The Perfect Coffee Brewing Temperature
Coffee Brewing Temperature 101
So, what's the perfect coffee brewing temperature? When your recipe has only two ingredients, every single detail becomes a matter of life and death. Okay, more like a good or a bad cup of coffee.
But here's the thing: there's not THE perfect temperature. Yeah, straight out of the gate with this one. But give it a second thought - a lot of experts claim that the boiling water is a total no go, yet where does it leave Turkish coffee? That stuff is actually boiled on the stovetop... And is rather lovely if you like your coffee strong, fast, and fresh from the fight.
So, let's talk about coffee brewing temperature options.
The Boiling Point
You should never, ever, forever and ever use boiling water to make your coffee, right?
Ahm, no? Maybe?
The truth is that some beans, roasts, and grinds, as well as brewing methods actually like it hot. As already mentioned, Turkish coffee is made by boiling water, then adding ground coffee, and bringing the mixture to a boil again. The procedure is quite similar when it comes to cowboy coffee as well.
The main reason everyone hates using boiling water is that it tends to give a lot more bitterness than other methods. It also pairs terribly with larger grind sizes and lighter roasts. Basically, you can end up with a lot of acrid notes and a cup that can only be tossed down the drain. On the other hand, if you use a very fine grind, a very dark roast, and you brew your coffee for a very short period of time, you may actually end up with something delicious and quite intense!
The Right Roast, Grind, Method...
Since I'm in the office already, I can also make a case for consistency and accuracy here. Especially if you don't have access to fancy equipment.
Way back when, when I could not excuse large expenditures in the hot drinks station equipment, I used to rely on a regular kettle and a plain french press to get my java fix. I would boil the kettle, and once it turned itself off, I would open the lid to release excess steam. The beans I used to use were Italian/espresso roast. A slightly finer grind than I would choose these days (yes, I had to strain the brew once more), and I would almost half my brewing time.
As you can see, I've survived to tell the tale. Looking back, it was not as delicious as most coffees I've made since then... But it was still more than palatable. The point being, as long as you pick the right roast, grind, method, and brewing time, you can use boiling water.
Coffee Brewing Temperature - The Magic Zone
200 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the number that you will see mentioned by every barista, food scientist, coffee junkie, etc. And it's pretty much correct. I mean, if you talk to someone from the northern regions or from across the pond, that would be 95 degrees Celsius which is a bit hotter, but okay. More or less, that is a place you want to be with your coffee brewing temperature.
HOWEVER, treat that number as a starting point. Yes, you will always get a decent cup of joe with that number alone... But it can get so much better if you adjust it to your beans.
Finer grinds and darker roast can handle the heat (as I've mentioned above), but you can't be too generous with your time. But, if you lower your temperature by even one degree, you could add another 30 seconds to the brew time.
To get the most out of the more complex flavors that come with light roasts, "lighten" the temperature as well. I like to start at 195 with a new batch and continue playing from there.
A coarse grind can do just fine at 200, but I would not recommend going above that number. Coarser grinds require more time for extraction and while that is usually a recipe for a more intricate taste... It comes with its own little headaches. Too short and too low of a temperature, and you'll get none of those flavor notes you paid for. Too long and too high of a temperature can lead to over-extraction of bitter flavors you don't really want in your cup. The trick is to find the right balance, but once you do, you're golden for life. Or at least until you switch to a different roast or brand.
Let's Talk Thermometers...
As in, invest in one.
A good thermometer is a true workhorse in the kitchen, and it can turn almost anyone into a great cook. It doesn't matter what style or brand it is, it just has to be instant-read.
As in, it needs to give you the reading within 2-3 seconds max. Anything that makes you wait longer than that, present to your enemy.
Oh, you want one of those fancy laser guns? Sure, get it, it's your money. But just know that it's more or less useless. Those guys only measure the surface temperatures which, depending on the size and shape of your kettle, can be off from the actual numbers.
The Cold Truth
When you chuck your grounds into cold water, something very magical happens - you get coffee! Cold brew coffee! I know, who would have thunk it.
But just like other coffee brewing temperatures, it will bring something different to the party.
The cold brewing method is simple and doesn't require very expensive equipment. The only thing you need to pay attention to is your grinder. You can get something that is budget-friendly, just make sure it's a burr grinder and that it's at least somewhat consistent.
And what will you end up with? For starters, quite a few notes that you miss out on in the hot brewing methods. Mostly because some of those compounds either need more time to be extracted, or they end up "frying off" in hot water. You will also get less caffeine - kind of cool if you are a kindred soul that like sipping on java throughout the day, but would also like to be able to fall asleep at some point.
If you are playing in cold water, remember to use a medium-coarse or a coarse grind, and that time is your best friend. If the cold is fridge cold, give it at least 12 hours to infuse. But, if your patience exists only in the form of an abstract concept, bring the temperature up to 90-ish degrees, and you could have a cuppa ready in about an hour.
Coffee Brewing Temperature - An Art
With that being said we hope we were able to answer the question of what's the perfect coffee brewing temperature... We hope you learned something new from this post and most importantly - we hope you enjoyed it!
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