Why Does Reheated Coffee Taste Bad?

The answer has nothing to do with the microwave and everything to do with the volatility of aromas and chemicals in coffee.

Coffee is all about science. The drink has over 1,000 aroma compounds, plus a complex profile of proteins and acids.

Several studies point out that the intensity of the ‘roasty-sulfur O=OPy’ odor of coffee plays a key role in how it tastes. The scent decreases rapidly after initial brewing as it loses those aromatics to evaporation, resulting in a loss of taste.

Also, some of the different compounds in coffee fall out of solution as it cools. Proteins tend to sink to the bottom, while oils float to the top, leaving a skim of oil on top of old coffee. The acidity also increases, and the taste becomes more sour.

Essentially, the flavor profile breaks apart and can’t be put back together again— just like Humpty Dumpty.

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