We recently wrote a post on why you should order your coffee drinks “extra hot,” based on advice from a former Starbucks barista. She pegged the perfect coffee temperature at 180 degrees Fahrenheit.
Another coffee expert and former barista has since reached out to us with a compelling rebuttal argument, so we thought we would share.
Matthew Swenson, who has spent his entire career in the coffee industry, says ordering a coffee drink “extra hot” can degrade the flavour of the beverage, if it contains milk.
“The chemistry of milk tends to favour the 145-165 Fahrenheit range,” he said. “A properly steamed milk will have a rich velvety texture that is naturally sweet. That sweetness is coming from lactose, which is a disaccharide of glucose and galactose, naturally present in the milk.”
“As the steaming process progresses, the temperature increases and the natural lactose becomes more perceptible to our palates creating a greater sweetness. The only issue with going extra hot, is that some of these sugars begin to breakdown losing some of the natural sweetness the milk has to offer, often resulting in a thinner, dryer texture.”
Swenson says turning up the heat can also ruin the texture of the milk.
“When we begin to look at proteins within the milk, specifically whey and casein, these begin to loose stability at around 140 Fahrenheit,” he said. “Have you ever had that dry rigid foam on top of a latte? That’s the reason, they have been taken to the point of no return!”
Swenson currently works for a Brooklyn startup that sources coffee from Brazil. He was previously the director of coffee at Dallis Bros. Coffee, a 100-year-old coffee roaster based in Queens.