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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Ideal Coffee Temperature for Brewing and Serving Coffee

Ideal Coffee Temperature Experiment

What is the Ideal Temperature for Coffee?

Measuring coffee temperature
Measuring the Ideal Temperature for Coffee
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Brewing temperature is important for great-tasting coffee.  Brewing at too high temperature can result in scorched tasting coffee.  Brewing at too low temperature can result in weak flavor.

The serving temperature is also important.  Coffee that sits on a burner that is too hot can make good coffee taste scorched.  Coffee that is too cool does not taste as good.

I think almost everyone would agree that temperature is important for brewing and serving coffee- but what is the ideal temperature?

Measuring the Temperature of Great Coffee

I decided to use my Christmas present to find out exactly the ideal brewing and serving temperature for coffee.  My present is a non-contact infrared thermometer.  It has dual lasers to identify the area of measurement and a nice digital display with the precise temperature measurement.  This is a really nice instrument, and as you can imagine I lots of fun measuring the temperature of all kinds of things around the house.

Measuring Coffee Temperature in the Cup at Serving Temperature
Measuring Coffee Temperature in the Cup at Serving Temperature
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

I used my Melitta thermal coffeemaker as the ideal temperature source.  This coffeemaker makes great coffee, and the reviews emphasize that this coffeemaker is especially good at brewing and serving at the ideal temperature for coffee.

I measured the coffee temperature in the following places:
  1. In the coffee cup, just after pouring
  2. In the thermal pot, just after brewing
  3. In the filter basket, just after brewing
  4. On the surface of the burner
Measuring Brewing Temperature of Coffee- Coffee Grounds in the Filter Basket
Measuring Brewing Temperature of Coffee- Coffee Grounds in the Filter Basket
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Ideal Coffee Temperature

Here are the temperature measurements:
The cup of coffee, ready to serve was at 138 F
The coffee in the thermal pot was at 152 F
The grounds in the filter basket were at 158 F
The burner was at 205 F

Note that these temperatures may not match what is shown in the photographs since I made the measurements in the photos later after the coffee has cooled down a bit.  Also, it was difficult to aim the non-contact thermometer correctly and hold my cell phone to take the picture with my other hand at the same time...

So, the ideal brewing temperature for coffee is 158 F / 70 C

The ideal serving temperature is not so clear.  Some people would think 138 F is not hot enough- some restaurants serve coffee at 200 F.  I would say the ideal serving temperature for coffee is a matter of taste.  At 138 F, the coffee is still hot and I can taste a lot of the subtle flavors in the coffee.  The problem with serving at 138 F is you need to drink it pretty fast because it starts to seem cool when it gets much below 138 F.  I think 200 F is too hot- you can't really taste the coffee.

One discovery from making these temperature measurements was that the burner is at over 200 F / 93.3 C.  So, even in the excellent Melitta thermal coffee maker, you might want to pour the coffee from the thermal carafe fairly soon after brewing to avoid scorching it.

I tried leaving coffee in the pot for a few minutes after brewing was complete and noticed that it heated up to 147 F.  It makes sense that the coffee would heat up since it is sitting on a burner at 200 F.  It seems that you can pretty much choose your coffee temperature by controlling how long you leave it on the burner.  Pour it immediately, and the coffee is at 138 F.  Leave it in the carafe and it will heat up, reaching 205 F after perhaps 15 minutes.

I'm going to pick 158 F as my ideal temperature for serving coffee.  Ideally, you could keep the coffee at the ideal brewing temperature and serve it at that temperature.

Copyright © 2014 Dr. Penny Pincher. All Rights Reserved. Coffee Maker Journal

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