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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.

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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.

  9. There’s another way: Just buy a thermo-pot by Panasonic or Zojirushi, which is typically used for tea. The newer ones have four temps: 208, 190, 180, 140. The 208 water can be dispensed into a small metal pitcher, and by the time you pour it over the grounds in your manual Melitta coffeemaker ($10), you’re at or about at the optimal 200 degrees. This way you can also “wet” the grounds for 10 seconds or so before totally submerging them.

    You also can use the gizmo to make tea, hot chocolate, cup of soup, etc.

    208 (comes up to full 212 in about 10 s): herbal tea, black tea, Oolong
    190 Genmai-cha
    180 Green tea, white tea, Jasmine tea (made with white or green tea)
    140 Gyokuro (Jade Dew); also use this temp to warm up a baby bottle!

    Cheers.

  10. Correction, Bentz’ her breakthrough was the use of a paper filter, which did away with having to scrape, rinse and wring out stained cloth filters, old socks, etc. The name of the true inventor of the “pour-over” method is lost to antiquity, probably a Young Turk. Which was a good thing, because any unfiltered coffee (Greek/Turkish coffee, boiled Swedish coffee, French press etc.) is known to raise serum cholesterol levels.

  11. Gary Strader says:

    Thanks for this info. I have been trying to find the right coffeemaker for so long now. I really liked my old Mr. Coffee machine with the stainless carafe; however it was brewing way too cold, as are most of the new makers on the shelf at the local Walmart. So determined to find the right one I have been searching online, and asking various makers what their brew temperatures were for their models.

    Only here have I found the answer. Please update this list if you can.

    Thank you again.

  12. Hi there just wanted to give you a quick
    heads up. The words in your content seem to be running off the
    screen in Chrome. I’m not sure if this is a formatting
    issue or something to do with browser compatibility but
    I figured I’d post to let you know. The layout look great though!
    Hope you get the issue fixed soon. Many thanks

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