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What Is The Best Temperature For Coffee?

Updated on September 29, 2009

Coffee is a daily treat that you can drink every morning to help you face your work day, but it still is important to know the best way to serve it so that you are getting the optimal taste and flavor within your cup of Joe. What is the best temperature to serve your coffee at, and how does temperature affect the flavor profile of your Java?

In a simple answer, it is best to serve your coffee at 70°C to 80°C, or 155°F to 175°F. Many people will prefer it at the higher end of the temperature spectrum, which would be 175°F. However, you do have to take into consideration some of the many lawsuits that have been in affect over the years, including a customer suing McDonald's because they spilled hot coffee on themselves. That is a tragic lawsuit, especially since it is so ridiculous, but it does account for the temperature of McDonald's coffee service to be taken into question. At that time, McDonald's did serve their coffee at 195° to 205°F. That is significantly higher than the optimal coffee temperature range. McDonald's did recommend for their customers to drink their coffee at 180°F to 190°F, and the reason that they did lose the lawsuit was because their coffee was too hot and did scald their customer when she spilled it.

One of the main reasons to adhere to the appropriate temperature in your coffee drinking is because if your coffee is served at too high a temperature, then many of the essential oils found with the coffee product can evaporate. This will cause the flavor quality to be lost. The essential oils of the coffee beans are responsible for the flavor and aroma of your cup of Joe, so when they are compromised, your coffee will no longer have the deep and complex taste that it once did. It is advised to drink your coffee at 175°F to trust that it will be the best quality and flavor available to you.

When coffee is of a higher quality, it will taste much better served within this temperature range. Many people do like their coffee to be extremely hot, and they prefer the temperature range that was once used by McDonald's. Also, you do have to take into account how the coffee may cool when milk is added to it, which is why many people will preheat their cream or milk before adding it to their coffee so that it does not cool the temperature significantly. However, many people from other cultures prefer their coffee hotter than Americans do, so they feel that the American coffee temperature range is too low for their taste.

Regardless of which type of coffee that you like to enjoy, keep an eye on the temperature that you are serving your coffee at to make sure that it is neither too hot nor too cold so that the flavor and taste are not affected. Coffee that is served too hot does have the potential to lose the essential oils that give it its flavorful quality.


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    • Taranwanderer profile image

      Taranwanderer 3 years ago

      Piping hot, is the best coffee temp, I say lol! Thanks for writing.

    • profile image

      JohnCohen 4 years ago

      So the boiling hot temperature that a lot of coffee houses serve it at is not the optimum temperature? Figures.


      John Cohen

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      Bob 4 years ago

      Did the window cashier throw a pot of coffe on the woman? No. If she made her own coffee at home and dumped it on herself, who would she sue? If she made boiling water for tea and dumped it on herself, who would she sue?

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      Jon 4 years ago

      I really don't like that this article mentions the case about the McDonald's coffee in such a ways as to insinuate the woman who sued was in the wrong. Their coffee was so hot that she suffered third-degree burns and had to spend a week in the hospital. She racked up $10,000 in medical bills. McDonald's had received numerous complaints about the temperature of their coffee and decided not to change their policy, even though their own materials explained that 180 degrees should be the limit. This woman asked them to help her with her medical bills and they refused. During the case, McDonald's was offered multiple chances to settle and just cover her bills (and court costs), but they refused. They ended up shelling out a cool $600,000 for their stupidity and greed.

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      Christopher Grove 4 years ago

      You made a comment about the McDonald's lawsuit... I also thought it was ridiculous... until I was educated about the facts of the case.

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      Lawrence Black 5 years ago

      Please note the internal contradiction in your article on McDonalds. At one pint you say the lawsuit against them is ridiculous. At another you said the coffee was served too hot and it did scald. McDonalds regularly paid off the few who got scalded . It was worked into their profit margin for using cheaper coffee which needed to be kept hotter. The jury punished them for endangering and HARMING their customers.

    • CZCZCZ profile image

      CZCZCZ 5 years ago from Oregon

      Interesting hub on the right temperature for coffee, thanks for sharing. I am one that does not prefer the super hot coffee as I drink it black and when it is served very hot, I have to wait forever until it cools enough to drink it.

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      Christine Grayston 6 years ago

      Coffee that is too cool also affects the flavour. Everywhere we go we are being served coffee which can only be described as luke warm. On asking for a hot coffee we either get a rude response or we have been told 140degrees F is the maximum allowed. That is ridiculous!! We do our best to only go to independent coffee shops as they seem to want to please their customers.

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      Michael J. McFadden 6 years ago

      Your article noted, "Coffee that is served too hot does have the potential to lose the essential oils that give it its flavorful quality."

      Hmmm... so if I'm sitting next to you while you are imbibing am I then being forced to consume "secondhand coffee"? Are any of the evaporating oils that you share with the children who might be in a restaurant or diner with you carcinogenic? Does addictive caffeine evaporate as well?

      - MJM

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      MRS 6 years ago

      I just had a cup of coffee from Wendy's tonight and it was 190 degrees(the manager confirmed) and it burned not only my tongue but all the way down my throat. You can see the burns.

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      Jeb 7 years ago

      The mcdonald suit was not "rediculous"

      - The heat of the coffee was so high it undermined

      - the styrofoam cup she was holding. She suffered third degree burns,

      - the burns were so severe she required SKIN GRAFTS and prolonged hospitalisation

      - the family asked mcdonalds for compensation of the medical costs when their mother was facing losing her home due to the high medical costs

      - mcdonalds only offered $800 even though they were fully insured for this kind of thing. If i dent someones car bumper, i can expect to make an insurance claim, and that bumper will likely cost more than mcdonalds offered for repair to a 3rd degree burn on a human being

      - the jury awarrded punative damages because of the wreckless uncaring way mcdonalds behaved

      - mcdonalds used its huge corporate money bags to smear the woman and the case and to make ot appear "rediculous" and the lie lives on in this article.

      A small coffee shop that has insurance, that serves coffee at a normal tempurature in a cup that isn't going to collapse a) would not end up in a jury trial (mcdonalds refused everyithing short of a tial- failed to show up for mediation etc) b) would not be judged as wreckless as mcdonalds was. Because they DID wrecklessly endanger people knowing the risk, but assuming they were too big to have any consequence. That's why the jury sent a message straight to their money bags

      - mcdonalds knew the rediculously high temp of yheir coffee caused 3rd degree burns in 2-7 seconds because many other people had suffered serious burns before, but they made a financial decision to keep the coffee that hot so it would keep longer

    • Chuggin McCoffee profile image

      Chuggin McCoffee 8 years ago from San Antonio

      Black coffee is always the best because it gives the truest flavors, so great choice! Thanks :)

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      Robert Ballard 8 years ago

      I too am a lover and drinker of coffee, My wife likes to buy whatever is on sale at the local grocery stores but I ttend to like Folgers, Columbian. I drink it black. Great hub!

      Robert Ballard