A question of the ages for every coffee consumer, “how to keep the coffee hot?” Be it the first cup of the day to the day's supply, this can be a daunting task. It is, however, one with many solutions.
You grab that first piping hot cup of your favorite brew either at home or the drive-through or, perhaps, the office break room. Setting your coffee firmly in the console or on the desk and settle into your seat to start your day. It's a good feeling...until!
That first sip you've been waiting for, anxious for even, is now lukewarm at best and the aroma is gone. Not the coffee experience you had in mind?
So, what is one to do? How does one “keep the coffee hot”? Be it the first cup or the day's supply, we have a few tried and true suggestions.
Let us begin with that first cup. The cup is the key. First off we'll consider the “no tech to low-tech” methods to avoid.
Styrofoam cup over paper is obvious. However, this is not an environmentally friendly option and becoming a rare choice and should be avoided (if not for principle, then only for ego and image).
If outside like a ball game one can always wrap your scarf around your coffee or hold between your knees, but as many have experienced, this too often results in a painful and wasteful disaster.
Candle Warmer / Heater
Another option we sometimes hear of is a candle warmer. Often using a scented candle in a ceramic or glass base and placing your cup on top. However, this idea is not only impractical, but it is also potentially dangerous, as is an open flame. In addition, it scorches the coffee making it bitter (more on that later).
A low-tech method many dads used in the shop is that of the Immersion Heater. Again, however, these can be dangerous and lead to burns or marks on the table. Not to mention showing one’s age, this method brings with it too many questions and should be avoided especially around children.
There are those that use the traditional “hot plate” method at their own peril. This method can lead to cracking a mug and even an electrical short. Also, while perhaps successful in heating the coffee, it also heats the handle of the mug...ouch!
Microwave and Heating Pad
And of course, there is the microwave...OUCH! This method can also burn the coffee and leave a bad taste in your mouth.
Last but not least on the low-tech side, we have heard of the good ole heating pad. This method is best left to for warming one's own bottom than that of a coffee mug and is not even really effective. That said, heating pads are useful in wrapping around a thermal carafe mentioned later in this article.
As for the diehard ceramic “my favorite mug” users (and there are many of you out there)...
Make sure the mug is warm first. Run it under hot water or a quick zap in a microwave (not too long, though. Heed the warning above.). If in the car try in the sun of the dashboard, but just to warm the mug for obvious reasons.
Use a coffee Mug Cozy. Like a can wrap to keep cold, mug wraps are handy to keep the coffee hot. Cozies are quite effective in adding an extra lining of insulation and can give a personal touch. They also prevent that burn on the fingers.
The Mug Warmer is a personal favorite for the office. Like a mini hot plate, it keeps your coffee hot from start to finish. It is also available with a car adapter as well.
Another “cool and nifty” novelty for the diehard coffee mug user is that of metal coffee beans or Coffee Joulies that can be purchased at many finer coffee houses. These are placed in your cup and absorb the heat keeping your coffee hot and fresh longer.
And don’t forget the obvious and simplest and quite effective, really. “Put a lid on it”. Just a coaster anything convenient. It keeps the heat in and the unwanted things out. And it does work.
A word about conventional coffee cups. There are four types that come to mind. Ceramic, glass, china and the dreadful plastic. Simply put, ceramic retains heat much better than glass or fine china (much less likely to break as well.). As for plastic? Well, any coffee deserves better. In addition, when heated, cheap plastic cups give off a number of chemicals known to be harmful to one’s health.
Alternatives to “my favorite mug”. We suggest the following:
If buying coffee in a paper cup, we suggest pouring it into your own preferred container. Or getting a Car Warmer which plugs right into the dash.
Then there is the Travel Mug which conveniently plugs directly into the dash or by USB while at your desk in the office allowing you to take your coffee anywhere.
On the low-tech yet effective way to keep the coffee hot longer is, of course, the Thermal Cup. Perhaps the most common method our advice is simply, “you get what you pay for” so invest the money and spend wisely. A quality Thermal coffee cup should run around $10 and up. Less and you will probably just have a plastic cup with no insulation. Your coffee deserves better.
While many varieties exist here, it can not be over said, “you get what you pay for”. Many can be had for very little or even for free as promotion gimmicks. But, what’s more important? The logo on the side or keeping the coffee inside hot?
