When you’re whipping up a pot of coffee, the temperature needs to be just right so that you get maximum enjoyment out of every sip. After all, the serving temperature of your cup of coffee affects the flavor, bitterness and ultimately, the overall flavor profile of your beverage. Too hot and you run the risk of burns – too cold and it tastes rancid and rotten. Striking the perfect balance is an essential part of being an avid coffee consumer.
With that said, let’s explore a few of the finer points about the right temperature to serve coffee and why the right amount of heat matters.
How Hot Should Coffee Be?
When it comes to the temperature of your coffee, some people like it piping hot while others prefer a more moderate level that’s easier to sip. Ultimately, the choice is yours, but there are a few guidelines you should consider to determine which temperature is right for you. First, with almost every type of hot brewing method, your water needs to reach a temperature of boiling or near-boiling at around 200°F to 215°F. When you pull coffee from the machine, know that you’re dealing with a liquid that will burn the mouth if not allowed to cool properly.
You’re likely familiar with the notorious 1992 legal case of Stella Liebeck suing McDonald’s after she spilled a hot cup of takeout coffee on herself. She ended up winning her case after the prosecution showed that the restaurant chain’s operations manual required franchisees to brew coffee at temperatures up to 190°F. They proved that at this temperature, liquid can cause severe burns in just a few seconds, and she was awarded three million dollars. Since it’s been proven in a court of law, we suggest sticking with a heat level under 190°F, but again, that will depend on your tolerance. It’s been shown that serving beverages at higher temperatures increases sweet and bitter flavor notes, while lower temperatures increase the sour and salt tastes. Go too high or too low and you’ll lose your ability to control these flavor profiles.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the characteristics of common heat levels.
Casual sipper: Piping hot
The standard serving temperature across the restaurant industry is generally between 180°F and 185°F, although that’s as high as you should go without expecting your mouth to burn. But, since coffee is generally sipped slowly, the heat eventually comes down and falls into a nice range of 155°F to 175°F. Higher temperatures tend to stifle your ability to enjoy the subtle notes of coffee. So at this point, you’re experiencing the heat of the beverage more than the roast flavors, but still receiving a certain warmth that’s perfect for cold mornings and blustery days.
Drink without worry: Moderate heat
At this point, coffee’s temperature becomes moderate enough that you can take large swigs without destroying your taste buds. Most people consider coffee under 155°F to be the most enjoyable. It’s the level at which the coffee flavor shines through, while still supplying a soothing warmth. In fact, a study showed that coffee served at 136°F scored the highest among drinkers in both a reduction in burns and an improvement in customer satisfaction.
Time for the drain: Coffee that’s too cold
When coffee dips below 120°F, it’s time to dump it out and brew up a fresh batch. Coffee that gets too cold contains a noticeably strong presence of bitterness. That’s because excess oxygen exposure causes flavor molecules to deteriorate and mold to grow.
What’s The Best Temperature To Serve Coffee?
In most cases, the best temperature to serve coffee is about 150°F for the right mix of heat and flavor. For those that prefer extra heat, temperatures up to 180°F allow you to sip slowly and still receive a comforting warmth.
Now that you know how hot coffee should be, you’re one step closer to becoming a brewmaster. Remember to avoid coffee that’s hotter than 185°F and colder than 120°F and you should be safe from burns, while still experiencing its welcoming aromas. And, no matter how hot you take your coffee, you can improve the entire experience by using a high-quality bean.
High-quality coffee beans made for pilots
Are you searching for a coffee bean of the highest caliber? Try Inflight Fuel today and enjoy a flavorful, approachable caffeinated drink, sourced from tropical island climates. With three different roasts, our beans are versatile, and ready to be brewed at any temperature. No matter where life takes you, a bag of Inflight Coffee is sure to help you keep up – remember to always keep fresh beans in your cupboard and you’ll be ready for your next adventure.