What is the correct temperature for serving coffee?

by Jake
(Tampa, FL)

Getting the serving temperature of your coffee just right.

Getting the serving temperature of your coffee just right.


Can you tell me what is the proper temperature to serve coffee? Thanks!


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.

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?

What is the correct water temperature for brewing coffee?

Comments for What is the correct temperature for serving coffee?

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If you can't drink it, it is no longer a "drink"
by: Simon

You should specify the type of coffee you're talking about. Italy, Australia, and New Zealand serve pretty much nothing but "espresso" coffee, usually latte or cappacino. You're lucky to find a good cafe in USA or UK serving espresso. You do NOT want to go over 60c or you will burn the milk. If you're drinking anything other than espresso coffee, who gives a crap you might as well just drink hot pond scum ;)

Too simplistic an article
by: Anonymous

There is actually some science behind the perception of coffee flavor and the relationship to serving temperature; however this article doesn't even begin to discuss the science. There are too many variables for a simple answer: type of coffee bean, brewing method, whether aroma or taste is more important to the cofee drinker, perception of acidity.

As a very general rule the hotter temperatures allow coffee aroma to be more enjoyed but at lower temperatures in the 90 degree F range the more subtle flavors can be distinguished. And cold brewing coffee can extract flavors that hot extraction for much shorter periods of time cannot achieve.

Love coffe
by: Anonymous

It's It's to everyone's taste how hot you drink your coffe, but in restaurants it sould be served at a lower temperature.I have see for mysef how hot coffee you give to a woman so hot it was taken the skin of her legs . So if restaurants make it to hot they open their self to being sued.

Not too hot!
by: Anonymous

To the person claiming it's too hot - please stick to whatever temperature you prefer to drink at. I enjoy my coffee very hot, and have no problem drinking it. Each to their own.

Too hot!
by: Anonymous

I defy anyone to actually drink (not sip) coffee that is 175 degrees Farenheit. My Dunnkin cup today was around 155 and even at that I could only sip, and it burned my tongue a little.

Wow, you guys REALLY care about how other people consume their beverages
by: Anonymous

Drink it how you want it. What's sacrilegious to you is meaningless to somebody else...it doesn't make you "right".

Coffee cools going into the cup
by: Max

I was shocked at how much the coffee actually cools off just by being poured out of the pot into the cup. After percolating, my pot settles into a "warm" mode at about 175 degrees. I thought that seemed crazy hot because I would never want to drink liquid at that temperature.

I poured it in a room-temperature mug and immediately put the thermometor probe in the cup It was about 152.

So the lesson is that your pot needs to keep the coffee a lot hotter than your drinking temperature because of all the heat losses you get by transferring it into a cup.

Piping hot drinks may lead to cancer of the esophagus
by: Anonymous

What are your thoughts on this article?


PossumBuck's Coffee
by: PossumBuck-Gary D. Antley

175-180F to serve would be okay. The consumer should enjoy the experience of the coffee which should include setting and visiting with folks while the coffee cools to a temperature the consumer pallets well. I enjoy coffee at a temperature where I can intake more that a sip to allow the flavors to saturate all the taste buds. Then roll the flavors about a time or two before swallowing the rich rich robust flavors.

PossumBuck's Coffee - "You don't have to pay a lot to be snooty!"

Serve hot let it cool before drinking.
by: Paul

When coffee is too hot you don't get the depth of flavors that showcase the bean. I find this is optimal around 120-140f. Now if you are drinking Dunkin Donuts or any other cheap coffee this wont matter. But a nice light roast from a specialty shop it will. Do yourself a favor and measure the temperature and see how the flavor changes with each 20 degree drop. You might be pleasantly surprised how much better it gets. Of course avoid adding any creamers or additives. Good roast from a specialty shop can be both fruity and sweet not needing anything else. Brew hot, let it rest and enjoy!

After I add Half and Half
by: Anonymous

After I add half and half my coffee is between 140 and 130...so is the mug, I preheat it.

175F? Too hot!
by: Anonymous

I can't understand why 175F is considered optimal temp. for drinking coffee. That would certainly burn my mouth! I put a thermometer under my tap to take readings for hand washing comfort. At 110F it was perfect, but at 120F, I would be burned in seconds! However, drinking at higher temps is different, as our mouths are able to sustain higher temps and be comfortable.
I then took a temp reading on my coffee after taking the one with the hot tap water. The coffee read close to 136F, which was perfect. I could most likely drink it and be okay if it were another ten degrees hotter, but anything hotter...is TOO hot!
The coffee had creamer added to it, which obviously cooled it down, but regardless, the 130F-140F range is perfect for me; not because of optimal flavor necessarily, but for comfort. Just my own personal opinion...

