Ironically, as I begin this article, I am drinking a rapidly-cooling mug of coffee with a grimace. I'll take it if I'm desperate, but for many people, hot coffee in the morning is a necessity, not an option.
In fact, your attachment to keeping your coffee warm isn't just a luxury, an indulgence, or a guilty pleasure; according to a Yale study, warm beverages can help people perceive others as warmhearted or even be more generous themselves.
After all, coffee is more than just caffeine. It is our daily cup of happiness, routine, and sanity. Yet, how can you keep your coffee warm without electricity?
Coffee Temperature and History
OK, before we look at actual methods, let's note that the temperature of one's coffee is not a new concern. People have been drinking coffee for centuries, and the temperature has always been an important element.
As Marita Ervin noted for the University of Puget Sound, in the sixteenth century, coffee drinkers in Istanbul realized that coffee temperature was essential--so much so that consideration of temperature contributed to the establishment of spaces devoted to the serving and consumption of coffee. In other words, the temperature of coffee played a role in the establishment of the modern coffee shop.
Later, as Ryoko Iwata explains, in his adorable and fascinating book, Coffee Gives Me Superpowers, coffee drinkers used to pour their beverage onto a saucer first (the small, indented plate that a coffee cup sits on top of). This was in the 1700s.
So why did 18th-century coffee drinkers use saucers? They wanted to ensure the coffee was cool enough to drink. Instead of attempting to pour the coffee back into the mug (I've tried this--it does not work), they would drink the cooled coffee straight from the saucer.
Interestingly enough, in that same book, the author notes that the ideal time for an energy boost is around two in the afternoon--another reason to keep your coffee nice and hot!
This is all very well, you might say, but the average person probably has neither the resources of a coffee house (even a sixteenth-century one) nor a proper saucer (do those even exist anymore?).
How can the average person keep their coffee warm without resorting to the dubious technique of reheating in the microwave? Whether you like your coffee routine traditional or innovative, there is an electricity-free method to keep your coffee warm.
Keeping Coffee Warm: for the Traditionalist
If you like to keep things simple, these traditional ways of keeping coffee warm might be for you. These methods are also relatively inexpensive, so they are budget-friendly. Or if you're like me and you detest any activity that involves thinking in the a.m., you'll be happy to hear these methods are easy to implement.
Most of us probably have a travel mug stashed somewhere in the back of our cupboards, but a "travel mug" doesn't necessarily mean something that will keep your coffee warm. If you're taking your coffee to go, investing in a high-quality thermos might be your best bet.
Not only will do thermoses keep your beverages warmer longer, but they also come in a variety of sizes, so you can find the perfect fit for your morning commute. Home grounds has a great list here of the latest and greatest thermoses on the market.
The Mug Cozy
Mug cozies, or mug sleeves, are a time-honored way of keeping beverages warm. You can use any cloth around the house in a pinch--scarves, socks, etc--but I find it's nice to invest in at least one proper mug cozy.
Not only do they keep your coffee warm, but they also come in super cute designs like this one to make your morning coffee aesthetic that much more soothing. If you are especially crafty or you've been looking for a DIY project, you can also try crafting one yourself. Mug cozies also come in different sizes, so you can find one for all your favorite mugs, from the giant 20 ounces one to the tiny hand-crafted one.
Preheating the Mug
If you are reading this article because you need your coffee warm today, right now, then preheating your coffee mug is the simplest and easiest way to do so. Here's the thing about mugs, especially porcelain ones: they absorb the heat from your coffee, which then causes your coffee to cool down at a faster rate.
If you preheat your mug, you can prevent this. How? Bring some water to a boil on the stove, pour it into your mug, and let it sit for a few minutes. When you pour your coffee in, the mug will have already absorbed the heat from the water and won't steal any warmth from your coffee.
Keeping Coffee Warm: for the Adventurous
If you want to try some of the newer methods or you really want to invest in hot coffee, these innovative products might be your best bet. Products like these have been featured on many different prominent websites and television programs, so there are lots of reviews for the smart consumer to browse. Furthermore, these products are the result of research and study.
Science + coffee = awesome coffee squared.
Metal Coffee Beans
Yes, you did read that correctly. Metal coffee beans like these ones use the same principle as preheating the mug. They absorb excess heat from your coffee, then naturally let that heat back into the beverage to keep it warm--a simple concept and even simpler execution. And, of course, the coffee bean shape helps the aesthetic.
I must admit, I like giving myself the most convenient lifestyle I can, especially in the morning. Smart mugs are a great choice for anyone who likes to let their devices do the work.
Like many smart devices, smart mugs are battery-powered, can usually be connected to your phones, and have user control settings that let you personalize your coffee temperature. These mugs cost more money, but by all accounts, they're worth the investment.