How Does Temperature Affect The Coffee Drink Experience

How Does Temperature Affect The Coffee Drink Experience

Have you ever gotten a hot cup of coffee and found that the flavor and aroma were different when it cooled?

You may start to get subtle flavors and aromas that you could not taste before when this happens. Now you may find that the coffee has a distinct fruity, floral aroma or sweet.

This change in flavor is due to temperature fluctuations, which trigger specific chemical reactions that occur. To understand why and how these things happen, you need to understand the science behind them.

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How Do We Perceive Flavor And Aroma?

Coffee is a very complex beverage with over a thousand aromatic substances that are brewed and sipped to form what we perceive in our sense of smell and taste.

These aromatic substances are produced from the coffee roasting process. When the coffee beans are heated, substances such as sugars, carbohydrates, and nitrogen compounds are produced. The sugars in raw coffee beans are degraded by heating during roasting, at which point they turn caramel (producing the familiar caramel flavor) or brown through the Menard reaction.

This process produces volatile compounds that are transformed into gases that evaporate at room temperature. These flavors and aromas are felt strongly through our tongue and nose. There are various aromatic compounds associated with sweetness, with flavors ranging from chocolate aromas to fruit aromas.

The taste buds on our tongues have taste receptors for sour, bitter, and sweet flavors. These receptors respond to certain chemicals and then transmit the taste perception to our brain. Chemicals in volatile compounds are transmitted from our mouth to the nose to stimulate the postnasal olfactory system. The collection of olfactory organs in the nose is also very important for us to perceive flavors and aromas.

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When we perceive other flavors, it may be the result of the interaction of many organic acids, sugars, oils, etc. Chlorogenic acid in raw beans produces a bitter sensation, and quinic acid produces a bitter and astringent sensation.

If we drink coffee with acidity, it can increase our knowledge of acidity, and we will link these acidity and volatile compounds together when we drink, for example, linking the acid we drink with the aroma of lemon, once there is a way to link them together, the sensory ability will be enhanced.

How Does Temperature Affect Coffee Extraction?

We all know that extraction greatly affects the flavor and aroma we experience in coffee. The temperature of the water used to make coffee also has a significant impact on the extraction rate of coffee.

The molecules in coffee are extracted at different stages depending on the temperature of the water. Hot water can extract most of the compounds we feel in coffee, and the higher the temperature of the water, the easier it is to extract the compounds in coffee.

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The higher the water temperature, the more easily the compounds in the coffee will be extracted. The more these molecules interact with each other, the more extraction will occur. When it happens, water molecules will dissolve more compounds from coffee molecules, which affects the smell and taste we feel in coffee.

If we use low-temperature water extraction, we will not be able to extract the full flavor of the coffee, which contains these fascinating, volatile compounds.

However, studies have shown that this changes when coffee is brewed at low temperatures, such as when coffee is extracted at low temperatures (ranging from room temperature to zero degrees) for several hours.

This creates a complex flavor profile because this extraction method changes the balance of most compounds extracted. These include sugars, organic acids, chlorogenic acids, caffeine, and other insoluble compounds that require more extraction time.

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A long, low-temperature extraction allows the sugars to be fully extracted, giving the cold brew coffee a pronounced sweetness and a caramel-like aroma, while the coffee is less bitter and astringent.

Higher Water Temperature Will Extract Flavor And Aroma

The usual temperature for finished coffee is 82°C to 85°C. However, this temperature can be too high and cause burns, and the flavor and aroma of the coffee may not be enjoyed at this temperature range. The best way to drink coffee this way is to take a small sip or sip and inhale only a small amount of the liquid and inhale the air to cool the liquid quickly.

At this temperature, the coffee releases a lot of hot air, which enhances the aroma experienced. Still, it inhibits the tongue from feeling the taste sensation, which in turn affects the flavor sensation.

Stronger aromas are also felt at temperatures around 70°C and can last until around 60°C. It is usually harder to perceive the flavor at this stage, especially when the coffee flavor is very subtle. In fact, studies have shown that different coffees brewed at the same roast level can taste very similar at higher temperatures.

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What we perceive at 70°C may be mainly bitterness and aroma, while the flavor part is usually only roasted.

These flavors last until the coffee is cooled by another 10°C, at which temperature we may notice an increase in bitterness, and some say that the bitterness of coffee is strongest at around 56°C.

Flavors And Aromas When Cooled

At temperatures below 50°C, you will feel another significant change in the flavor and aroma of the coffee, with the aroma becoming more pronounced, mainly due to the reduction in the vapor produced when the coffee cools.

The bitterness is reduced, allowing the body to perceive more complex flavors. Between 31 and 50°C, the most flavors are perceived, mainly those related to acidity and sweetness. The sweetness is at its peak at about 44°C, while the bitterness is least noticeable at about 42°C.

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Interesting small changes can occur between 31-37°C, where the volatile compounds associated with sweetness, fruitiness, floral, herbal, acidity and nuttiness become more pronounced, and where we can really experience the flavor profile of a coffee.

The acidity is best experienced at lower temperatures (e.g. 25°C) than at 44°C or 70°C, for example, where a cup of Kenya coffee will have a more lively flavor and brighter acidity. It allows us to taste the full flavor of the single coffee and shows us that the same coffee may taste different at different temperatures and that the same cup of coffee will taste worse at higher temperatures.

Whether you like your coffee hot or cold, it's important to understand the effect of temperature on the flavor and aroma you experience.

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The next time you make your own coffee, take note of the flavors and aromas you experience at different temperature ranges and try to find the "ideal range" between acidity, sweetness, bitterness, and aroma.

This will help you figure out what type of coffee you prefer (coffees with more pronounced acidity or sweetness) or what flavor profiles you prefer in your coffee.

Whichever way you choose, you will be able to better taste the flavor of the coffee at any temperature.

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