You don’t need to be in a bind to want to use something besides the microwave to heat up your coffee. It’s entirely possible to use other parts of your kitchen to heat up a whole pot or just one cup of coffee.
So if you have leftover coffee from your home espresso machine or you went to the local cafe and couldn’t quite finish the whole thing, we have some options for you.
Reheating coffee without a microwave is easy. You’ll either want to use the stove, the steam wand on your espresso machine. The best method of reheating coffee is slow and either the stove or a steam wand are more than capable.
Why not the microwave?
Part of what makes coffee so good is the aroma and the taste. The microwave gets very hot and encourages the production of the acids in your coffee that make them taste bitter. The pumpkin spice latte you bought probably won’t taste much like pumpkin after getting nuked in the microwave for a minute.
Freshly brewed coffee has the right balance of bitter and sweet – also often masked by cream, sugar, and syrup. Of note, coffee is not meant to be reheated. The drink tastes bests when it stays at a particular temperature which allows its full flavor profile to come out. The bitter and sweet ends will collide as the coffee cools down.
If your coffee is purely to inject some hot, caffeinated liquid into your digestive system and blood stream, then go bitter if you want. Here are some more details about how to use other methods to heat up your coffee that taste better.
Heating coffee on the stovetop
The stovetop is one of the easiest methods, in part because almost every household has one. If you are at work, your work kitchen might even have a stove.
How do you do it? Here we go.
- Pour the coffee into a small pan. The depth of the pan isn’t important so long as it’s deep enough to hold the coffee. Another option here is a tea pot or a percolator.
- Turn the burner on to medium heat.
- Let the coffee rest over heat until it’s hot enough for you.
- Use an oven mitt to remove the percolator or pot. Be careful with the percolator and use only the oven mitt. They tend to have small handles that can squeeze your fingers.
- Carefully pour the coffee out to check the temperature. If not hot enough, put it back in the pan or percolator and keep the burner on.
The big advantage to heating up slowly on the stove is that the heat shouldn’t reach a temperature where it makes the coffee very bitter. A stovetop warm up also gives you a better opportunity to smell the coffee as it reaches a temperature where it’s nice and warm.
Overall, the stove top offers some of the best control over the temperature your coffee reaches. This is especially true if you remain attentive to the coffee while it’s heating. The microwave uses a fast, brutal approach by getting very hot, very fast, which differs from the stovetop.
Heating coffee with the steam wand
This is primarily for those with an espresso machine, though some do have steam wands in their kitchen. The steam wand on your espresso machine uses heat and water to create steam. Since the steam wand is designed to heat up milk or water for making cafe drinks, it’s also perfectly capable of heating up your coffee quickly.
Another perk of a steam wand is that it can help recreate the original foamy texture of your drink, or create a new foam.
- Put your remaining coffee in a cup or the carafe that the espresso machine came in.
- Place the steam wand in the coffee
- Turn on the steam wand. Most espresso machines only have one setting.
- The espresso machine or wand might take a few seconds to get ready, as it’s attempting to heat up water enough to produce steam.
- You will more than likely hear the steam wand working with a loud, continuous hissing sound.
- You’ll be able to tell how hot your drink is getting by touching the outside of the cup.
- Turn off the steam wand. Some are automatic, but don’t count on it.
One tip here: Steam wands actually heat coffee pretty quickly, usually in less than a minute. Consider using a less dense mug or cup to heat up. You’ll be able to feel the heat faster.
While the steam wand isn’t powerful enough to really overheat your coffee to the point where it tastes burned, it’s worth noting to conserve time and water. The coffee inside the cup can be hotter than you expect if you are measuring the heat through the cup itself.
Will I notice the difference between microwave, stove, and steam wand?
You’ll notice the difference between the microwave and all else for sure. Microwave coffee loses it’s flavor. The stove and steam wand have the potential to save your flavor.
The steam wand is also somewhat helpful to rejuvenate your latte or cafe mocha. These drinks are usuall made with a steam wand initially so you can achieve the same texture – smooth and creamy, if you do it right.
The difference is especially worth it for a coffee connoisseur. Owners of espresso machines are especially likely to notice the difference, especially if they have spent time trying to pull the right show.
You might have learned a bit more about coffee today! Many people do not know that the balance in coffee’s flavoring comes with natural acids. These acids are further released when reheated, creating that weird bitter, metallic taste.
So go ahead and try both your stovetop, and if you have one, the espresso wand. Your taste buds will appreciate your effort into recreating the fresh coffee experience.
If all else fails, brew a fresh cup or pot. You’ll probably need more anyway.
Tiffany McCauley is a celebrated food and travel journalist and cookbook author known for her engaging stories on culinary adventures and cultural insights. With a background featuring collaborations with notable brands and publications, Tiffany brings a wealth of experience and a fresh perspective to Fanatically Food, where she champions taste, sustainability, and the art of cooking. Read More Here