Right Temp ...Wrong Temp..
by: Anonymous

1: Any Beverage served too hot or too cold ruins the flavors that you can detect. Any drink or even cheese served around 65 to 68 degrees will have a better flavor profile as your tongue will not be burned off or frozen ..
2: The poster who declared the BREW and CLEAN modes were inadvertently set in the McDonald's case - needs to read the Case - you can look up it up in the Court Records.
The Truth is McDonald's had a required serving temperature of 195 to 205 degrees FAR TOO HOT to be drank and would cause 3rd degree burns very quickly - seconds. Beverages that are above 140 Degrees can cause scalding and burns - check out your water heater and anti scalding devices - you will find 140 is a pretty universal temp.

Too Hot
by: Scott

Anything over 150 degrees causes immediate burns to my lips, tongue and throat. My biggest pet peeve is that all coffee and hot water served in coffee and convenience stores is way too hot. I search out places that have ice available to bring the temperature down to a safe temperature. Yes, I believe that any beverage over 150 degrees is unsafe.

Coffee is carcinogenic at high temps
by: Anonymous

Not too much is known but high temperature drinks ( including coffee) are known to be somewhat carcinogenic. The cutoff temperature given in the source I read was 65 C which makes coffee carcinogenic it you drink it at optimal temperature.
Sorry, this ruined my day too, but maybe going down a little on the temperature will prevent our lives from being ruined.

WHO very hot beverages warning
by: Anonymous

WHO: Coffee itself isn’t cancerous, but watch out for ‘very hot’ beverages - The Washington Post http://ow.ly/qifC301rwlj

by: Anonymous

Just read that coffee above 175f or 70c 'probably' causes cancer of the oesophagus. Its actually any drink at high temperature, so the men in whites coats say.

Personally I'll still be drinking black 70c+ coffee.

I actually just completed a study myself. Wearing white lab coats and spouting nonsense causes blackening and swelling around the eyes.

light and hot
by: Anonymous

If you like your coffee hot and light it would seem you would have to brew your coffee much hotter because when you add the cream, it lowers the temperature considerably.

cofee will come to optimum temperature in what time
by: Gopi krishna

As per thermodynamics the highest temperature will come to room temperature is call optimum temperature
example If coffee is in 80 deg heat it come to normal temperature that is room temperature it takes time to achieve optimum temperature in 12 to 12.5 sec

Brew vs Clean
by: Threenotch

To the anonymous post that said the "truth" of the lawsuit against McDonakd's was an employee making a mistake. So, why was that employee transferred all over the country over the three years previous to the incident? In all there were more than 700 scaldings of people including small children prior to Ms. Liedle the 79 year old grandmother thst brought the suit. In each of those previous scaldings McDonald's acted in the same repugnant manner about the injuries suffered, even those of the children. The original lawsuit was for the medical expenses alone, nothing punitive. The total was approximately $20,000 McDonald's countered with an offer of $800. Once that happened her lawyer dug up the other incidents and convinced Ms.Liedle that McDonald's was acting irrisponsibly and creating a danger. They sued for a much lower amount than the jury actually granted her. Ms. Liedle died before receiving one cent of the money.

Not too hot please
by: Jim feces

I seem to like coffee on the lower end of the temp spectrum. If I get McDonald's, I will wait 15-20 mins before it is cool enough to drink. Also at the same time, I hate iced coffee. Hate very hot foods and coffee (so hot that layers on upper roof of mouth actually peel off and form blisters). I notice I like it "cooler" than most people. It depends on the individual I guess. They eat their own.
Thank you. Jim Frces

Coffee too hot
by: Anonymous

My parents drank their coffee much to hot for me. It would be close to the boiling point as they would drink it. They also had no taste buddies left as their tongues. I will not burn my tongue. I put an ice cube in McDonald coffee.

Coffee Serving Temperatures
by: W.Soetebier

Your recommendations for the serving temperature for coffee are much to high.

