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How Hot is Your Coffeemaker?

The Optimal Temperature for Brewing a Great Cup of Coffee.

My grandmother, every morning, used to open a can of Hills Brothers coffee, put the ground coffee in a percolator and place the percolator on top of a wood stove. After the coffee had finished “perking” she pulled it off the stove and served it. My grandfather loved it; it was hot, black and gave him a jolt to start his day. She then put the percolator back on the stove and let it boil some more, just in case he needed another jolt.

It wasn’t great coffee but who knew the difference. If you are reading this, you know the difference. You know the four elements of a great cup of coffee, beans, water, brewing temperature and dwell time. But do you know whether or not your coffee maker is brewing at the right temperature?

According to the Specialty Coffee Association of America and the National Coffee Association, the optimal temperature for brewing a great cup of coffee is 197.6 – 204.8F. If the temperature of the water is too low under extraction occurs. Since acids in the beans are the first substances to dissolve, the coffee will taste weak and have a sour flavor.

If the water temperature is too high, then over extraction occurs and the coffee tastes bitter. Hula Daddy Kona Coffee brewed at the right temperature tastes sweet and flavorful, doesn’t burn your throat and doesn’t give you “coffee mouth.”

The most recent edition of Consumer Reports rates a number of popular coffee makers. One of the criteria is the ability of the coffeemaker to brew coffee at 200F.Consumer Reports rated the following coffeemarkers as excellent in brewing coffee at 200F:

  • Cusinart Brew Central
  • Michael Graves 40304
  • Oster Counterforms 4281
  • Zojirushi Fresh Brew
  • Krups Coffee Machine
  • Kitchen Aid Pro Line KPCM050MNP
  • Mr. Coffee JWX27
  • Hamilton Beach Day or Go 45237

However, one problem with the Consumer Reports test is that all of these coffeemakers were brand new. We have tested a number of used coffeemakers and found that after a few months that the brewing temperature drops drastically. One popular used coffeemaker we tested was brewing coffee at 156F. If you use a drip coffee maker, take a meat thermometer and place it under the water discharge head on your coffeemaker. It should read close to 200F. If you can’t get to the head, check the temperature of the coffee coming out of the filter. It should be about 160F. If your temperature is below or above the recommended temperature you need a new coffeemaker.

The only coffeemakers certified by the Specialty Coffee Association to brew coffee at 200F are the Technivorms. These coffeemakers are imported from the Netherlands and are sold by most specialty coffee supply houses. If you can’t find one nearby check out SweetMarias.com.  Be aware that the Technivorm coffeemakers cost about $250.

Comments

  1. Why we have to brew coffee at 200F? Just wonder

  2. Dan Hammack says:

    Technivorms are not the only coffeemakers certified by the Specialty Coffee Association to brew coffee at 200F. Bonavita’s and Bunn HG Brewers are too and both are considerably cheaper than Technivorms.

    • Robert Franz says:

      And neither existed when this article was posted.
      or a year later…
      or a year after that…
      or after that…

      • Well, of course you and Dan are both right. Since our blog new brewers have come on the market that will continue to brew at 200F. The most recent is the Bunn Trifecta MB, at $500. Thanks to both of you for your comments. Come see us in Kona if you get a chance.

  3. I just tested the temperature of my $20 Black & Decker single cup coffee maker and it registered a perfect 160 degrees in the cup. I paid $10 for it on sale. So you never know!

  4. I just checked my Black & Decker 10 cup machine, with uncertain results.
    A temperature probe in the (double wall) carafe registered 171f at the end of the brew. I tried measuring where the water comes from the “spout” & drops onto the grounds, but my temp sensor is about3 inches long, and only part of it is in the hot water (intermittent) stream. For what it’s worth, I measured 184f there.

    • Aloha Rich I think you may want to prewarm your carafe by letting it sit with some hot water in it, then pouring out the water and brewing. On your brewing temperature it sounds close. Run a “brew” without grounds and without the basket, that way you can get to the water. You will probably have a small flood but you can use a bowl or do it in the sink. Mahalo Karen

  5. I am writing a blog article about my quest for the perfect coffee maker. May I link to your site? This page was indirectly responsible for the awesome coffee brewer I just bought.

  6. I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good. I don’t know who you are
    but definitely you’re going to a famous blogger if you are not already ;) Cheers!

  7. The article says, “If you use a drip coffee maker, take a meat thermometer and place it under the water discharge head on your coffeemaker. It should read close to 200F. If you can’t get to the head, check the temperature of the coffee coming out of the filter. It should be about 160F.”

    If you can’t reach the head, why not just run the brewer without any coffee grounds and check the temperature of the hot water as it comes out the drip spout?

    There’s no need to buy a $200 coffee brewer. I suggest you buy a cheap brewer at a store with a good return policy and check the temperature this way before brewing any coffee. If it fails the temperature test, just pack it up and bring it back to the store. Happy brewing!

    • Of course. Good alternatives. However, there will be a drop in termperature in the brew basket. So add a factor for the drop in temperture. If you are going to take the coffee pot back, make sure you go to a store that will give you an easy return and don’t lose the sales slip. Thank you for your suggestions.

  8. After reading this info I checked my 7 year old Mr. Coffee,(yes, it’s STILL working!), and found the temp to be around 135 degrees. So now, when I brew coffee, I fill it with tap water, turn the output thingy to pour back into the reservoir so it “recycles” the water, getting hotter and hotter, and about 6-8 minutes later get a temp of around 200. Then I turn the output thingy over the grounds and brew away. I end up with great tasting, fully extracted coffee.

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