Does Coffee Burn You? (Shocking)

Usually, hot coffee is served at 170O F or 76O C. This temperature can give you 2nd-degree burns or 3rd-degree burns. That’s the sole reason you will see the word Caution written on your coffee cup when you get it from Starbucks or Dunkin. Typically, you need to let it cool a bit and then drink according to your heat tolerance.

Many people around the world are habitual of hot coffee. This is most prominent during Autumn and Winter times when those pumpkin spiced lattes are all the rage. Every nook and cranny is filled with its aromas.

Though it is a wonderful cozy time, the hot temperature can lead to severe burns in your mouth and throat. Hot coffee generally is served at 170O F or 76O C.

The milk or cream can bring down the temperature but you should wait at least 10 minutes to bring it to a little above room temperature before taking a sip.

Otherwise, you can face burns in your mouth, throat, stomach, and your tongue. And unfortunately, if it gets spilled on your clothes you can get 3rd-degree burns within seconds with temperature starting from 156O F or 68O C as it hits your skin to lowering down as it burns to 133OF or 56O C within 10 seconds

But let’s find out a bit more about this whole scenario.

What Temperature Does Coffee Burn At?

While brewing coffee, the temperature should not exceed 205OF or 96OC. Otherwise, the coffee will taste burnt and acidic. You need to be careful of this while making your coffee.

Coffee making is an art. And the only difference that makes a good cup of coffee into an excellent cup of coffee is the temperature.

It is vital to brew it at an optimum temperature otherwise it can either be flat or burned. Though it seems simple, everyone can not pull off a great brew. Each time you make coffee at home it’s not the same as the last cup. It’s not bad but a little different.

That’s the reason we go to the professionals (coffee shops) for our daily cuppa. There are other reasons too, I mean the various flavors, different options – you cannot fully replicate this at home. Plus, time is also saved early in the morning while you are rushing for work.

The point here is that nailing the temperature every single time can be a bit difficult. The coffee grounds should be at room temperature for the brewing. And the water which you will use should be between 195O F (86O C) to 205OF (96oC).

If the water is above 205O F (96OC) the coffee grounds will scald leaving a burnt taste with acidic and bitter notes. No matter how expensive or what quality the grounds are, the temperature will ruin the grounds.

Can Coffee Beans Get Burnt?

The roasting process of coffee beans can burn them if done incorrectly. Higher temperatures than usual or prolonged hours of roasting can burn the whole batch of coffee beans.

The coffee beans are not like this when harvested. They are seeds of a flowering plant. They are very hard with almost no smell to them. These seeds are green in color with woody and grassy flavor profiles.

This raw coffee bean is harvested from the coffee cherry. This cherry is a fruit and inside are the coffee beans. These seeds or coffee beans are collected and the fruit is discarded. From here the coffee beans are ready to get roasted.

the coffee fruit from which the coffee beans are extracted.

It is here that coffee beans easily get burned. Typically, for successful roasting, the coffee beans should be roasted at 370oF to 470oF or 187oF to 243oC. Also, the coffee beans need to be in motion, unlike popcorn.

The gases get released from the beans and popping noises can be heard. Though the popping of a coffee bean is similar to popcorn, its sound is way quieter.

Also, the beans start changing color from yellow to brown to dark brown depending on what result is required and for how much time they have been roasting. You can read this article I wrote about how to roast coffee beans at home if you’re interested in learning more.

I have prepared a table to explain all kinds of roasts and the temperature to give you a clearer picture.

Roast NameRoast TypeRoast Temperature
Cinnamon RoastLight Roast196oC / 384oF
New England RoastLight Roast205oC / 401oF
American RoastMedium Roast210oC / 410oF
City RoastMedium Roast219oC / 426oF
Full City RoastDark Roast225oC / 437oF
Vienna Roast Dark Roast230oC / 446oF
French RoastDark Roast240oC / 464oF
Italian RoastDark Roast245oC / 473oF

You can also watch this video giving more insight on roasting types.

This video explains everything in detail.

Is Boiling Water Too Hot For Coffee?

Water boils at 100oC or 212oF Typically boiling water can burn your coffee. Maintaining the water temperature at 95oC or 203oF is the key.

