How To Drink Hot Coffee

As a born and raised New Englander and notoriously gay person, I’ve been drinking iced coffees in all seasons for as long as I can remember. But paying for them, like paying for many other groceries, has never felt this painful. At my favorite coffee spot, Hi-Note in Manhattan’s East Village, a cold brew sets me back $5 before tip. My daily visits are leading me toward a very caffeinated bankruptcy. (I don’t brew coffee at home because I’m a little fancy man, and getting a treat first thing in the morning is the best way to trick myself into having a good day.) So lately, in August’s 90° heat, I’ve found myself ordering hot coffee instead.

At coffee shops across the country, prices for cold brew are hovering around $5 a pop. At Bloom and Plume, a popular coffee shop in Los Angeles’s Silverlake neighborhood, cold brew runs $5.25. The Chicago-based brand Intelligentsia’s cold brew costs $5.50 (it was $3.75 in 2015). Even Starbucks’ house cold brew, a personal bottom-of-the-barrel pick for its weird faux-sweet taste, now runs $5.65 for a grande after many price increases over the years. At Blue Bottle its signature New Orleans-style iced coffee is $6.75. If you’d like to add an alternative milk or flavored syrup to any of these, you could be looking at an upcharge of a dollar or more. Then, after tax and tip (a controversial but necessary step!) you’re often closer to $7 or even $8. God help you if you order an iced latte.

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One humble item on the menu remains relatively affordable—no, it’s not “aesthetic”; no, it hasn’t been deemed “queer”; no, it is not associated with any vibes that could even be generously termed “low-key goated,” as the youth like to describe cold brew. I’m talking about regular hot coffee—she’s been there all along.

Beautiful, dependable drip coffee tends to be priced around $3, give or take a dollar. At the independent coffee shop Brioso in Columbus, it’s $2.50. At the indie shop Passion House in Chicago, $3. In Manhattan, Starbucks prices a blonde roast at $3.65 (prices vary across the country, but not a lot).

A full mug of hot coffee takes a bit longer to drink and savor as you sip it at your desk—a large cold brew over ice demands frenzied, brainless sipping and a subsequent caffeine-induced anxiety rush. More perks: Hot coffee doesn’t require a straw as many cold brews do (turtles the world over are rejoicing); it doesn’t create a puddle of condensation wherever it sits; and no ice cubes are watering down your drink. A trusty thermos can keep it nice and hot.

I know, I know—hot coffee in warm weather sounds ridiculous. In the end-of-days heat waves we’ve been experiencing, a warm drink actually might help you cool off. Yes, way before I discovered the words hot coffee on a café chalkboard, cultures around the world already made a practice of drinking hot beverages in hot weather. Communities throughout Asia and the Middle East have long drunk teas and soups in the summer. Apparently, the drinks can stimulate your body’s heat response (sweating), allowing the body to cool off faster. If you, like me, are chronically sweaty, you might not even notice a bit of extra perspiration!

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You’ll notice I haven’t said anything about hot coffee tasting better than cold brew—that’s because it doesn’t. Cold brew is smoother, creamier, and often gives a richer expression of coffee flavor—though some coffee lovers may disagree. But for those of us who aren’t members of the Roy family, I’m simply suggesting it might be time to make the switch. Affordable, approachable, seductively steamy hot coffee is calling your name.