There’s nothing quite like a hot cup of coffee on a cold winter morning. But we all know that there’s a fine line between a cup of Joe that’s too hot to drink, one that’s flat and cold, and one that’s just right!
You might think that the temperature of your coffee doesn’t matter much, but it actually makes a huge difference in terms of taste and extraction.
So what’s the ideal coffee temperature for brewing? The standardized temperature for brewing coffee is 195°F – 205°F, Although this can vary depending on the brewing method used. Brewing temperatures that are too low will result in flat and under-extracted brews, while brewing temperatures that are too high will result in over-extracted, low-quality brews.
So, while brewing temperature is important, it’s only half of the picture when it comes to the overall question of coffee temperature. The other half of the picture is the actual temperature you will be drinking the coffee.
So what’s the ideal coffee temperature for drinking? The ideal temperature for drinking coffee is between 120°F – 140°F. When drinking at this temperature our taste buds can pick up the subtle flavors produced by the brew. When drinking above this temperature the heat makes it difficult for our taste buds to detect flavors and drinking below this temperature drastically brings out unwanted flavors.
Ok, so as you might have guessed, there’s a lot more to coffee temperature than what we could pack into the short answers above.
In this blog post, we’ll explore:
- What water temperature is ideal for your preferred brewing method
- How different temperatures affect the taste of coffee
- How to find the perfect temperature for your cup of joe
Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
How Does Brew Temperature Affect Extraction?
The water temperature that you use when brewing coffee affects the extraction process in a couple of different ways.
Extraction is the process of pulling water-soluble compounds from the coffee beans to make coffee, and those compounds will pull from the bean much more easily with hot water.
So what does that mean? Basically, the hotter the water, the faster the coffee will extract. And the faster your coffee extracts, the more of those compounds end up in your coffee, which can lead to a much stronger cup, but may also be more bitter.
If the water is too cold, it will not extract the coffee properly and the coffee will be weak and somewhat acidic.
If the water is too hot, it will extract the coffee too quickly and the coffee will be bitter. So it’s ideal to find a happy medium that works well with the brewing method you’re using, as well as the grind size of the beans and type of coffee you’re brewing.
Does Every Brew Method Need The Same Extraction Temperature?
Okay, so if the water temperature affects the taste of your coffee when it’s brewed, then all you have to do is find the ideal temperature.
So is there one ideal water temperature that extracts all coffee perfectly? Well, the short answer is no. But there’s more to it than that.
Not all coffee is created equal, and the ideal water temperature will depend heavily on the kind of brewing method you’re using. But why is that?
Each brewing method works best with a certain roast level and grind size. Plus, there’s the steeping time of each brewing method to consider.
Check out this table below to determine the right water temperature for your favorite coffee brewing method:
|Coffee Brewing Method||Ideal Extraction Temperature|
|Cold Brew||41-86˚ F|
|Eva Solo||200˚ F|
|French Press||195˚ F|
|Moka Pot||195-205˚ F|
|Pour Over||200˚ F|
|Turkish Coffee||150-160˚ F|
|Vacuum/Siphon Brewer||195˚ F|
We have also included an info-graphic below that shows the same data but in a more visual way:
Is There a "Best" Temperature for Extraction?
For most coffee brewing methods, you’ll want to keep your water at about 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit.
This is a good general rule of thumb, and will serve you well for most coffee brewing methods. But of course, extraction temperatures vary depending on the kind of brewing method you use, as well as the grind size of your coffee grounds.
You would never make cold brew with fine ground coffee, and you’d never make Turkish coffee with coarse ground beans.
So, the grind size used in each brewing method needs a different water temperature for ideal extraction.
The finer the grounds, the faster the extraction—and the more likely it is that you’ll over-extract your coffee if your water is too hot.
So really, the “best” water temperature for your coffee will depend on the kind of coffee you’re making, as well as the beans you’re using.
You can check out our easy to follow guide here that shares all you need to know about the coffee grind sizes needed for all the different coffee brewing methods.
In fact, one study shows that the brewing temperature had little impact on the taste of drip-brewed coffee and that the water temperature should only be one of many variables to consider. So don’t worry about it too much!
What’s the Best Way to Control Extraction Temperature?
While the amount of control you have over the extraction process will heavily depend on the kind of brewer you’re using, being mindful of the water temperature is one of the best ways to ensure perfect extraction.
If you have an automatic drip coffee maker or single-serve coffee capsule, there’s likely very little you can do to control the water temperature being used, and you may want to consider going for a manual coffee brewing method so that you can heat your coffee to your desired temperature.
Also, it’s important to know exactly what temperature your water is if you want complete control over your coffee extraction.
