How do you chill hot coffee without adding ice? A lot is said about how fast brewed coffee loses its aroma and flavors and the need to consume only freshly brewed coffee.
The reality, however, is that quite a large number of people prefer to brew coffee in carafes and drink it over a period of time.
This necessitates refrigerating coffee to drink it later. Normal practice is to cool hot drinks to room temperature and then refrigerate them.
But can you put hot coffee in the fridge?
Yes, there is no harm in putting hot coffee in the fridge but you may want to use a suitable container to hasten the chilling process. Be sure to give enough space between the hot coffee and the other foods in the fridge to avoid heating them up and potentially spoiling them.
How to Refrigerate Hot Coffee Correctly
If you choose to refrigerate hot coffee then you want to do it the right way to achieve the following objectives:
- Chill the coffee as fast as possible
- Reduce the chances of compromising the flavor of the drink
- Cause no damage to the food items in the fridge
- Cause no damage to the fridge
- Cause no damage to the container that is used to refrigerate hot coffee
To avoid these pitfalls, ensure the following safeguards when refrigerating hot coffee
1. Use a Suitable Container when Putting Hot Coffee in the Fridge
Use a container that transfers heat fast so that the coffee loses heat rapidly in the fridge. The container should also be inert so that it does not transfer chemicals and flavors to the coffee.
Coffee contains volatile compounds that easily react with other odors. So, the container should have a tight-fitting lid to prevent fridge odors from reaching the coffee.
A steel container with a tight lid would be an excellent choice. Avoid using insulated containers such as thermal carafes and travel mugs as they will insulate the coffee.
Ceramic containers are also not suitable for chilling hot coffee fast in the fridge due to their insulating properties.
Provide enough distance between the hot coffee and the other items in the fridge. Items such as dairy products are likely to spoil due to the heat that is transferred from the hot coffee if there is no distance between them.
3. Back of the Fridge
To further enhance cooling, place the hot coffee towards the back of the fridge where the temperature is cooler. Later, you may transfer the chilled coffee to a fridge rack for bottles or to the front of the fridge.
Unless it was not your plan to refrigerate the coffee when it’s still hot and you are doing it as an emergency, you may want to precool the coffee. Here are four ways to precool hot coffee before putting it in the fridge:
- Cooling in a large container. Pour the hot coffee into a large container and let it cool for a few minutes before putting it in the fridge.
- Use a frozen or chilled metallic container. Freeze or chill a metallic container beforehand and then add the hot drink. Metallic containers including enamel mugs are suitable for this method as they are resistant to thermal shocks from adding hot coffee to a frozen mug. The best option would be to put the storage container in the freezer for some time and then add hot coffee and put the container with coffee back in the fridge.
- Ice or water bath. Add some ice cubes or cold water to a large bowl and place the metallic container with hot coffee in the bowl. Avoid using glass mugs and carafes as they are likely to shatter due to thermal change
- Dip long stainless steel spoons in the coffee. Dip two or three stainless steel spoons in the hot coffee and let them stick out for a few minutes. The spoons will transfer heat from the coffee to the air.
- Pouring between two containers. This is an old method that involves pouring a hot drink from one container to another and repeating until the drink is cooled. You can use two cups, one in each hand to cool a single cup of coffee or use one cup to “fetch and drop” coffee from a container with a wide mouth
5. Portion Large Amounts of Coffee into Smaller Amounts
According to the USDA, large amounts of hot foods should be divided into smaller portions before putting them in the fridge. Avoid refrigerating a full carafe in one container and instead portion the coffee into containers of 1-2 cups per container. You may consolidate the coffee later when it is chilled.
Bear in mind that putting large amounts of hot coffee in the fridge can temporarily raise the temperature in the refrigerator which can cause some food items to spoil.
Why Do People Refrigerate Hot Coffee?
There are three reasons why people would want to put hot coffee in the fridge:
- To chill the drink without adding ice. Some people prefer to brew hot coffee and then drink it cold without adding ice.
- You have hot coffee but you can not drink it due to an emergency. Imagine brewing a cup of hot Java and then being called to an emergency where bringing the coffee with you is not an option. You opt to put the hot coffee in the fridge to keep it fresh and drink it later.
- You have brewed several cups of coffee in your drip coffee maker and you do not want to leave it cooling on its own
Hot coffee can safely go in the fridge but you may want to use a metallic container to fasten cooling. Cover the container to prevent the coffee from absorbing the odors in the fridge.
Precooling hot coffee before refrigeration will hasten the chilling process. Ensure enough space between the coffee and the items in the fridge to avoid spoiling them due to heat transfer.