Why You Shouldn't Leave Drip Coffee On The Heating Element Too Long

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Your morning cuppa joe is a sacred institution. We get it. That steaming little mug is all that stands between "cozy morning" you and "I hope this email finds you well" you. As such, that lovin' mug-full deserves to arrive in the highest quality possible — which is why we're deep-diving into one particular java pitfall that plagues countless unwitting coffee lovers on the daily: burning your coffee by leaving it on the hot plate too long.

Allow us to set the scene: You make a large pot in your drip coffee machine because you're going to be coming back for more later. In the meantime, while you savor that first cup and read the paper or get started on work, that brewed pot is still crankin' on the hot plate. More than keeping it warm, prolonged exposure to the heating element makes a finished pot of coffee burn. 

Sure, it won't be tepid by the time you come back for a refill, but leaving that pot exposed to heat for any more than 30 minutes will scald it. This is a particular tragedy if you've just sprung for a bag of artisanal beans, in which the nuanced, idiosyncratic flavor notes are the star of the show. "So long," complex, dimensional profile. Once the coffee scalds, the coveted flavor of these little beauties will be lost completely.

If your coffee tastes burnt, that's because it is

For the record, your coffee machine's hot plate isn't a great tool for preventing temperature loss in the first place. Hot plates work by cycling the appliance's power on and off, which means the temperature fluctuates heavily. Don't expect it to get the job done, especially during colder months when your kitchen is chilly. The solution? Just make smaller pots of coffee. 

You can always go back for more later, and you can be sure that by the time you do, your coffee will be in tip-top quality. Or, alternatively, you can make your usual larger batch and just remove it from the hot plate once it's finished brewing, transferring it to the countertop and reheating it when you're ready to drink it. Still, microwaved coffee isn't exactly a surefire way to guarantee knockout flavor. If you must resurrect a cold cup, we recommend reheating your coffee on the stove to keep it as palatable as possible. And, when quality really counts, smaller batches are the way to go.

For diehard coffee fans, it might be worth it to invest in a good carafe or thermos. This growler by Stanley can hold a full eight cups of coffee and comes outfitted with a handle if you want to take it on the go. Or, this stainless steel thermal carafe by Cresimo holds 68 ounces and has a delicate spout for easy, pleasant pouring to keep your coffee ritual lovely. Transfer your freshly brewed pot to one of these bad boys and it'll stay toasty for hours as you go about your morning.