An electric kettle with a built-in thermometer is a useful tool so you always know what your water temperature is. You can also use a food thermometer if you heat your water on the stove.
Does Drinking Temperature Matter To The Taste?
It might be surprising, but the temperature that you drink your coffee at absolutely affects the taste profile of the coffee.
Hotter temperatures give the coffee a milder taste, while lower temperatures will create a sharper, more bitter flavor.
Part of this has to do with our taste buds and how we detect flavors. Coffee that is too hot might taste blander, milder, or more muddled than you’re used to because your taste buds can’t pick up the nuances of the coffee flavors at that temperature.
But at a lower temperature, you may pick up on an exceedingly bitter taste.
The trick is to find a drinking temperature (note: this is different from brewing temperature) that is right in the middle, so you not only keep yourself safe from burns but are able to pick up on all the flavor your coffee has to offer.
What’s The Best Temperature For Drinking Coffee?
There’s a big difference between the ideal temperature for coffee extraction and the temperature you actually want to drink it at.
For one, drinking a liquid that’s heated to over 160 degrees Fahrenheit can cause burns, and is dangerous if you spill it on yourself. Drinking beverages below about 120 degrees is fine, but it simply doesn’t taste as good.
This study determined two things: one, there should be a clear distinction between the brewing temperature and a safe and enjoyable drinking temperature, and two, that restaurants and coffee shops should serve their coffee between 130 and 160 degrees to create a balance between safety and enjoyability.
Here’s a bit more of a breakdown of the differences between serving temperatures:
Drinking Above 150°F:
At over 150 degrees Fahrenheit, your coffee may be piping hot and feel good in your hands, but it may be worth it to wait a few minutes before you indulge.
For one, drinks at that high temperature cause a burn risk if you’re not careful.
And there’s not only the danger of burns to worry about. As far as taste goes, anything above 150 degrees will likely not be as enjoyable, either.
Unfortunately, at this temperature the flavor profiles may become a bit muddled, and it will be difficult for coffee connoisseurs to work out the nuance of the coffee flavor.
Drinking between 120°F and 140°F
This temperature range is considered the “sweet spot” for most coffee drinkers. It’s hot enough that you can enjoy the warming sensation of the beverage, but not hot enough that it will cause scalds and burns.
And in fact, this study showed that the ideal temperature to drink hot beverages was right around 140 degrees Fahrenheit, give or take about 15 degrees.
We tend to enjoy this range in temperatures because it’s cool enough that we can sip our coffee without worrying about blowing on it or burning our tongues, but the taste of the coffee is also affected.
Our taste buds can’t pick up on the bitterness of coffee as well when it’s hotter, so the coffee seems to taste more mellow and smooth.
If you tend to leave a cup of coffee on your desk, you may want to invest in a mug warmer with temperature control, so you can keep your coffee right in the sweet spot.
Drinking Below 120°F:
Once your coffee reaches below 120 degrees, you’ll likely find that it’s a bit too cool to enjoy, and that the flavor of the coffee has changed dramatically.
One reason for this is that as the coffee cools down, our taste buds are better able to pick up the bitterness in the coffee; so a cup of coffee that was a particularly dark roast or slightly over-extracted might taste fine when it’s piping hot, but you’ll notice a significant change in the taste once it cools.
You certainly can still drink coffee after it’s reached below 120 degrees. Black coffee can sit as long as 24 hours and still be all right to drink, if you can stand the taste. But if you added milk or creamer, then it’s best to throw it out after a couple hours.
Here’s an info-graphic that shares the best coffee temperature to drink your favorite cup of Joe…
Ways To Cool Down Coffee?
We all love a fresh, piping-hot cup of coffee, but it’s always possible to go a little overboard.
If your coffee is just too hot for comfort and you need to cool it down quickly, try these steps:
- When you brew your coffee, refrain from preheating your mug, and instead pour the coffee in a cool-to-room temperature mug. Just be careful; some materials, like glass, don’t do well under sudden changes in heat.
- If the coffee is very strong and you’re okay with watering it down just a touch, then simply drop a few ice cubes in. After the ice has melted, your coffee should have cooled down enough to comfortably drink it.
- Take two coffee mugs, and pour the coffee back and forth between each mug two or three times. The coffee will have been exposed to the air and the cool mugs, helping to bring the temperature down.
- Adding cold milk, creamer, or coffee syrup helps to bring down the coffee temperature to a tolerable level, while providing some extra flavor!
- If all else fails, you can wait a few minutes before beginning to drink your coffee, stirring it a few times to get it exposed to the air a bit more.