The perfect coffee brewing temperature is a hot topic in the coffee world, and in many a coffee lover’s kitchen. It can be difficult to find the right balance of flavor, taste and strength that you are looking for if your brewing water is too cold or too hot.
So let’s discuss why the water temperature for coffee matters so much, and how to get it just right. There are other factors that will affect the resulting cup of joe’s satisfaction, and we’ll give those some consideration, too.
Why? Well, my friend, the perfect cup of coffee is a blend of several key elements. If we talk about one (the perfect temperature for coffee brewing) we have to at least chat about the others! We’ll focus on the temperature of the water first.
If you happen to click on a link and then make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.
- What Happens When the Water Temperature is Too Hot or Cold?
- The Perfect Coffee Brewing Temperature is…
- How to Know that Your Water Temperature is Accurate
- What about the coffee beans?
- Brewing methods and the perfect water temperature
What Happens When the Water Temperature is Too Hot or Cold?
Have you ever taken the first sip of freshly made brew and it tasted like, well, not very much of anything at all? It could be that the water temperature wasn’t hot enough, and the resulting beverage suffered from under-extraction of the beans and had thin, unremarkable flavor. It didn’t have the chance to reach that perfect place, the lovely balance and flavor that your palette was anticipating.
There are several reasons why brewed coffee can be under extracted, including too short of a brew time, coffee beans that are too coarse for the brewing method, not enough water used, and as we discussed, water that is not hot enough.
Not only can the resulting coffee taste thin and bleh, it could potentially be bitter, or salty. That cup of coffee will be remembered, but not in a good way!
The opposite problem is when the temperature of the water used to brew coffee is too hot. This can cause an over extraction of the grounds, basically too much happens too soon, and the resulting java is bitter. That is not pleasant, either.
The Perfect Coffee Brewing Temperature is…
The water should be heated to between 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the best temperature for extracting all the flavor from your beans and getting a full, rich cup of coffee with good body.
One important note to those coffee lovers who live in higher altitudes. You probably already know this and have adapted your cooking and brewing habits accordingly, but we’ll touch on it briefly. Water will boil quicker at higher altitudes because of declining air pressure. Water at sea level boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit; at 5,000 feet above sea level, the boiling point is 203 degrees F. Up at 10,000 feet, water boils at 194 degrees F.
Anyhoo, whatever your particular elevation, you’ll want to make sure that your water is between the desired temperature as noted above for the best tasting cup of coffee.
What type of water is best for brewing coffee?
When it comes to brewing a rich, flavorful cup of java, not just any water will do, my friend. Water from the faucet can be hard, containing minerals that will affect the taste of your brewed coffee, and not in a good way.
The best type of water to use for coffee is filtered water. You can filter your tap water at home with the addition of a simple filtering system that fits right on the faucet, or one that sits on the counter or is stored in a container. If your refrigerator offers the option, use the filtered water from there as long as you change the filters when needed!
Of course, you can purchase filtered water as well. Whatever is the most convenient and cost effective option for you. And, all that said, if your tap water doesn’t affect the taste of your coffee in any detrimental way, then go for it!
How to Know that Your Water Temperature is Accurate
Now that we know the perfect water temperature for coffee, the goal is to get to that level of heated water in a safe, simple, affordable way. Here are a couple of options to consider.
Electric water kettle
This is my preferred method – using an electric water kettle. It’s a simple, cost effective solution that guarantees your water is heated to the ideal temperature. Sure, you can purchase an electric kettle with more bells and whistles if you want, including gooseneck kettles. They’re great for pour over drip coffee.
But, a simple electric kettle like those shown below will work just fine:
Just make sure that the electric kettle you choose includes the option to set the specific water temperature desired. It’s worth paying just a few dollars more for that.
Heating water on the stove
Of course, there is always the option of putting some water on the stove to boil. It is the most budget friendly choice. If you use this method for heating your brewing water, let it come to a boil, then remove from the heat and let it sit for about 30 seconds before using it to brew your coffee. Boiling water is not what you want to use! The water will probably fall into the perfect coffee brewing temperature range.
If you want to be more accurate and know for sure that you’re hitting the mark, a laser (non-human) thermometer would be something to consider. They are not a high-cost piece of kitchen gear.
What about the coffee beans?
So, if we’re going to talk about the perfect coffee brewing temperature, we have to include the other essentials for creating maximum enjoyment of the java.
The type of water used is critical, as we just discussed. The other essential is the coffee bean, my friend. Whole bean or ground? Light, medium, or dark roast? Caffeinated or decaf? All important considerations!
If you’re searching for the components to brewing a rich, delicious, and satisfying cup of joe, you’ll want to delve into the world of coffee beans. Because we all have different tastes, preferences, and tolerances, we can’t just come out and tell you that if you brew your coffee with “X” roast, you’ll love it every time.
It’s not quite that simple. But, we can say this:
Grinding your whole bean coffee just prior to brewing will give you the freshest flavor possible. So yes, whole bean coffee, in your choice of brand and roast, is the way to go if you’re after that perfect cup of coffee.
Always remember the ‘golden rule’ of coffee when it comes to ratios: 1 to 2 tablespoons of ground coffee for each 6 ounces of water. Then, adjust to your personal preference.
Brewing methods and the perfect water temperature
When brewing with the more hands-on methods, there are definitely consistencies between them when it comes to the perfect coffee water temperature. Here are guidelines for the most popular:
Pour over coffee
The pour over method is my absolute favorite way to brew a fresh, clean-tasting cup of coffee. A water temperature of 200 degrees Fahrenheit gets the job done very well. There is a process for pouring the hot water over the coffee grounds in the pour over dripper. It’s quite simple once you’ve figured out the ratios that give you the best result.
French press coffee
French press aficionados will tell you that 195 degrees Fahrenheit is the optimum water temperature for that particular brew. My take on it is anywhere from 195 to 200 degrees is a safe temperature for the immersion method that French press coffee is made with, as the coffee grounds steep in the hot water for a set period of time.
I am definitely not a barista, friend, so am relying on those who are for this recommendation. If you’re going to be brewing espresso at home with an espresso machine, proper extraction occurs at 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit. A lower temperature accentuates acidic origin flavors, and a higher temperature accentuates the bitter roast flavors.
Of course, there are other essentials when brewing espresso, such as the bars of pressure, adjusting the grind, and more. If you’re curious, you can find more detail here: Espresso Guide
Cold brew coffee
The really cool thing about cold brew coffee is that it’s brewed with cold water. Really. If you’re not familiar with the process and would like to learn more, check out this post and learn more about the best coffee for cold brew as well as how to make it.
One final note about coffee makers. As you know, cold or room temperature water is used for this type of brewing method. It can be frustrating when the coffee maker doesn’t get the water temperature for coffee quite high enough.
Your best bet if that’s the case is to consider a different type of coffee maker.
Brewing a delicious, fresh, satisfying mug of your favorite blend of coffee is something that all coffee lovers want, consistently. Sometimes it takes us a little while to go through the process of trial and error with coffee brewing, including getting the water temperature just right. But when we do…it’s a little bit of heaven!