How Important is Coffee Brewing Temperature? (The FACTS!)
Nailing the correct coffee brewing temperature is a must for anyone looking to improve and master their home coffee brewing. But the temperature is just one of many key components that go into making a great tasting cup of coffee. Don't forget you also need to have a good coffee scale to accurately weigh out your beans, as well as a decent grinder to ensure you have an even grind and proper extraction. Once all of the tools and brewing variables sync ONLY then will you have a good cup of coffee!
For any new home barista aligning all of these different coffee brewing variables can seem like a challenge and let’s be honest you’re probably thinking you'll have a better chance of aligning up the Powerball on the lottery than getting each of these brewing variables spot-on, especially on your first try!
Water temperature is one of those KEY brewing variables but don’t fret; it’s not as hard as it first seems. In this article, I’m going to talk about coffee brewing temperatures, and just how much temperature matters when brewing a great tasting cup of coffee. But is it worth all the effort to get it spot-on? Keep reading to find out.
You're in Hot Water: Coffee Extraction
Obviously, you can’t brew a cup of coffee without water, and good clean water is the key to a great tasting cup. Water is the element in the brewing process that's fundamental in drawing out the flavor from your freshly ground coffee beans, which by-the-way is referred to as “extraction” in the coffee world.
Like food, if you burn it you’re going to end up with a bitter tasting food product as a result. Coffee is no different, get your water too hot, and you risk leaving your coffee tasting bitter along with over extraction (YUK!). On the other hand, if your water is too cold you run the risk of a weak tasting coffee that's also suffered from under-extraction (double YUK!).
YES, before you all run down to the comment section to tell me that there are methods that use cold water I know and that's an entirely different way to brew coffee (check out this article about the best cold drip coffee makers where I talk about that brewing method). However, in this article, I am speaking about brewing hot coffee NOT cold.
The Best Coffee Brew Temperature for Extraction
Traditionally coffee geeks recommend using a coffee brewing temperature that’s between 195-205F for the best extraction and a great tasting cup of coffee.
Since water boils at 212F getting this temperature spot on can be a challenge (unless of course, you have a thermometer handy) or don’t mind investing in the Bonavita Digital Electric Gooseneck Kettle that can hold and regulate the temperature you set for up to 60 minutes (excellent kettle by the way).
If you don’t have any of those tools to monitor your water temperature, what can you do to make sure you're getting the best temperature to make coffee? Like I always say “it’s not rocket science” and not as hard as these coffee geeks and hipster baristas like to make out. As long as your water is within a reasonable range of the right temperature you are on the RIGHT track.
So what I recommend is once you've brought your kettle up to boil leave it for roughly 60 seconds and then pour into your brewing vessel albeit a GOOD French Press, Chemex brewer, or AeroPress. Doing this will almost always give you the best temperature to make coffee, don’t just take my word for it check out this ABOVE video.
What's The Best Way to Control Coffee Brewing Temperature?
As I mentioned briefly above the best way to get a consistent coffee brew temperature is to invest in a kettle that can hold the temperature of your water consistently.
If you don't have deep pockets and don't want to spend a whole lot of cash, the cheaper option for getting the coffee brewing temperature spot would be to invest in a thermometer. The thermometer will give you much more “bang for your buck” over a specialized coffee kettle, plus it can be used for much more around the kitchen than just coffee brewing.
“If you are brewing coffee using a French Press or Chemex it’s a good idea to pre-heat the vessel before pouring in your water.”
If you're brewing coffee using a French Press or Chemex, it’s a good idea to pre-heat the vessel before pouring in your water. Preheating your coffee brewing vessel will help to control the temperature, if you don’t, you can lose a lot of heat due to your boiled water hitting the cold glass of your Chemex or French Press. Which in-turn will then give you the worst coffee brewing temperature (NOT ideal).
Simply swirl hot water around the glass and pour out, this should just take the cold edge off the glass and will help to keep your water temperature where it needs to be once you pour it in.
To summarize. Don’t drive yourself crazy trying to get the exact coffee brewing temperature and in all honestly spend more time on what really matters the coffee ratios such as the coffee grind, the correct amount of water, and not forgetting using good coffee beans.
All of these coffee brewing variables are much more important than if your water temperature is to the tenth of a decimal place!
That being said you don’t want to completely overlook the coffee water temperature by pouring boiling water on your coffee but on the other hand you don’t want to use cold water that's been sat in the kettle for 20 minutes. Use a bit of common sense, and you'll nail it!
REMEMBER: Boil the kettle, leave it for roughly 60 seconds and use that. 9 out of 10 times the temperature is going to be perfect for home coffee brewing, don’t overthink this coffee brewing variable too much.
The Bonavita Digital Electric Gooseneck Kettle is a GREAT way to consistently regulate the water for the best coffee brewing temperature efficiently. If you can’t find one in your local brick and mortar store, you can find this kettle at Amazon.