Luckily I don’t live in a place that requires me to get in a car in order for me to wait for someone else to make my coffee for me. Living in New York City there is a preposterous number of Starbucks and next to them are numerous smaller chain coffee shops and then a handful of elitist non-chain coffee shops (that I am usually too intimidated to go into but that’s a whole other issue.)
And let’s not forget the hundreds of delis, bodegas, coffee carts, and restaurants that also serve this bean beverage. In the words of Liz Lemon when her dilettante ex-boyfriend Dennis asks her “One word: coffee. One problem: where do you get it?” she replies, “Anywhere! You get it anywhere!” And she is right.
However, when the coronavirus hit New York and they started coming for the coffee shops I started to panic. Starbucks held on as long as it could but eventually, most of them closed temporarily to figure out their next move. It wasn’t so much that I lived in the epicenter of a global pandemic that stressed me but more that I was going to have to figure out how to make my own coffee…in my own home…like a peasant.
Did I have to ground the beans? Where did one even get beans? Oh right, the grocery store. Could I pour it in a cardboard cup? No, that’s why you have all those decorative mugs. But who would write an interpretive spelling of my name on the mug? There were so many questions.
And, as many New Yorkers and other city dwellers felt, the daily coffee routine was the last semblance of normalcy we were all desperately grasping to hold onto. Walking around with a giant cup of coffee and sunglasses on as I walked to a crowded subway and then had to perform the classic balancing act of holding said-cup while looking at my phone is the minutiae of my old life that I so dearly miss. The stuff you never thought about having to miss.
When I knew it was only a matter of time before I wouldn’t be able to waddle across the street to get my coffee, I started stalking up. I won’t lie. At one point I was running my own mini-Starbucks out of my kitchen as I had about 10 venti cups of the Pike Place Roast to get me through the week. I would just microwave it every day I decided. That way I could at least feel like I was going to Starbucks every day even if I wasn’t.
But how bad is it to microwave day or even 2-day old coffee? It can’t be that bad for you, right? Well, let’s get into it.
First of all, if you are planning on drinking old coffee definitely put it in the refrigerator, especially if it has milk in it. If you left it out for hours and then try microwaving it and drinking it, that could be a big mistake. According to Millennial Barista you are playing “diarrhea-roulette” if you make that move.
Basically, if you are willing to drink slightly stale coffee you just have to accept it is going to taste a bit different than a freshly brewed pot. See even when a fresh cup of coffee has been sitting for a few minutes it starts to lose its flavor. And then when you microwave it, that will deteriorate the aroma which is what really makes a cup of coffee that thing we love so dearly. The aroma is the true taste of the coffee. The longer the coffee stays out the staler it gets because the hydrogen and oxygen levels of the coffee are rising.
But as for making you sick, you are probably in the clear unless you left it out for more than four hours and it had dairy products in it already. This is why after drinking microwaved coffee for a full week I felt fine and perfectly caffeinated.
And though some coffee shops remained open throughout the pandemic, I decided I would be proactive and buy a coffee maker and start making it myself (which according to some people would literally save me millions of dollars.) However by the time my coffee maker came Starbucks had reopened for mobile orders so it was back to the coffee shops for that freshly brewed cup.