As for “the day's supply”, some suggestions would be first don't leave it in the pot one coffee brewer. This results in evaporation and condensing the coffee making it bitter and even scorched if left too long. It can even lead to a cracked or broken pot if you forget to turn it off.
Thermal Tumbler / Thermal Carafe
The Thermal Tumbler. Like the thermal mug mentioned above, “you get what you pay for” so invest your hard earned money wisely. A quality thermal tumbler can run $25 or more, but, will keep your favorite coffee fresh and hot throughout the day. (A WORD OF WARNING: Though rare anymore, avoid at all cost glass lined tumblers. Still available in lower cost versions, these tumblers can fall over and shatter ruining both the tumbler and the precious coffee brew inside and pose a serious threat of injury.)
Like the tumbler, the Thermal Carafe can be had for around $30 and up for a quality item. Excellent choice for both the home or office for a hot, fresh cup anytime throughout the day.
And last but not least, what we like to call “the pump action shotgun” of keeping the coffee hot, the Airpot. Like the thermal tumbler and carafe, these provide for a piping hot and fresh cup of your favorite coffee all day long and hold enough for the whole crowd should you choose to share. They have the convenience of a carrying handle AND these jewels pump a perfect amount coffee every time. Warning here though. These can have a tendency to wander off at outdoor gatherings.
What to Look for in a Coffee Maker
We will not go into much detail on Coffee Makers as there are so many varieties out there it boggles the mind. That said, however, some details should be mentioned. Coffee makers can be had on any given day for $10 in any department store and even given away for free in several promotions seen around.
While some are worth having for convenience, most do not hold up to the demands of the avid coffee consumer’s needs either burn the coffee or burn up themselves in a short amount of time. When you consider the price of a pound of your favorite coffee, shouldn’t more thought and expense be put into the coffee maker you brew it in?
Things to look for in a coffee maker overall are first it’s...
All in all, keeping the coffee hot simply takes...
Remember, a good cup of coffee is precious at any temperature. Though most desire such fresh and hot, especially that first cup of the day, coffee is a godsend. Treat it well and don't complain.
In closing, let us consider the coffee itself. As much as keeping the coffee hot, making the best coffee is even more important. After all, if the coffee is bad, it's not worth keeping it hot. Let’s ask a few questions.
Can you burn coffee?
Absolutely, yes. However, this may or may not be because of one’s brewing practices and my be due to any number of the following reasons.
The coffee beans themselves. Just as individuals make mistakes in brewing, coffee beans are at times let to roast a little too long can burn the beans. This results in a bitter taste that one may blame themselves for having done. Don’t beat yourself up over it.
The coffee maker itself may be the culprit as well. This is where investment comes in to play. Coffee makers come in every shape and size and cost level. As previously mentioned, you get what you pay for. Higher end coffee makers heating coils for heating the water to the warmer plate that keeps the coffee hot are well regulated. This maintains the best temperature for brewing (more on that in a moment). That said, lower end coffee makers may heat too hot or even not enough.
Last but not least and not so commonly know is...don’t use boiling water. Yes, coffee is made with hot water, however, boiling water poured directly over the grounds will result in scalding the coffee and leave a bitter taste on the tongue. If one is using this method, remove the water just as the kettle starts to rumble or let the water sit for a few minutes after boiling to bring the temperature down.
All in all, to keep the coffee hot longer is not a matter of making the water hotter as some tend to think. After all, bad hot burnt and bitter coffee is just that...bad coffee.
The temperature needed to brew that perfect cup or pot of coffee is between 91 C (195 F) to 96 C (205 F) with 96 C (205 F) being optimal for the fullness of flavor and body. But this is for the brewing. Coffee drinking temperatures vary and range from 52 C (125 F) all the way up to 88 C (190 F), however, remember that it can cause severe burns around 82 C (180 F).
Coffee gets us up in the morning and off to a good start. It fuels our day and often provides for a nice nightcap. It is at the center of our social engagements and even first encounters. “Let's have coffee” may be the most common invitation among friends and couples around the world. Coffee fuels the world and is central to the nation’s economies. Coffee makes the world go round.
That said, brew it well and “keep the coffee hot”.