The Impact of Brew Temperature on Espresso Flavor

The Impact of Brew Temperature on Espresso Flavor


The quest for the quintessential espresso shot is a delicate dance of precision and balance, and one of the most influential yet often understated partners in this dance is the brew temperature. The temperature at which you brew your espresso can dramatically influence the flavors extracted from the coffee grounds. In this blog post, we'll explore how slight variations in brew temperature can lead to significant changes in your espresso's flavor profile.

The Science of Temperature and Extraction

Brewing espresso is a chemical reaction where hot water passes through finely-ground coffee, extracting flavors, oils, and compounds along the way. Temperature plays a pivotal role in this process, as it affects the solubility and reaction rates of these compounds.

  • Higher Temperatures: Tend to extract more quickly and can pull out more of the coffee's bitterness and acidity.
  • Lower Temperatures: Slow down extraction, potentially leading to a more sweet and delicate flavor, but risking under-extraction.

Finding the Temperature Sweet Spot

The Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) suggests an optimal brewing temperature range between 195°F to 205°F (90.6°C to 96.1°C). Yet, within this range, even a degree or two can make a difference:

  • Lighter Roasts: Often benefit from the higher end of the temperature spectrum to fully extract their complex and subtle flavors.
  • Darker Roasts: Can be brewed at slightly lower temperatures to avoid burning off the rich, chocolatey notes and to minimize bitterness.

Experimenting with Temperature

To truly understand the impact of brew temperature, experimentation is key:

  1. Start within SCA Guidelines: Begin by brewing within the recommended temperature range.
  2. Adjust in Increments: Adjust the temperature in small increments, perhaps by 1°F (0.6°C) at a time, and note the changes in flavor.
  3. Taste and Record: Keep a log of your tasting notes and temperatures to track which settings yield the best flavors for different beans and roasts.

Equipment Considerations

Not all espresso machines offer the ability to precisely control brew temperature. For those that do, such as machines with PID controllers, adjusting the temperature can be straightforward. However, for machines without such controls, preheating or cooling the portafilter and cup can help manage the brew temperature.

Brew Temperature and Espresso Recipes

When dialing in your espresso recipe, consider the brew temperature as an integral variable. Just as you would adjust grind size or tamp pressure, fine-tuning the temperature can enhance the specific qualities of your espresso shot.


The role of brew temperature in espresso flavor is both art and science. By understanding and controlling this variable, you can unlock new dimensions in your coffee and craft a more perfect cup. Remember, the best temperature for your espresso is the one that tastes right to you, so don't be afraid to explore and taste your way to your ideal shot.

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