket science, but you will destroy the coffee flavor if not properly done. To properly reheat coffee on a gas stove, ensure you pour the cold coffee in a stainless steel pot and put it on low heat. Ensure you keep stirring with a spoon to distribute the heat evenly.

Although it will not taste as fresh as when brewed from the plumbed coffee maker, reheating coffee on a stove is an excellent way to enjoy your favorite coffee.

Reheating coffee in a microwave

Rather than wasting your favorite flavor of leftover coffee from Starbucks, you can use a microwave to reheat it. Microwaves are famous for roasting and blasting stuff, so you have to heat your leftover coffee low and slow.

First, ensure your mug is microwave-worthy. Then you will have to determine how long you wish to reheat the coffee. This is dependent on the quantity of coffee in the mug. At most, you need about 55 seconds (add or minus) for a half to a full cup of coffee.

If after 55 seconds the coffee is not warm to your desired temperature, microwave for another 30 seconds to ensure it is warm to your taste. The drawback in microwaving your coffee is that it may slightly turn bitter, but this can be adjusted by adding some sugar or creamer to improve the taste.

How not to reheat coffee

Having considered reheat coffee, it is crucial to note that you do not rush or blast the coffee with heat. It has to be reheated low and slow. Blasting it with heat will only ruin it.

The secret to having a reheated coffee taste great is to heat it slowly and evenly. If the coffee is in a Styrofoam cup, don’t bother saving it. Just throw away the coffee as nothing can be done for that cold cup.

Freezing coffee cubes or the whole pot

Most coffee lovers use coffee ice cubes to make a hot coffee warm and sometimes cool to room temperature. Making these coffee ice cubes is so easy and fun you could get used to it.

To make coffee cubes, an ice cube tray, coffee at room temperature, and a freezer are all you need. Pour the coffee into the ice cube tray and leave it in the freezer to make coffee cubes. Once they are frozen, you can store the coffee cubes in a ziplock bag.

When you make a pot of coffee and discover it will not be consumed within two hours, you have the option of freezing the whole pot because putting it in an ice cube tray to freeze may not be attainable. Hence freeze the entire pot, but remember to use an airtight container.

When it’s time to defrost the whole pot of coffee, move it to the refrigerator, and you will have liquid coffee in less than 24 hours. The benefit of this is that your coffee can stay fresh in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.

Storing whole coffee beans in the refrigerator

Making a quality cup of coffee starts with quality beans. Storing them properly no doubt maximizes their flavor and freshness. Experts agree that coffee should be consumed as quickly as possible after it is roasted, especially once the original packaging seal is broken (1). However, you can extend the shelf life of coffee beans by storing them in the fridge.

While an unopened sealed bag of coffee beans can last three years and more, an opened bag needs to be stored in an airtight container and kept in a fridge to last. However, different views exist on whether it is ideal for storing coffee beans in a refrigerator, considering it is hygroscopic (tends to absorb moisture, odor, and taste from the air around it).

Although it is safe and easy to store whole coffee beans in a refrigerator, its downside is that it loses its authentic flavors, and its other exciting qualities will degrade.

Other helpful tips for storing your coffee

Coffee is sometimes an expensive beverage. It may cost you a lot to brew or get from a coffee shop. So whatever your preference is, here are some valuable tips to ensure the extra espresso, Americano, Latte, or drip coffee in your carafe still tastes good after being left for a while. Now, here are the tips:
  • Ensure coffee is removed from the heat source. The common mistake most coffee lovers make when making a drip coffee is leaving the brew on the heat source for too long. You actually need to pay attention to how many watts does a coffee maker use, because this determines how fast it works. It is important you remove the coffee pot from the burner as quickly as your brewing process is complete. Leaving the coffee pot on the burner or heat source makes the coffee oxidize faster, resulting in its stale taste.
  • Keep the coffee warm without extra heat. Say you have extra coffee in your carafe that you intend to serve later. It is best if you transfer it into an insulated thermos to keep it warm. A good thermos will ensure the warmth is retained and preserve the flavor, as it is airtight. With a good thermos containing your hot coffee, you are assured of a delicious, hot coffee all day long, anywhere you may find yourself.
  • Use it in your cooking. Should you not like the taste of your brewed coffee after storing it in the fridge or freezer, we recommend you use it in your cooking rather than allowing it to go to waste. The rich flavor and aroma of coffee taste great in savory and meaty dishes.
  • Make Desert with it. Have you ever tasted a baked food where coffee was used in the baking process? The taste is nothing short of Divine. Coffee and baked foods are a match made in heaven. Therefore, we recommend you use your leftover coffee to enhance the taste of your cakes and brownies. Trust me; you would love it. A perfect example of this is mocha cupcakes and espresso buttercream.
  • Use it as a dye. Yes! You heard me right. It is high time you used your coffee for something other than drinking or food. For example, you can use your leftover coffee as a dye to dye either your hair or fabric. You can extend the life cycle of your coffee beyond weeks by using it as a dye. Give your hair, fabric, or even furniture a total makeover with your leftover brew. Using it as a dye is better than wasting it.

FAQ

How do I tell if the coffee has gone bad?

The first sign of a bad coffee is its smell. Therefore, you have to trust your sense of smell. Does it smell or have molds? If the aroma seems off, then avoid it.

Is it okay to reheat a day-old coffee?

Stale coffee poses no health risk unless it contains molds. Therefore, if the coffee was stored correctly in a refrigerator, it is safe to reheat and consume. It just will not taste fresh.

How long is coffee good in the fridge?

If your coffee is appropriately stored in an airtight container, it can last in the fridge for a week or two.

How long can coffee last if it has milk in it?

Because milk gets sour faster, it is vital to note that coffee with milk will go stale quicker than black coffee. However, if properly stored in a refrigerator, a coffee with milk can last up to a week.

What is the best temperature to reheat coffee to?

A freshly brewed coffee is somewhere between 160F to 180F. Therefore, your target when reheating should be between 140F to 160F.  Making it too hot will ruin the taste, and boiling is dangerous.

Conclusion

We believe when asked the question: can you refrigerate coffee and reheat it? You should be able to give a concise answer. However, you should not pressure yourself to drink something you do not like. If you do not want to refrigerate coffee, you can always make a fresh brew.

However, gone are the days of throwing leftover coffee. You now have new ideas to avoid oxidation and change of taste. So get creative, and do not be afraid to try out new ideas with your brew.

Do you like to refrigerate and reheat leftover coffee? On the other hand, is there a new idea you want to share with us? Please share with us in the comment section below. Thank you.

References:

  1. National Coffee Association. (2021). How to store coffee. Retrieved from https://www.ncausa.org/about-coffee/how-to-store-coffee#:~:text=To%20preserve%20your%20beans’%20fresh,a%20dark%20and%20cool%20location

Yurii Brown

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