Creating a perfect cup of coffee is controlled by a number of super delicate variables. One of the most important yet often most neglected is water temperature.The goal of brewing coffee is to extract the most flavor out of the bean. If your water is too hot, you risk over-extraction, and in turn; a burnt, bitter coffee. If your water is too cold, you risk under-extraction, and in turn; weak, sour coffee. The goal is to find yourself right in the middle of those two temperatures at which you will be able to extract the most flavor out of a bean without tampering it by burning it.
The Best Temperature For Brewing:
According to The National Coffee Association, the perfect temperature to brew a cup of coffee with the goal of utmost flavor extraction is between 195ºF – 205ºF. That leaves a gap of 10 degrees so that depending on your preference (whether you like it more bitter or not) you can choose what exact temperature you want to brew at. Any temperature outside of this range risks over-extraction or under-extraction.
Another rule of thumb is to aim on the lower temperature side for darker roasts and on the higher side of temperature for lighter roasts.
Also, if you have an AeroPress, you can aim a little lower in temperature. The winner of the Aeropress world championship actually brewed his coffee at 179º. Be hesitant though; he is a super duper expert (it’s tricky to make coffee taste good at that temperature).
Why 195ºF – 205ºF?
This temperature range is where water-soluble flavor compounds dissolve in water easiest. If your water isn’t within this range it could risk over-dissolving or under-dissolving the compounds which could totally ruin the cup of coffee.
(Pictured Above: Woman Happy Because She is Enjoying a Cup of Coffee Brewed Between 195ºF – 205ºF)
If You Don’t Have A Thermometer:
If you live at sea level, simply bring the water to a boil and wait about a minute or two before brewing. However, if you live at high elevations then you will brew the water immediately after it boils. At 5,000 feet of elevation water boils at 202º which would be right within the range to brew coffee. If you live 7k+ feet high then maybe let the water rise in temperature a little bit after it boils before you brew.
Aim for 195ºF – 205ºF.
For a water kettle with a built in thermometer, try this one that I use at home: