Hot Coffee and Cold Coffee Taste Totally Different. Room Temperature Coffee is a Whole Other Matter. What Gives? That’s What We’re Here to Look Into!
When the weather outside is frightful, coffee is so delightful! Really, what is better than a nice hot latte when you have to cross a cold parking lot or start your freezing car in the morning?
This leaves many people to wonder, do hot coffee and cold coffee taste different? To help you understand why cold, lukewarm, hot, and very hot coffee taste so different, we have created this helpful little guide.
Does extra hot coffee taste different?
Yes, very hot coffee is noticeably different tasting because the temperature of coffee has a significant impact on its flavor. Our perception of flavors decreases at certain temperatures. We can’t detect particular flavors in very hot or very cold liquids.
This means that some bitter coffee tastes are reduced in extreme temperatures. While this strange phenomenon can be explained based on the scientific nuances of our taste buds, there’s a lot more at play. Below, we will explore it all.
Why does extra hot coffee taste better?
Extra hot coffee is better tasting to some people because when the liquid reaches a temperature higher than 165 degrees Fahrenheit, many bitter flavor notes are no longer detectable to the human palate. Moreover, the rich and flavorful oils and coffee beans are reduced to a smooth, liquid consistency that dissolves and integrates with water.
So, for people who hate bitter flavors, very hot coffee may be the solution. Another good solution is selecting a pure 100% Arabica coffee blend. Arabica coffee beans are significantly less bitter than Robusta coffee beans.
A Noticeable Taste Difference: Why is Hot or Cold Coffee Great Tasting, But Lukewarm Coffee Terrible? Here are the Facts!
Everyone knows that cold coffee has a different flavor. After all, what tastes worse than a previously piping hot cup of coffee that has been sitting on your countertop for an hour?
But wait a minute, why then, does iced coffee taste great? How can a nitro brew be so delicious but a mug of hot coffee gone cold tastes stale and unappealing? Moreover, does extra hot coffee taste different, and if so, why? So many questions! Not to worry, the science of taste and temperature explains it all.
Most people agree that formerly hot coffee is nearly unpalatable at room temperature. However, there are actually many reasons that extreme temps can change the way we experience the nuances of coffee.
Intent Matters and the Way Coffee is Brewed Can Impact its Nuanced Flavors
When learning about coffee temperature flavor differences, the way coffee is brewed must be taken into account. It all comes down to the way we detect the flavors in our coffee using our taste buds. Lukewarm or room-temperature coffee, (any coffee below 75 degrees Fahrenheit but above 50 degrees Fahrenheit) is hard to drink unless it has been specifically prepared using a cold-brew method.
Why does lukewarm coffee taste bad?
The lactones in lukewarm coffee cool down quickly, leading to unfavorable tastes. According to an article from Yahoo! News, this can cause an adverse chemical reaction that makes room temp coffee taste bad.
At a mid-range, lukewarm temperature, our taste buds tend to detect more nuanced flavors. Ergo, if the coffee was brewed hot and intended to be consumed at a high temperature, the flavor degrades as the temperature drops. This results in a range of bitter or oily undertones, many of which aren’t particularly enjoyable to the human palette.
While additional flavor nuances would be a good thing if the coffee were prepared for cold brew or iced consumption, any hot-brewed coffee gone cold tends to taste stale and, well, icky. With room temp coffee, certain flavors would normally be disguised or even enhanced by the originally hot temperature.
Moreover, if coffee is brewed hot and immediately poured over ice, many of the flavor nuances are also enhanced and the oils are broken down in a way that is also tasty. Plus, at very cold temperatures (just like with very hot temps), bitter flavors are disguised better.
In addition to this, some of the oils in coffee begin to separate unfavorably at room temperature. Think about the way butter liquefies when it is hot but becomes solid when it reaches room temperature. Coffee has rich, buttery oils as well.
These oils blend much better with water when served hot. However, when hot coffee grows cold, the result is a thicker viscosity, an oilier mouthfeel, and more detectable bitter flavor notes. Not to mention the stale undertones. Yuck!
Why does coffee taste better in the morning?
That first morning cup of coffee simply hits different. But it's not all in your head! In fact, an article published by NAIM outlines just how effective morning routines can be for boosting your mood! Having a routine that includes coffee can add to the effects of a proactive mindset in the A.M.
But are there other reasons that coffee tastes better in the morning? Yes! For one thing, hot coffee can help warm you up and get your circulation going. Moreover, coffee stimulates digestion. Not to mention, breaking a fast with coffee and some protein will give you energy and a caffeine boost, and will lead to your body craving energy from coffee, and thus, its flavor notes. No wonder you wake up craving a cup of Joe or an iced latte!
Other Reasons Coffee Tastes Amazing in the Morning
Drinking coffee, or any other beverage first in the morning, cleanses your palette. When you sleep, bacteria can multiply in your mouth, leading to a bad taste that you may or may not consciously detect. Hot coffee is a great palette cleanser for many reasons. Still, drinking coffee can stain your teeth. So, after you're done with your morning brew, go brush and floss to keep those pearly whites staying pearly and white.
Can adding milk to stale or room-temperature coffee make it taste good?
Milk and cream both contain oils and fats. So, they are able to blend and bind with the oils produced by coffee beans. This means that adding milk to room-temperature coffee could, indeed, make it taste better.
However, you will still want to add fresh milk that is either hot or cold. Tepid milk tastes bad to most people. Moreover, it is still recommended to drink your coffee while it is hot for the best overall flavor experience.
What is the best way to drink cold coffee?
Some people prefer their coffee cold. This may be because of the way its acidity influences you. If you prefer cold coffee, use an "on-purpose" cold brew method to help the oils from the coffee beans better integrate into the cold water. This is better than just letting your hot coffee grow cold, a process that can cause unfavorable oil separation.
Then, you can add milk for a creamy and enjoyable beverage. If you want ice-cold coffee in a hurry, brew shots of espresso and immediately pour them over ice. After pouring them on ice, add your milk and flavorings to make an at-home iced latte.
A Fascinating Temperature Phenomenon: The Science Behind Hot and Cold Coffee Tastes
Believe it or not, the phenomenon of hot versus cold coffee flavors has been investigated thoroughly by scientists. According to leading researchers, our sensory perception systems are designed to prefer foods and beverages at specific temperatures.
We have many taste receptors in our tongues. Our taste receptors for bitter flavors are not as sensitive to bitter molecules at high or low-temperature thresholds. So, bitter flavors tend to be most palatable when served either very hot or very cold. When you think about it, it makes a lot of sense.
For example, room-temperature foods are not as appealing as steaming hot meals. Which one would you rather have, a piece of lasagna that has been sitting out for a couple of hours, or, a fresh piece of lasagna with melting cheese and steaming sauce? Do you love the taste of melted ice cream? Or, do you prefer ice cream straight out of the freezer? It's the same principle as drinking coffee. However, the differences are even more noticeable due to the fact that coffee has many bitter nuances and delicate oils.
The temperature effect is even more significant when it comes to our sweet taste receptors. Tepid temperatures may also impact the smell of certain consumable items. So, there are definitely other factors at work with room-temperature coffee. The odors of coffee can have a significant impact on how much we want to drink it too.
According to scientists that study taste perceptions at Yale University, hot coffees are more aromatic. At high temperatures, coffee beans release certain aromatic compounds that are pleasing to our scent receptors. Scent and taste often go hand-in-hand when it comes to palatability. So, hot aromatic coffee is more appealing to most people than tepid, non-fragrant coffee. For this reason, it is nearly universally agreed upon that lukewarm or room-temperature coffee isn't preferable.
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