The Burn Foundation sites the following:

Hot Water Causes Third Degree Burns…
…in 1 second at 156º
…in 2 seconds at 149º
…in 5 seconds at 140º
…in 15 seconds at 133º

You might consider revising your recommendations

180 F
by: Loo

i agree with Koam, 180F is the perfect temperature when the coffee is handed to you.

McDonalds too hot
by: Bartholemule

I work nights, and drive about 25 miles home. Many times I stop and get decaf coffee, sometimes at Mcdonalds, to drink on the way home. I still occasionally get scalding hot coffee there. Since the cup is insulated, you cannot tell by the feel of the cup.Last week, it happened again. i had to wait until i was almost all the way home to drink the coffee. Tim Horton is always the right temperature, but it costs more, and there is always a long line at the drive thru.

Just wait a while.
by: Anonymous

Is it just me, or is everyone strange?
I bought a coffee pod machine for price and convenience, and it makes of coffee I enjoy.

But as for the temperature problem so many people seem to have, with their coffee too hot they burn themselves, I have an old trick learned many years ago...WAIT.

If the coffee is so hot, just wait a while, it will cool down.

The correct temperature for food to be eaten without burning yourself is about 55 degrees. but is something is so hot it burns, nature will cool it down, the exact same thing goes fore coffee.

perked coffee video?
by: Jack

I glad to see you tried perked coffee and liked it! could you please make a video on the best stove top percolators?

Jack L. Scudder, Jr

Get The McDonald's Story Straight
by: Anonymous

The person who quoted the McDonald's coffee scalding lawsuit story did not have their details correct, and neither does the majority of the public. The industrial size coffee machine McDonald's had at the time had two heating modes, "Brew" and "Clean", which is MUCH hotter- and an employee had accidentally put the machine on "Clean" mode, which heated the coffee to a dangerous temperature, burning the customer. THAT is why the customer won the lawsuit- negligence on the part of the McDonald's employee.

To hot coffee
by: Anonymous

I went to Dennys for breakfast asked for a cup of coffee the first cup was to strong tasted like it had been made way to long (truck driver coffee) so I asked for fresh coffee when I took a sip it burned my mouth so bad I couldn't swallow. I ask what the temperature was and they told me it was 200 degrees

comfortable, not scalding
by: Anonymous

I just checked the temp on the coffee I'm drinking right now which is perfect, drinkable but not cold, hot but not scalding my tongue. 150F-140F is just right. Your mileage may vary.

best temperatures in my experience
by: Anonymous

So I've been working as a barista for the last 3 years and have a love for coffee. Recently I convinced my parents to go out and buy a semi-auto espresso machine for home.

Since we've had it one massive argument has arisen, my dad likes his coffee lets say around 50*c and my mum likes hers much, much hotter. This morning she offered me a coffee, it looked and smelt amazing yet I couldn't hold my first sip for more than 5seconds without having to spit it out, it scalded my mouth and brought tears to my eyes, it was that hot.

Now I love tea, absolutely love tea, I always boil the water and apart from the 1-2mins brewing I can always start drinking straight away. The concept is similar for plunger coffee or drip filter, I suppose. For espresso coffee however a different rule applies. It is to be drinkable as soon as it is set in front of you.

As I have mentioned I have worked as a barista before, and I have received a lot of weird requests. I was always taught that the safe temp of steamed milk is 60*c it is the best temp for texturing and pouring well. You know that latte art-60*c.

If someone wants it cooler I'll make it around 50-55 if someone wants it extra hot it'll be closer to 65-70. Once a customer requested that I make her drink 85*c(185*f). At 75*c the base of the milk jug is unbearable to touch, at 80*c the milk starts to boil, at 85*c the milk will boil over onto your hands, which really really hurts. In any case by now the milk is burnt and will detract from the flavour.

My point is for espresso coffee 55-70*c is optimal. Any lower- whatever their loss, any higher-my loss of feeling in my hands

Coffee should be Hot, but not piping hot
by: Anonymous

Having coffee too hot will burn your mouth or tongue, but coffee served warm is very irritating.
Coffee should be hot in my opinion and most people would agree with this in my view.

Taste buds
by: Johan

Because must of us have a different amount of Taste buds, ranging from 2000 to 8000! We also have different sensitivity to heat because of that. Myself for example would not feel taste for a while after drinking a beverage at 70ºC, I even got a tough time at 60ºC and prefer it just under that. I can agree that the beverage sometimes depending on content should have reached a higher temperature before serving temperature to acquire the preferred taste.

