Extra Hot, please! Temperature matters when it comes to coffee.


As seasons change, temperatures fall, and demand for hot drinks soars. In coffee circles, heated debates continue about the “correct” temperature to create the perfect brew, and how much to heat the milk.

We’ve all done it. I’ve heard myself saying “could I have that extra hot, please?” But, know this, deep down inside the Barista is mentally shaking their head at your not-too unreasonable request.

Why? Because too hot, usually means too bad for your coffee.

There’s two parts to this heating problem. The brew and the milk.

The brew is the easy part. It is generally accepted that water just off the boil, is about ideal – between 90-94 degrees Celsius to be precise. And some coffee afficionados are that precise when they are brewing, even at home. The hotter the liquid, the faster the coffee extraction. As most roasts are dark, the extraction is already quick, and speeding that process up further still with boiling hot water will only add a hint of bitterness to your coffee that nobody wants.

So, from now on, if you’re making coffee at home, count 10 seconds after the kettle has boiled before pouring into your cafetiere.

The milk, however, is where it can all go wrong. I say that as someone who loathes a lukewarm latte. When it comes to heating the milk the Barista has to tread a really fine line between creating lovely frothy (or silky) bubbles and actually heating up the milk. All the while they run the risk of over-heating it because, at 68 degrees celsius, milk begins to degrade in taste. Mouthfeel diminishes too as the milk proteins are irreversibly broken down.

So what to do? Well, it sounds simple, but if you are on the move a good insulated re-usable cup with a lid will strike a balance between taste and temperature, keeping your drink hotter for longer and tasting fine (the goal).

Another solution is to avoid larger cup sizes. Coffee was never meant to be drunk like that anyway. Blame the Americans for that one, bigger is not always better.

If you’re making coffee at home and like it milky, invest in a Nespresso Aeroccino milk frother which, for me, is my gadget of the year. Forget air-fryers to save money this winter, this little automatic milk frothing pot has saved me a small fortune at Costa and delivers a perfectly hot frothy coffee experience.

Article First Published in The Menu Magazine in The Courier and Press & Journal