Last Updated on May 28, 2022 by John Moretti
Everyone knows that coffee needs hot water to brew efficiently. But, does the temperature of the water really matter that much? Is there an ideal brew temperature for coffee? should different coffees be brewed at different temperatures? These are all questions that anyone interested in coffee finds themselves asking. Let’s find out!
The best brew temperature for coffee depends on the coffee roast and the brew method. Light roasts should be brewed at high temperatures above 90°C. Dark roasts should be brewed slightly cooler at temperatures between 80°C and 88°C. Medium Roasts fall somewhere in-between.
The best temperatures for brewing coffee seem to be relative. Depending on who you ask, the ideal temperature for a good brew varies, so is there a way to determine which temperature is best for the coffee that you brew?
Is There An Ideal Temperature For Brewing Coffee?
It is well known that the temperature of the water used for brewing coffee is one of the most significant contributing factors to the success of the brew and the overall flavor of the coffee that it produces.
This means that the brew temperature is vital for achieving the best possible tasting coffee brew. However, brew temperature is also very challenging to understand, and defining the exact right temperature for a brew is almost impossible.
With that in mind, there are temperature figures that will change the brew depending on which way you adjust the temperature, and there are ways to use the temperature of a brew to significantly alter the taste of the coffee regardless of how you brew the coffee or what type of coffee you are brewing.
Let’s explore the ideal temperatures for brewing different coffee roasts and different coffee brewing methods.
The ideal temperature for brewing dark or medium roasted coffee is very similar. This temperature is very different from the ideal temperature for brewing light roast coffee, but the temperature is vital all the same.
Darker roast coffee should be brewed with water that is between 80°C and 88°C. These temperatures offer the best extraction during the brew without pulling out any of the unpleasant ashy, smokey flavors that are present in dark roasted coffee.
Using water that is any hotter than 88°C will result in the unpleasant flavors that we associate with burnt coffee. The coffee is not burnt, but the smokey roasty flavors from the roasting process are being extracted along with the delicious coffee flavors when higher temperatures are used for brewing dark roasted coffee beans.
Lightly roasted coffee is completely different. Lightly roasted coffee beans are more difficult to extract than dark or medium roasted coffee beans. This is because the beans are denser, and there is more material within the beans to be extracted.
The density and insolubility of lightly roasted coffee beans require a higher brewing temperature for the best possible brew results.
Brewing with a temperature as high as possible is best for light roast coffee. Above 90°C is ideal for this coffee, regardless of the brewing method.
These high temperatures will extract the delicious and delicate flavors present in lightly roasted coffee beans. Brewing with slightly cooler temperatures will result in a disappointing brew.
The method that is used to brew the coffee is another factor that influences the brew temperature. The brew temperature of the espresso is different from the brew temperature of filter coffee brews.
Filter coffee requires less stable brew temperatures than espresso, but the same temperature truths are applicable.
Dark roasted coffee brewed espresso-style should be brewed at a temperature between 80°C and 85°C. Medium roasts should be brewed at between 88°C and 90°C when used for espresso, and light roasted espresso should be brewed above 90°C.
Other methods such as the Moka Pot will naturally brew at higher temperatures, but the general rule that darker roasts require lower temperatures is still true, as well as the fact that light roasts require as much heat as possible to brew well.
Why Is Brew Temperature So Important?
The brew temperature when preparing coffee is so important because the temperature determines how well the coffee is extracted during the brew.
The extraction of the coffee determines what flavors will be brought out of the coffee beans, how strong the coffee will be once brewed, and the overall taste of the brew as well.
If the temperature of a brew is incorrect, it is very likely to produce a poor or lackluster tasking cup of coffee. Brew temperatures that are too low will under-extract the coffee, producing a sour or empty tasting brew.
Very high brew temperatures based on the type of coffee in the brew will produce ashy, roasty flavors that are unpleasant to drink. This is especially true for dark roasted coffee.
For this reason, the temperature must be carefully controlled when brewing coffee to produce the best overall results. Take the time to understand what type of coffee you are brewing and the best temperatures for your brew method, and you will always produce the tastiest cup possible from your coffee brew.
Can The Brewing Temperature Be Too High?
You have probably heard someone say that their coffee tastes burnt. This is a common adjective used when a cup of coffee tastes too over-developed or over-extracted due to brew temperature.
The truth is that it is not possible to burn coffee beans with hot water. Coffee beans are roasted at temperatures in excess of 200°C, and water will never reach temperatures higher than 100°C.
Even if boiling water is used for brewing, it is not hot enough to further develop the roast of coffee beans sufficiently to burn the coffee.
For this reason, brew water cannot be too hot for a certain type of coffee. Lightly roasted coffee beans should be brewed as hot as possible for the best results.
Water can be too hot for dark roasts, but the temperature can never be so hot that it burns the coffee beans during the brew.
The ideal temperature for brewing coffee is dependent on the type of coffee that is being brewed and the brew method. Light roasts require higher temperatures than dark roasts, but the temperature ultimately determines the success and flavor of the brew.
Take the time to understand what brew temperature is ideal for your preferred coffee type and brew method, and your coffee is more likely to taste as good as you would like it to every time you brew.