If you’re digging around for a simple answer to “what’s the best temp for brewing coffee?” you may be disappointed to hear that it’s not that simple. While many sources will tell you that a good cup of coffee is brewed around 200° Fahrenheit, the situation gets more complicated the deeper you look.
For instance, light roast coffees may brew best at much higher temperatures. Instant coffee beverages may require lower temps. When it really boils right down to it, it all depends on preference.
We’ll dissect what you need to know about how brewing temperature affects your morning cup. Then, you can decide what’s best for your favorite brew. Let’s jump in:
Table of Contents
- The best temperature for brewing coffee depends on the roast degree and type of bean.
- Water that is too hot can cause a bitter taste, while water that is too cool won’t extract the coffee properly.
- The best brew temp may range from 195° Fahrenheit to 205° Fahrenheit.
Does Coffee Brewing Temperature Matter?
To some, the temperature used to brew coffee is a non-factor, especially when most drip coffee pots have their own unavoidable default temperatures. To others, however, it's a much more serious matter. Take the World Aeropress Championship, a coffee brewing competition that draws a crowd of thousands each year.
The winning brew temps for the last decade sit somewhere around 167-185 °F. That is, of course, at least 27°F below boiling temp.
The highest recorded winning temp was 197.6°F, a record set by Wendelien van Bunnik from the Netherlands in the 2019 competition. Albeit, this temp is still well below boiling and was probably only suitable for the specific technique (involving special coffee filters) that was used.
In other words, there's no one perfect brew temp, rather it depends on various factors, like your specific coffee bean and roast degree and the method you use to brew your coffee. Other things, like flavor and strength preference, also come into play.
What Determines the Best Temperature for Brewing Coffee?
There are a few things to consider that each affect the best brewing temp for coffee:
Higher Temps are More Efficient
As water gets hotter (closer to boiling temperature, or 212° Fahrenheit), it becomes more efficient at extracting compounds from the coffee beans. This logic applies to most substances (think tea infusions) up to the burning point.
So, by this logic, some people will use water that’s close to boiling point to brew coffee, assuming that it will make a stronger cup of coffee.
Heat Dissipates During Brewing
Heat disperses during the brewing process, which means that you need to brew coffee at a hotter temperature than you want to drink it. This is true regardless of how you brew coffee, although some methods will allow more heat to dissipate than others.
For instance, pour over coffee may lose quite a bit of heat, while a properly warmed french press will lose less heat during brewing. Drip coffee makers sometimes have hot plates that keep the coffee at a suitable temperature after brewing.
Either way, you may want to take the brewing style into account when choosing a brew temp.
Brew for the Bean
The best temperature to brew a cup of coffee will heavily depend on the type of coffee bean you’re brewing up. Coffee beans brew differently depending on the type of bean, growing conditions, and roast degree of the bean. Dense coffees are more difficult to extract, while a heavily roasted, lighter coffee may extract easily.
For instance, light roasts may need to be brewed at a higher temperature to get a good brew. Light roast coffee beans are much more dense and therefore more difficult to extract. Dark or medium roast coffees can brew at lower temperatures just fine. In fact, using water too hot can extract a bitter flavor from a darker roast coffee.
Consistency Brews the Best Cup
Once you narrow down the best temperature for brewing coffee, find a way to keep your brew temp consistent. Most standard coffee makers brew around 200° Fahrenheit, while others may allow you to set the temperature.
If you do pour over or french press coffee, you’ll either need an electric kettle with adjustable temperature gauge or a thermometer to measure the water temp each time you brew. Being able to maintain a consistent temperature while brewing coffee will help you replicate that perfect cup of coffee each time.
Instant Coffee and Iced Coffees Brew Differently
It may go without saying that an instant coffee beverage or an iced brew requires lower temperatures. While some people consider these “no brew” methods as inferior, the truth is that the cold brewing technique unlocks new flavors and depths not experienced with traditional brews.
For instant coffee beverages, the brewing temperature is more akin to the preferred drinking temperature, though you may want to increase it a bit to account for any cool creamers or add-ins you may use.
Where to Start: Tips For Brewing Coffee at the Perfect Temp
As we've already mentioned, the temperature needed to brew the perfect cup depends on several factors, including preference. If you're ready to nail down the science behind brewing your perfect cup of coffee, here are some guidelines that may help you get started:
For Light Roasts:
We recommend using hotter water for light roast than you would for medium or dark roast coffees. In some cases, these temperatures may be very close to boiling. You may try a water temperature of 205° Fahrenheit, possibly even higher, to effectively extract compounds from the lightest roast coffees. For the best results, however, allow the coffee to cool just slightly before adding any creams. This is great for pour over brewing methods where the coffee does not steep for too long.
For Dark or Medium Roasts:
For a dark roast coffee, you may start with temperatures around 200° Fahrenheit, or possibly even lower. If your brew has a bitter aftertaste, consider lowering the temperature by a few degrees to perfect your brew. This is a great method for drip brewing or french press brewing, or other methods where the coffee may steep longer.
Best Coffee Brew Temp FAQ
What temperature should you brew coffee at?
Depending on the bean and roast, you should brew coffee at a temperature between 195 and 205 ° Fahrenheit for ideal extraction. Colder water will not extract the coffee from the bean properly, while hotter water may scorch the beans.
Can I use boiling water to brew coffee?
Water boils at 21° Fahrenheit, a temperature that is too high for brewing coffee without scorching it. The exception may be very light roast coffees, which require hotter temperatures for proper extraction and are more resistant to burning.
What happens if coffee is brewed with water that is too hot?
Hot water is efficient at extracting compounds from coffee, but after a certain temperature it may burn the coffee beans. Coffee that is brewed with water that is too hot will often have a bitter flavor.