For many of us, a hot cup of coffee in the morning is a must if we’re going to make it through the day. That energy boost is necessary to get going, and a hot, yummy brew never disappoints—until it gets cold.
Sometimes, I get too focused on my daily to-do list and forget about my coffee. When I suddenly remember it’s there and take a swig of the cold version, I make a nasty face and then head straight for the microwave.
However, reheating coffee in the microwave isn’t a good idea. Here’s why we should stop doing it.
Cold Spots Aren’t Just Annoying, They Can Be Dangerous
Microwaves are infamous for their inability to heat food evenly. This is because a microwave heats food and beverages from the outside in. This causes cold spots, which can actually be harmful to your health.
These cold spots allow harmful bacteria to survive, disguised by the warmer spots around them. When reheating food in a microwave, it’s best to use a food thermometer to test several places. You want to make sure all of your food is at a safe temperature. Not doing so could have serious consequences.
Unfortunately, you can’t use a thermometer to find cold spots in your coffee. Typically, salmonella and other bacterial infections from coffee are rare. Most coffee is brewed fresh with very hot water and consumed right away. However, there are other types of coffee drinks that can put you at risk.
The Problem With Cold Brews, Milk, And Creamers
Plain black coffee is just as safe to drink when it’s been sitting out for a few hours as it is when it’s fresh from the pot. Cold, black coffee might be icky, but it won’t damage your immune system. The same can’t be said when you add milk or creamer to your coffee or if you prefer a cold brew.
The US Dairy Association points out that milk and other dairy products shouldn’t be out of the refrigerator for more than two hours to prevent bacteria growth. It shouldn’t be out of the fridge for more than an hour in the summertime.
That means that reheating coffee with milk in the microwave is more dangerous than you thought. The dairy sitting in your mug for houses can foster bacteria growth, and the microwave won’t heat your coffee evenly enough to destroy all of it.
Cold brew is made by steeping coffee overnight at room temperature or in the fridge. The water isn’t boiled, and it sits at room temperature for hours. This, too, can attract disease-causing bacteria. It’s possible that making a cold brew and heating it in the microwave will result in you exposing yourself to tons of bacteria.
Seniors Are More At Risk
Adults over the age of 65 are more susceptible to foodborne illness. The bodies of older adults have a harder time eliminating bacteria and harmful germs. And since we produce less stomach acid the older we get, certain bacteria may not die in the stomach when you are over 65.
Nearly half of all adults 65 and older end up in the hospital when they contract a foodborne illness like salmonella or E. coli.
Genius Ways To Keep You Coffee Hotter, Longer
Luckily for us, there are a number of helpful tools and gadgets on the market to help keep a fresh cup of joe at an enjoyable, safe temperature for longer. Check out our top picks.
1. Invest In A Smart Mug
Welcome to the future! For the longest and most precise temperature control, a smart mug like this highly-rated option from Ember is the way to go.
The magic in this mug is the ability to set the precise temperature you wish to hold your beverage (anywhere between 120°F and 145°F). Using the mug solo, enjoy up to 80 minutes of temperature control, and with the included charging coaster, enjoy it all day long!
Plus, once the mug is empty or has been inactive for over two hours, it will automatically go into sleep mode for added convenience and safety.
2. Use A Mug Warmer
While not as precise, using a mug warmer is still an effective solution for keeping your coffee or tea warmer, longer.
We’re a fan of this quality option from VOBAGA which offers a number of styles and finishes to match any decor. The simple touch controls allow for three temperature settings, while a 4-hour auto shutoff provides added peace of mind.
3. Add A Mug Cover
A cover for your mug might sound a bit silly, but these nifty little lids can really do wonders. Not only do they help to lock in heat, but they help to keep unwanted items out, making them the perfect companion if you enjoy sipping your morning coffee outside.
Plus, these adorable silicone covers create an air-tight seal, helping to prevent spills whether in the car or on the way back to your desk.
4. Use An Insulated Mug With A Lid
YETI has earned their stripes for excellent insulated products, and their 14 ounce stainless steel mug is no exception. As a new mother on the Suggest team noted, this mug is a lifesaver for busy mornings when enjoying your coffee fresh just isn’t an option.
The double-wall vacuum-insulated body keeps the heat in, provided a dry, cool-to-the-touch exterior. As an added bonus, the signature MagSlider lid is compatible with other YETI ramblers.
No matter which option you choose, just remember to be careful when reheating your coffee. And, if possible, avoid the urge to zap your cup of joe in the microwave.