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Coffee & Water Temperature (some like it hot)

April 30, 2012

The standard brewing guidelines say that your water temperature should be between 195-205. Home automatic drip brewers are often chided for not reaching that temperature range, but there are plenty of home drip makers that do. The Technivorm and Bonavita come to mind, but there are other cheaper models that reach that temperature too.

See Clive Coffee for a temperature test w/r/t those models: http://www.clivecoffee.com/learn/2012/01/first-look-bonavita-versus-technivorm/

Obvious, but I'll just note that those temperatures were reached when doing *full* batches that took around six minutes. Bigger batches mean more thermal mass and higher temperature...if you were to brew a half- or quarter-batch on one of those machines, the brewing temperature would be significantly lower. 

When it comes to pourover, it's rather easy *not* to reach that temperature. That range speaks to the temperature in the slurry--the mixture of coffee grounds and water in your dripper-not the temperature in the kettle.

A common bit of advice for pourover is, Boil your water in a fast electric kettle, then transfer it into a pouring kettle. The temperature in the pouring kettle will then be around 200 degrees. Perfect, right?

Well, you're going to lose a lot of temperature just by pouring the water. This is why something like the electric Bonavita is useful--you don't have to transfer water from kettle to kettle, so you should be able to avoid that heat loss.

Does temperature in the dripper really matter? Yes, it'll change the character of the coffee, but whether for better or worse is for your own taste buds to decide. A lower temperature will mean a smoother coffee--hence the famous smoothness of an Aeropress brew performed according the manufacturer's 175 degree F instructions--whereas higher temps will give you more acidity (not to say "acid"), more sparkling fruit qualities.

I put these ideas to the test this morning, brewing three cups with three different temperatures in my dripper: 188, 193, and 202.

The 188 & 193 cups were very good, but to me the 202 cup tasted a lot better. It was juicier, had a nice cherry-cola quality, whereas the cooler cups more subtly gestured at that flavor. The cooler cups had a more approachable "coffee taste," whereas the 202 cup tasted less like "coffee" as most people understand it, and more cane sugar, cherry, and coke.

Some would prefer the cup brewed with hotter water, some would prefer the cooler cups. I'm just saying here that water temperature is worth paying attention to if you're doing pourover, especially small one-person pourovers, where temperature loss is a more frequent "problem." Problem, from the point-of-view of this guy, who likes his coffee brewed hot.








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