Should you put your coffee pot in the microwave?

Sometimes you get distracted from your morning cup of joe. While you’re away, the heating plate clicks off, and when you return to the kitchen all ready to drink your coffee, it’s cold and icky.

You know you’re going to drink more than one cup of coffee, so can you just put the whole coffee pot in the microwave?

Reheating coffee can be a little bit trickier than you might expect.

Can you put a coffee pot in the microwave?

Find out what your coffee pot is made of

As you (hopefully) are well aware, you cannot put metal in a microwave oven. This goes for any metal: spoons, foil, you name it. Even if your coffee pot has only small metal parts— even ones that you cannot see—you’ll have a crisis on your hands if you try to microwave it.

Check for metal components

Most of the time, you can see all of the parts of the coffee pot with your naked eye. Check for any metal, or any place metal could be hiding. Look at the lid especially to make sure the hinges that attach it don’t have any metal parts.

Man's hand lifting a coffee pot from a coffee maker
Check for hidden metal hinges on your coffee pot, because it take much to spark a fire in your microwave oven.

Look for a “microwave safe” label

Most of the time, the reassuring “microwave safe” message will be embossed on the bottom of the container along with indications about dishwasher safety. Even if your coffee pot doesn’t say microwave safe, there may be a symbol indicating that it is, typically a rudimentary drawing of a microwave with squiggly lines.

Read the owner’s manual

If you don’t see any symbols or writing on the pot, you can check the owner’s manual. Don’t have the manual anymore? No sweat, owner’s manuals for most coffee makers can be found online. Just search for your make and model.

What if you accidentally microwave a pot that’s not microwave safe?

The result will depend on why the pot wasn’t safe to put in the microwave. If it contains metal, you’ll probably see sparks that could cause a fire. If it isn’t metal that’s the problem, you’re in less danger of an emergency, but the pot could break, warp, melt, or become ruined.

If your pot is not microwave safe or if you’re unsure, we recommend reheating cups of coffee one at a time in microwave safe cups.

Is microwaving coffee bad for you?

The general consensus is that microwaved coffee is not bad for you, but it isn’t going to taste as good as freshly brewed coffee. As coffee sits, the acidity increases and the aromatics are destroyed, so it will likely have a more bitter taste. Reheating only exacerbates the problem. A microwaved cup of leftover coffee will have few of the appealing aromatics left.

Some die-hard detractors fear using microwaves in general, believing that they expose food, drinks, and the people nearby to too much radiation. However, the vast majority of studies refute this belief.

While it might not be bad for you, there’s still one more burning question regarding microwaving coffee: Does microwaving coffee reduce caffeine? After all, if you’re considering sticking that pot of coffee in the microwave, you’re probably desperate for a fix.

According to science, the answer is no. There are some people who report that their coffee is less potent after being microwaved, but this is anecdotal and doesn’t jibe with the science.

Finally, a word of caution: Microwave your coffee with care. You could end up with a super-hot cup that might burn your mouth, because microwaves are designed to transfer tons of heat and can raise the temperature quickly.

Other methods of reheating coffee

Glass tumbler full of coffee and ice
You can always embrace the cold and enjoy a nice iced coffee.

Coffee aficionados prefer a few other methods over the microwave to deal with cold coffee, including:

  • Stovetop: Empty the contents of your coffee pot into a saucepan and gradually heat coffee over a low temperature.
  • Drink it over ice: Don’t try to reheat it at all. Accept that the hot coffee is done and enjoy it at a cold temperature.
  • Make fresh coffee: As much as we hate to see good batches go to waste, if you’re worried about taste, this is really the only way to go about it.

Whether or not you can microwave your coffee pot depends on what materials the pot is made from. If the pot is microwave safe, sticking it in there to reheat won’t reduce the caffeine but it will likely diminish whatever flavor compounds and aromatics are left.

Image at top: © Wonderlane | Creative Commons