Today, we're going to take a moment to think about coffee and specifically about the importance of water temperature when brewing coffee.
Not everyone considers water temperature a major element of quality control in making coffee. Nevertheless, it's an important factor in making a great cup of coffee.
Think about water percolating through coffee grounds. There are all kinds of chemical and physical reactions occurring in them. We call that process extraction. During extraction water draws out and dissolves compounds that we enjoy, like antioxidants and caffeine.
Extraction actually depends on a balance of temperature and time; higher temperatures lead to quicker extraction. The optimal range for brewing coffee is between 195 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
Water at these temperatures accelerates chemical reactions, which why hot coffee is ready in minutes.
Making cold brew coffee, however, requires a slightly different method. To make coffee this way, it's necessary to extend the time in order to get similar rates of extraction. While brewing hot coffee might only take 10 minutes or less, cold brewing takes six to seven hours because compounds in coffee take significantly more time to dissolve at room temperature.
With extraction, we would just have coffee grounds in water.
The best way to account for extraction when making hot coffee at home is to use a percolator or coffee machine that reaches that 195 degree threshold without exceeding 205 degrees. Too hot and the water will start to pull out bitter compounds that aren't so tasty.