You have a coffee in hand. Only one problem standing between you and your caffeine fix - it's just too hot! We've all been there. You hold it up to your mouth and before it even touches your lips, you can already tell it's at a scorching temperature.
So, what do you do?
How do you get that perfectly brewed cup of coffee to quickly cool down so you can start enjoying it?
The most practical ways to cool coffee to a comfortable enough temperature to drink are to add ice cubes (water or frozen coffee cubes), to blow on it, to put it in the fridge, or add cold milk or creamer. The best method for you will depend on what you have access to.
Let's explore further into these methods, how to effectively do them, as well as the pros and cons to each.
Fastest and Most Practical Ways to Cool Your Coffee
Coffee is best brewed at around 200°F. If you're making it at home in a coffee machine like a Keurig, or even buying it from your local coffee shop, that's the temperature it's going to be. It's great to extract all the flavors from the beans but unfortunately, it's too hot for most to drink. The widely recommended comfortable drinking temperature is between 120-140°F. So, the big question is... what methods can we use to cool it that extra 70 degrees, quickly?
Here are five of the most helpful ways:
1. Brew it strong, then add water and ice
Introducing more water can easily dilute your cup of coffee. That's why, with this method, we want to brew it strong so that it's still enjoyable. If you go to Starbucks, ask for an ice cube in your coffee. They might look at you strange but they'll still do it.
Fun tip: If it's a hot day and you're feeling like an iced coffee, wait for it to cool down then add some more ice cubes, put it in a mason jar and you got yourself lovely cold drink to cool you down.
If you want to make iced coffee that's not watered down, check out the video I did on how to do this with a Keurig!
2. Use iced coffee cubes
Now, this one takes some preparation but works great!
Here's how you do it. Brew up some coffee beforehand, let it cool down, then add it to some ice cube trays. Wait a couple of hours for them to freeze. Add 1-3 cubes to your next brew you want to cool down quick.
What's great about this is that coffee ice cubes won't dilute your brew. Here in this photo, I've made some flavored coffee and frozen it in my fancy ice cube trays. I add it to my coffee not only to cool it down but to also add a little hazelnutty flavoring to it. It's a win-win!
Interesting fact, in a phenomenon known as the Mpemba effect, hot water will freeze faster than lukewarm water. I have no idea if it applies to coffee too but if it holds true, if you want your coffee cubes sooner rather than later, then direct from brew to freezer might be the answer. Just make sure your ice cube tray is heat-proof and that you don't put any "must stay frozen at all times" items near the hot tray as if can heat up the entire freezer.
3. Blow on it
Next up is the ultra-simple method of blowing on your coffee. It's so simple some people might question...
Does blowing on coffee cool it down?
Yes, it does. Blowing on coffee for three to four minutes can turn a very hot coffee to one that is drinkable. According to testing, it's more effective than stirring, lifting it with a spoon, or leaving it alone.
The Higgsino Physics channel made an excellent YouTube video testing out four different methods to cool down coffee. In their testing, the best method was also the least exciting: blowing on it. The official explanation? When you blow on the coffee, you're blowing away hot air molecules and humid air, and replacing it with dryer and colder air.
If you're interested to know more about the physics behind it, watch the video - it's very well done!
4. Put it in the fridge
This one only works if you're making it at home (unless you're in a RV in which case, can I join?). Some people question though...
Can I put hot coffee in the fridge right away?
Yes, you can safely put a hot glass or pot of coffee into the fridge right away. This is assuming there aren't flaws in the glass. Use caution though, repeating the process too often can weaken and eventually crack the glass.
If you have access to one, putting it in the fridge is a much more passive way to cool it down than blowing on it for three minutes. Toss in some cubes of ice for some extra fast results. Note though, while it's ok to do with a pot from your coffee maker, depending on the volume of liquid in the pot, this might cool much slower than an individual glass of coffee.
5. Add cold milk or creamer.
Our last hack is also simple. Add in cows' milk or the more popular these days, almond milk. Adding in a cold substance to the hot coffee will dilute it and help accelerate the cooling process.
6. Divide and conquer (this one's a no-brainer)
If you tend to brew large batches, pouring out your ration into a smaller vessel immediately will start the cooling process sooner. It will take much longer for the entire pot to cool versus a small mug.
What is THE fastest way to cool down a hot drink?
The ultimate fastest way to cool down a hot drink is to add liquid nitrogen. The only downfall is, most of us don't have access to that, the health concerns, and, well, it freezes it.
Assuming we actually want to drink it, a combination of adding ice cubes, putting it in the fridge (or a cool place), and blowing on it will give you the fastest results.
If you can't do all three, then try two. Either way, you're going to get a cooler drink much faster than just letting it sit on the counter.
The best method is really the one you have access to.
If you're on the road and can't blow on or add ice cubes to your coffee pick-up along the way, then ask for an extra shot of cream. Be creative and you'll get to enjoy that cup of joe sooner than you thought.
Do you really need it cool right away?
Alternative 1: Use a travel mug
If your goal is to make ahead so that you can enjoy later, consider putting your coffee in a travel mug so that you can keep it warmer for longer and enjoy it over hours. Take a look at the vacuum-insulated stainless-steel travel mug on Amazon that has over 70,000 reviews!
Alternative 2: Use cold brew or iced coffee
If you're often finding yourself with coffee that's too hot, try experimenting with cold brew coffee or iced coffee. If you're interested, I recently did a post of the best coffee grounds to use for cold brew.
What's your favorite way to cool down coffee quickly? Did I inspire you to try one of the methods above? If so, please comment below and let me know how it worked out for you!