What is the Ideal Temperature for Coffee?

When attempting to create the perfect cup of coffee, many factors come into play: coffee beans, grind size, brew method, and coffee-to-water ratio, to name a few. Another detail to consider is the ideal temperature for serving coffee. 

The ideal temperature for drinking coffee is around 120 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. When brewing coffee, the water temperature should be between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit.

While the temperature for brewing coffee doesn’t differ from person to person (as we’ll discuss later), serving temperature is a personal preference. Let’s dig a bit deeper into why we recommend drinking your coffee at 120-140 degrees. 

Ideal Temperature for Serving Coffee

The best temperature to drink your coffee differs from person to person, but we consider the perfect temp to be somewhere between 120 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. The reason is that coffee at these temperatures allows the most flavor to be tasted without burning your mouth. It’s the sweet spot.

If it is hotter than this, the coffee’s flavors is often lost to its heat of it. The taste receptors on our tongues cannot recognize the flavors and coffee notes when the temperature is too high, making that cup of coffee taste fairly bland. 

Even so, some people prefer it scolding hot, and who are we to judge? Whether they like how it warms them up or enjoy sipping it for a couple of hours, everyone has their reasons for how hot they prefer their coffee. 

The bottom line is if you want to truly appreciate some quality beans you purchased and be able to taste all the flavor it offers, consider drinking it between the 120 and 140 degree range. 

If you request a drink from a local coffee shop to be extra hot, they will generally prepare you a coffee well above 140 degrees. It will likely be somewhere around 170-175 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Interesting Facts:

Along with researching how hot to serve coffee, I came across the following interesting facts about coffee temperature.

  • Starbucks’ resource manual instructs their baristas to serve hot drinks between 150 and 170 degrees. 
  • McDonalds was sued in 1994 for serving coffee that was too hot at 180 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  • Keurig claims when brewing coffee into an insulated mug, the temperature typically gets to 180 degrees. 

Ideal Water Temperature to Brew Coffee 

The ideal water temperature to brew coffee is more specific and doesn’t necessarily change regarding personal preference. When brewing a smooth cup of coffee that is neither over nor under-extracted, the water temperature should be between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Water temperature is crucial during the brewing process as it affects the extraction rate. 

Extraction is the process of pulling the flavor out of the coffee bean through hot water. When hot water is combined with coffee grounds, a chemical reaction dissolves the flavor compounds. It’s essential to learn exactly how long your coffee grounds need to be extracted to avoid unwanted flavors.

Hotter water leads to a faster extraction of the coffee’s compounds including, oils, acids, and caffeine. While lower temperature water leads to a slower extraction rate and possible under-extraction.

What Happens if the Water is Above 205 Degrees?

If the water you brew with is over 205 degrees, it will cause the coffee grounds to extract too much. 

Over-extracted coffee can make your cup taste bitter, burnt, or metallic. Remember, with how much water a typical cup of coffee is comprised of, no cream, sugar, or milk will mask the awful bitter flavor.

If this occurs, your only option is to dump it and start over. To avoid wasting coffee and your time, allow the water to cool down a bit before brewing.

Other reasons why you should refrain from brewing coffee with boiling water are listed in the graphic below. Click here to read more on why you shouldn’t brew with boiling water.

List of reasons why you shouldn't brew coffee with boiling water. 
1. ruins the flavor
2. burn the coffee
3. you can get burned
4. takes too long to cool to drink
Boiling Water

What Happens if the Water is Cooler Than 195 Degrees?

If you were to brew coffee with water cooler than 195 degrees Fahrenheit, you would end up with an under-extracted cup of coffee. This occurs when the coffee grounds are not given enough time to brew completely, or the water you are brewing with needs to be hotter. 

As a result, not all of the beans’ oils, sugars, and wonderful flavors get a chance to be extracted and are still left in the grounds. Under-extracted coffee can leave you with undesirable tastes, including soursalty, and soapytasting coffee. 

How to Control the Temperature of the Water and Coffee?

Much like you would check your meat’s temperature, you can check your water or coffee temperature with a liquid thermometer. These are inexpensive and effective ways of measuring the temperature of your brewing water or the coffee itself. 

If your kitchen lacks a thermometer, you’re not entirely out of luck. A good rule of thumb is to boil the water and then let it sit for 30-45 seconds. This will allow it time to cool just enough. Now, you can use it to brew your coffee.

If you want to get fancy, there are electric kettles with built-in temperature control. This Gooseneck Kettle is on my short list of coffee gadgets to buy. 

Does Roast Level Impact Water Temperature When Brewing?

Depending on the roast level of your coffee, you may want to adjust a little with the water temperature. If using a darker roast, use water at a lower temperature of the range. This will help avoid over-extraction and bitterness.

If you’re using a lighter roast, use water at the higher end of the range to speed up the rate of extraction.

To read more about the different roast levels, click the link.

Does the Water Temperature Change For Different Brewing Methods?

Regardless of your brewing method, whether it be a French Press, Espresso machine, or drip coffee maker, the perfect coffee brewing temperature is still going to be 195 to 205 degrees F.

The only exception to this is going to be with a cold brew. To learn how a cold brew is made, click here.

Final Thoughts

Coffee and water temperature have a significant impact on how your coffee tastes. While brewing at a specific temperature between 195 and 205 degrees is standard, drinking temperature can change from person to person.

We recommend drinking coffee somewhere between 120 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit for the best flavor. One last tip before we end: Try not to reheat your cup of coffee once it cools. This will change the profile and taste of the coffee.

How to Know if Your Coffee is Under or Over-Extracted?

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