From the Wikipedia page for Liebeck v. McDonald's (the infamous hot coffee case):

Since Liebeck, McDonald's has not reduced the service temperature of its coffee. McDonald's policy today is to serve coffee at 80–90 °C (176–194 °F),[32] relying on more sternly worded warnings on cups made of rigid foam to avoid future liability, though it continues to face lawsuits over hot coffee.[32][33] The Specialty Coffee Association of America supports improved packaging methods rather than lowering the temperature at which coffee is served. The association has successfully aided the defense of subsequent coffee burn cases.[34] Similarly, as of 2004, Starbucks sells coffee at 175–185 °F (79–85 °C), and the executive director of the Specialty Coffee Association of America reported that the standard serving temperature is 160–185 °F (71–85 °C).

The accompanying citations in the article are either dead or don't contain a reliable citation for their own claim, and none of the major coffee sellers (McDonalds, Starbucks, etc.) nor the industry groups seem to have the number easily accessible.

  • The quote doesn't say it is an association's standard temperature range rather it is the industry's standard temperature range as reported by the CCAA and they probably plucked that out of thin air. Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 9:45
  • @user2617804: See the edit history. Do you have a better wording?
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 12:50
  • On a related note, the 1,000-store 85C Bakery chain says "We believe that coffee holds its flavor best at a steady temperature of 85 degrees Celsius. To us, the name 85°C symbolizes our devotion to provide coffee of the highest quality. We hope to give our customers the best drink possible." 85cbakerycafe.com/our-story Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 20:51

1 Answer 1


The Wikipedia page seems to be incorrect.

According to the Specialty Coffee Association of America's website, the ideal brewing temperature for "golden cup" standard coffee is 200°F +- 5°F (93°C +- 3°C). The PDF of this standard lists this, as well as the coffee/water ration and timing.

I can see 2 provisos in this. First, the temperature given is the brewing temperature, not the serving temperature. SCAA do not seem to mention serving temperature.

Secondly, this applies to filtered coffee. Espresso machines are not mentioned in this document. For espresso coffee, 1stincoffee recommends a temperature of 190°F to 196°F (88°C to 91°C), close to the SCAA's temperature. They also recommend a serving temperature between 160°F and 165°F (71°C to 74°C).

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .