That is a great question!
Figuring out the temperature for your favorite cup of coffee is something that many people may not pay attention to but it is the key to unlocking the true flavor of the coffee and being able to distinguish the different notes within the blend you are using.
I am someone that likes everything I eat and drink to be piping hot but when it comes to coffee, it is a little different. When you serve coffee too hot, you will not only burn your tastebuds but it will also hide the subtle and delicate flavors of the drink. On the other hand, if it is served too cold, it will not be a gratifying experience.
First, let's talk about pour over coffee.
In a study that was run in 2016, it was concluded that we perceive the sweetness of food and beverages at 140 degrees fahrenheit. This is a key factor when thinking about the temperature of coffee. George Howell, a leader in the coffee industry, prefers his coffee to be served around 130 degrees fahrenheit. He claims that the coffees more subtle and delicate flavors are revealed at this temperature, making it a more memorable and enjoyable cup of coffee.
According to the National Coffee Association of the USA, the recommended serving temperature for coffee is around 180-185 degrees fahrenheit. This is best if you are looking for the coffee to warm you up, not if you want to experience the flavor of the coffee.
On the other hand, the Coffee Detectives suggest a serving temperature of 155-175 degrees fahrenheit. When it comes to using high quality beans, they recommend to serve your coffee at a lower temperature, closer to 155 degrees fahrenheit, so that you can really taste the beans and flavor of the blend.
For milk based coffee drinks like lattes, cappuccinos, cortados, etc., it is important to remember that regular milk has proteins that start to burn at around 170 degrees fahrenheit. When you overheat milk, it will mask the flavors of your coffee so you will not be able to taste the full flavor profile of the espresso beverage you are drinking.
According to the SCA (Specialty Coffee Association), the recommended maximum temperature for heating milk is 158 degrees fahrenheit, with a minimum temperature of 122 degrees fahrenheit. This lets us stay in the zone of being able to taste the different flavors of the beans while still enjoying a nice, warm cup of coffee.
One last tip for those of us that want the best of both worlds- being able to taste the palate of the beans while drinking something that is warm until the last sip- heat up your coffee mug! This is a game changer, especially if you live in colder climates. Warming up your coffee cup for just a few seconds in the microwave will keep your coffee beverage warm the whole way through.
At the end of the day, the ultimate decision comes down to your own flavor preferences. Do you want to be able to taste the mellow notes in your morning cup or would you rather be drinking a hot cup of joe to warm you up? It is all up to you!