What is the correct temperature for serving coffee?
Getting the right coffee temperature.
Can you tell me what is the proper temperature to serve coffee?
Coffee is best served at a temperature between 155ºF and 175ºF (70ºC to 80ºC). Most people prefer it towards the higher end, at about 175ºF.
Do you remember that lawsuit that MacDonalds lost when a customer scalded herself after she spilled some of her coffee?
Back then the MacDonalds manual for its employees stated that coffee should be served at "195 to 205 degrees and held at 180 to 190 degrees for optimal taste."
As they discovered when they lost the case, that was too hot.
You won’t go far wrong at 175ºF.
That said, there are some coffee experts who like to drink their coffee at much lower temperatures.
George Howell of George Howell Coffee, who has been sourcing and tasting specialty coffee since the 1970s, likes to drink his coffee at a temperature closer to 130ºF. To you and me that would feel like tepid coffee. But according to him, it’s at that temperature that many of the more subtle flavors of coffee are revealed.
What he says makes sense, because if you think about coffee that is really hot, almost hot enough to burn your tongue, you really don’t taste much at all.
So there is a sliding scale here. At the hotter end of the scale, at about 175ºF, we feel the satisfaction of drinking a nice hot cup of coffee. At the lower end of the scale, at 150ºF and below, we get less of that “hot cup of Joe” experience, but are able to taste some of the more subtle flavors of the coffee.
One approach to the serving temperature of coffee could go like this: For your regular cup of coffee, go for 175ºF, but if you buy some really good coffee beans and want to really taste the coffee and discover all of its flavor notes and qualities, serve it at 150ºF or lower.
Of course, if you choose the second option, then you also need to pay close attention to how you grind the beans and brew the coffee. There is no point in buying great beans and serving the coffee at a lower temperature unless you also take the trouble to brew the coffee well.
Here is some further reading on how to grind and brew a great cup of coffee…
Burr or Blade? The fact is, a burr coffee grinder is better.
Is your drip brewer is even CAPABLE of making good coffee?