What that high temperature is depends on what coffee it is, the serving temperature I myself will probably prefer 60ºC no matter type of coffee.

Everyone must test their way towards the perfect, what to keep in mind though is the studies; at what degrees could it be potentially dangerous? not only instantly but also in the long run, could your preferred temperature cause cancer?

If you are in the safe zone, enjoy your coffee; not too much of it but a few cups a day. Do not drink more coffee than you would drink alcohol, not even near.

"However, the number of taste buds varies widely. For example, per square centimetre on the tip of the tongue, some people may have only a few individual taste buds, whereas others may have more than one thousand" - http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/584034/taste-bud

steaming, but NOT hot
by: Anonymous

Often order coffee & its way too cool, yet people ay my table can't understand, saying "it 'steaming hot"
Please explain the temp for it to be steaming vs proper drinking temp

Proper temps for perfect coffee
by: CIA Chef

Coffe must come in contact with grounds at 200 degrees to taste good. Proper serving temp is 180. Your cup should be pre-warmed. If 180 degree coffee hits a cold cup it will drop to 160 or less depending on how cold the cup is.

Fun Fact
by: Anonymous

To the one guy who said he likes it very hot,
Think about this, in Tibet, at the the top of Mt Everest,water/coffee boils at 70 degrees Celcius. If you went there, you could go drink a cup of coffee at literally a rolling boil.

the temp I want it
by: Anonymous

I like to keep my taste buds. For some reason I can eat a pizza straight out of the oven, but I like my coffee at 145 degrees- no higher... I just stuck an instant read thermometer in mine with my morning coffee. If I drank 175 degree coffee, I would not be able to taste my meal! Ouch!( I can always cool mine down at the table, but you can't heat yours back up..)

my coffee was too hot
by: Anonymous

i just made a cup of coffee and took a sip... now my mouth hurts...so i became curious how hot is not too hot... so now i know from 150-175 which helps... better coffee next time. i like mine hot but drinkable not so hot where my mouth gets sore from the first drink and it hurts to drink more!!

Hot coffee, Americans, etc.
by: Anonymous

I am from Kona, Hawaii, and frankly the comments about HOT coffee are based on poor tasting coffee to start, in my opinion. I like it at the 155 degree level, but that is pure Kona coffee, not the hot dirt served at 99% of the establishments around the world. I assure all coffee lovers that 1 cup of Kona will change your mind forever about coffee.
I am also not suprised about the comments about "Americans" and our coffee. We just can't seem to do anything right, according to the rest of the world! ;)

I like it very hot
by: koam

I really like my coffee piping hot. I just measured a cup and 180 F is as low as I can go for a fresh cup. The reason for this is that I like it to remain hot to the end of the cup. And I take it black. If I were to add milk or half & half on occasion, I'd preheat the dairy before adding the coffee.

I'm going to continue measuring the temperature of coffee when it comes out of my drip brewer or out of the microwave when I reheat it. I also use a tabletop cup warmer to help keep the coffee hot to the last drop.

The temp of 180 F+ is probably hot enough to burn the flesh. It does leave a "heat memory" in my mouth but, at this point, it does not burn my mouth. Of course I don't gulp it at that hot temp. But if it gets much cooler, I'm likely to gulp it down before it gets too cool to enjoy or else I'd go reheat it.

I don't understand what the fuss is all about
by: Enowil

I was curious about what the best temp for drinking coffee is and ended up here. I totally don't understand, I guess because I'm not a regular coffee drinker, and my palate is perhaps, more sensitive to hot temperatures.I totally don't understand how someone could put something that hot in their mouth and like it. When I try to drink coffee I usually end up with a scalded tongue that hurts for days afterwards. But if that's what it takes for y'all to enjoy coffee, more power to ya.

don't have a clue about coffee?
by: Anonymous

Yeah, people don't actually know what they like. It's all a facade.

I like it hot!
by: Anonymous

I consistently have the same problem at ALL the coffee places in the USA: coffee is warm when it should be hot. I am from Argentina and we never have to say "extra hot", coffee is always hot there and I'm sure it is the same for Italy, Brazil, etc. I just think that americans don't have a clue about coffee. You can tell by the amount of things they add to it (soy milk? please!)

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