Think Twice Before Asking For A Reheated Espresso At A Coffee Shop

Hand holding a latte in a mug
Hand holding a latte in a mug - Artistgndphotography/Getty Images

The thing about reheating espresso drinks is that you kind of can't. At least, maybe you could. At home. With a microwave. The thing is, chances are your barista doesn't have a microwave. If there's any kind of "reheating" appliance behind the coffee counter at your favorite local cafe, it's likely a toaster oven for warming up the baked goods in the display case. Even if you get wicked lucky and there's a microwave back there after all unless you're drinking out of a ceramic mug, that paper cup is liable to catch on fire during the one-minute tenure it'll take to adequately reheat your drink.

"What about the steam wand?" you might ask. It's true that the steam wand is what warms espresso beverages during their initial crafting -- it's the part of the espresso machine that aerates and heats the milk in the pitcher. Alas, espresso beverages are typically mostly milk, and dairy is a fickle ingredient. Microfoam breaks down within just a few minutes, and milk can really only be steamed once before becoming, well, sort of gross. That initial steam turns the milk frothy, lighter, and puffier, and a second steam will either scald it, curdle it, make it fall flat, or over-dilute it with additional water and turn your latte into a thin mess.

Read more: 26 Coffee Hacks You Need To Know For A Better Cup

Just Get A New Drink And Start Fresh

Barista crafting a drink
Barista crafting a drink - Alvarez/Getty Images

Reheating espresso also destroys the more nuanced flavor notes that the roaster worked so hard to preserve and emphasize in those beans. It's the same with drip coffee -- the beans' natural oils start to go bad after the coffee has sat out for four hours. Even if you reheat it slowly over low heat, warmed-up coffee is going to taste and smell like warmed-up coffee.

News flash: When you post up at a coffee shop for a prolonged period of time nursing the same drink, it's going to cool down. If you're planning on getting some online work done, making some headway on that book you've been reading, or enjoying a long catchup with a friend, be proactive and order a drink that can be reheated. Drip coffee can be topped off with a warm pour, and you can always add more hot water to a cup of tea.

If your espresso beverage becomes cold to a point where you're no longer interested in drinking it, your best bet is to order a fresh drink (and leave another tip). The one exception to this rule is maybe a black Americano. This dairy-free espresso beverage could be warmed up with a little hot water, or perhaps even a quick spin under the steam wand. Just keep in mind that any sort of reheating is going to compromise the quality of the drink a little, but if you're fine with it, full steam ahead (pun intended).

Read the original article on Tasting Table.