Warming Up to the Idea: The Pros & Cons of Reheating Coffee

“I got busy” so my hot coffee on my desk cooled. Reheating coffee largely hinges on personal preference, but there are several factors concerning flavor, health, and convenience that are worth considering.

On the positive side, reheating coffee is a convenient choice, especially when pressed for time. It’s a quick solution to enjoy a warm cup without the wait of brewing a fresh pot, especially if working and time is short between meetings. Moreover, reheating coffee can contribute to reducing waste. Instead of discarding cold coffee, giving it a quick reheat can be a more sustainable choice. This is also a cost-efficient option as it’s more economical to reheat coffee than to brew a new batch.

Or course, there are downsides to this practice. One drawback is the negative impact on flavor. Coffee is known for its vibrant and robust flavor when fresh, but its flavor compounds begin to break down over time. Reheating coffee can expedite this degradation, leading to a bitter or stale taste. The acidity of coffee can also change as it cools and reheats, which might not appeal to some palates.

Healthwise, while not a significant issue, reheating coffee can result in a slight loss of antioxidants which are beneficial for health. Not a reason to drink coffee, but that is a feature of coffee lost. As meetings go long, if coffee has been left out for an extended period, it is worth mentioning that repeatedly reheating it might lead to the growth of certain bacteria which could be harmful.

There’s also a concern about possible chemical leaching if you’re reheating coffee in a plastic container instead of a ceramic mug. Especially if the plastic is not marked as microwave-safe, chemicals from the plastic could leach into the coffee during the reheating process.

As for the methods to reheat coffee, there are a few options. Using a microwave is a common method. Simply pour the coffee into a microwave-safe mug and heat it in 30-second intervals, stirring in between until it reaches your desired temperature. Alternatively, you can use the stovetop by pouring the coffee into a pot and heating it over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until it’s hot. It’s crucial not to bring it to a boil as that will degrade the flavor further. If you have an electric kettle with temperature control, that’s another viable option. This method is less likely to result in overheated or burnt coffee compared to the microwave or stovetop but can take more time than you have and is getting close to the time it takes to make a new pot.

Reheating coffee is a practical solution to save on time and reduce waste, the key is to do so gently to minimize flavor loss. Some coffee connoisseurs might advise against reheating coffee to preserve its flavor. They might suggest brewing a fresh pot or exploring other coffee warming options like thermal coffee carafes or a smart warm mug like an Ember as better alternatives.

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Coffee Beyond the Cup: Unconventional Uses of Coffee Beans

Coffee, a beverage that is consumed and loved by millions worldwide, is made from coffee beans. These beans, which are actually the seeds of the Coffea plant, have been cultivated for centuries and are grown in over 70 countries worldwide. While most people are familiar with coffee beans in the context of making a delicious brew, these versatile seeds have a myriad of uses that extend beyond the coffee cup.

Coffee beans can be used in various forms, including whole beans, ground coffee, and used coffee grounds. Each of these forms has its own unique properties and uses, from beauty treatments to household applications and even gardening. The physical properties of coffee, such as its coarse texture and strong aroma, along with its chemical components, including acids and antioxidants, make it an excellent ingredient for numerous applications.

The use of coffee beans in these alternative ways not only provides benefits in terms of their effectiveness, but it’s also a great way to reduce waste. Many of these uses utilize used coffee grounds that would otherwise be thrown away, making them an eco-friendly choice. This versatility, combined with coffee’s widespread availability, makes coffee beans a surprisingly valuable resource for a variety of uses beyond their traditional role in beverage production.

Exfoliant: Combine coffee grounds with a carrier oil (like coconut or olive oil) and a bit of sugar to make a simple, natural exfoliating scrub. Rub this mixture gently onto your skin in a circular motion, then rinse off. The coffee grounds help to remove dead skin cells, the sugar provides additional exfoliation, and the oil moisturizes your skin.

Odor Absorber: Coffee beans and grounds are excellent at absorbing and neutralizing odors. You can place a small, open container of coffee in your fridge, bathroom, or other areas that might harbor unwanted smells. For stronger odors, consider using used coffee grounds, which are more porous and can absorb more odor.

Compost: Used coffee grounds are rich in nitrogen, making them a valuable addition to compost piles. The grounds will decompose along with other compost materials, eventually turning into nutrient-rich soil that can help plants grow.

Natural Dye: Brew a strong pot of coffee, then let it cool. Soak fabric or paper in the coffee to stain it a light brown color. This can be used to give items an aged, vintage look. Small areas, the full piece of paper or fabric, or I like to use things around the house to strain shapes.

Gardening: Some plants, like roses and blueberries, thrive in acidic soil. Sprinkle used coffee grounds around the base of these plants to help lower the soil pH. Coffee grounds also add organic material to the soil, improving its structure and fertility.

Pest Repellent: Coffee grounds can deter pests like ants, slugs, and snails. Sprinkle the grounds around areas where you’ve seen these pests to keep them at bay. Just be sure not to overdo it, as too much coffee can be harmful to some plants.

Crafts and Decorations: Whole coffee beans can be used in various crafts. For example, you can make a coffee bean candle by filling a glass jar with coffee beans and placing a small, unscented candle in the middle. The heat from the candle will warm the beans and release a pleasant coffee aroma.

Homemade Coffee Oil: To make coffee oil, soak whole coffee beans in a carrier oil like olive or almond oil for a few weeks. The resulting oil can be used in homemade cosmetics, or applied directly to the skin for its supposed anti-aging benefits.

Furniture Scratch Fixer: For scratches on dark wood furniture, mix a small amount of instant coffee with just enough water to form a thick paste. Apply this paste to the scratch and let it dry. The coffee can help darken the scratch, making it less noticeable. This works best on darker woods and may not be effective on lighter-colored woods.

Remember, always test a small, hidden area first when using coffee in new ways, especially when applying it to fabrics, wood, or skin.

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Plant Power in Your Coffee: Milk Alternatives to Buy or Make

These are non-dairy beverages made from a variety of plant foods including nuts, seeds, legumes, and cereals. Some of the most popular plant-based milks include almond milk, soy milk, rice milk, oat milk, and coconut milk. These alternatives have grown in popularity for a variety of reasons, including dietary restrictions, allergies, lactose intolerance, veganism, and environmental sustainability concerns.

These milk alternatives can be purchased pre-made at most grocery stores, and many coffee shops now offer them as an option for their beverages. They are also used in cooking and baking as a substitute for dairy milk.

Making plant-based milk at home is also possible and quite straightforward for many types. For example, to make almond milk, you would soak almonds in water overnight, then blend the mixture and strain it to remove the solids. Homemade plant-based milk allows you to control the ingredients and avoid preservatives and additives often found in store-bought versions.

As for popularity, plant-based milk alternatives have seen significant growth in recent years. For instance, in the United States, sales of oat milk alone surged by over 300% in 2020, making it the second most popular plant-based milk after almond milk. Consumers are increasingly choosing these alternatives for their health benefits, environmental footprint, and dietary needs.

When it comes to storage, plant-based milks do have some differences from traditional cow’s milk. Many store-bought plant-based milks are shelf-stable until opened, meaning they can be stored at room temperature unopened but should be refrigerated after opening. However, they generally have a longer refrigerator shelf life than dairy milk. Homemade plant-based milks typically last about 3-5 days in the fridge and should be shaken before use as separation can occur.

It’s important to always check the best before date on store-bought plant-based milk and to smell and taste it before use if it’s been in your fridge for a while. Discard it if it smells or tastes off. As with any food product, the key to safe consumption is proper storage and attention to freshness.

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