An important part of the coffee world is the aroma and the flavor profile. Without these two being in the limelight you can’t discuss coffee.

Each aroma and flavor is evident at different temperatures and the time it took to brew the coffee. On average the boiling point of water is the temperature that can burn the coffee grounds.

But since 95oC and 100oC are not so far apart, why does the coffee go from being good to burn within a mere difference of 5 degrees?

The answer relies on the time or the way it is brewed. You see, coffee grounds are very complex. For example, a high-quality coffee ground like Arabica should not be brewed for long.

Whereas, a regular coffee ground like Robusta comparatively can be brewed for more time.

Some people add coffee grounds to hot water and let them boil together. This gives a light sweetness with an acidic taste like Greek Coffee.

If boiling water was added to the grounds but for a longer time the taste would totally change. Even though the two ingredients and their respective temperature are the same, the taste deciding factors are the brewing time and the method of brewing.

This study shows what exactly I mean here. Furthermore, if boiling water is added straight into the coffee the taste can become burned and bitter. So, play safe and brew your coffee below 100oC or 212oF to not risk ruining your morning cup of joe.

As a bonus, I have listed the brew temperatures for various flavor profiles because everybody cannot be satisfied with one temperature.

  • For people who like sweet and rounded taste but with bitter notes, brew coffee at 155OF to 175OF or 68OC to 79OC.
  • For people who enjoy acidic, sharper, and brighter coffee 120OF to 140OF or 48 OC to 60OC.
  • For people who like the kick you get from hot temperature of coffee, brew your coffee at 180OF or 82OC.

Can You Burn Coffee In The Microwave?

If you are heating the water for making coffee in the microwave, there are fewer chances that the water will burn your coffee. But if you’re reheating your coffee it can taste bad and maybe burn your coffee.  

Heating water in the microwave for your coffee is not a bad idea. It is simple.

Just heat water and add your coffee to it. Your coffee would be ready instantly. But if you are thinking about reheating your coffee, a microwave might not be the best solution.  Generally, aromas and tastes are so volatile that the flavor perception is easily altered by temperature.  

Coffee is not meant to be reheated in the first place. The chemical profile changes once it is reheated whether on the stove or a microwave. The coffee gets oxidized therefore the change of taste and smell.

But microwaving makes these changes too intense. These changes occur rapidly in a microwave oven as compared to a stove. The organic molecules of coffee start changing and oxidizing once the reheating in the microwave starts. The aromas get lost and it makes coffee taste bitter. This bitter taste is lingering and gives an awful taste to your mouth.

two cups of cappuccino with an open book and some scattered coffee beans

Why Does Coffee Taste Burnt?

Many factors make a cup of coffee taste burnt. The brewing temperature, the already burned coffee beans, and the time of brewing. All of these are closely related to making coffee taste burnt.

Coffee can taste as if it was brewed in the sun. That is because a lot of factors contribute to making it taste that way. Firstly, if the coffee beans were roasted at a very high temperature, the ground of these beans can taste bitter and burnt.

The batch of these beans should be discarded. This happens when a very dark roast is required but the beans have crossed the roasting mark and are literally burnt.

Secondly, if the coffee was brewed at a higher temperature than recommended the coffee grounds would scorch in the heat and would end up being burnt. Prolonged brewing time can make your delicious coffee taste horrible.

Thirdly, if your coffee ground is too fine and the water is flowing at a very slow speed it can burn the grounds easily. The heat from the water will burn the finer grounds faster than you think.

Lastly, check that the frothed-up milk in your coffee is not burned. The steamed or frothed milk can get burned because of its high-fat content. This can end up making your coffee taste burnt.

How Do You Fix Burnt Coffee Taste?

Sadly, there is nothing much that can be done to save your coffee that has been burned. A new cup of coffee is the only solution.

For some reason, if your coffee is tasting burnt, there is nothing much you can do about it. Upon determining the reason as to why it tastes the way it does, you cannot reverse those effects. But you can be cautious and careful for the future.

If the problem was the over-roasted coffee bean, try getting a medium roast. But if you roast at home, roast a small batch next time so that you have more control over the temperature.

But if the problem was in the brewing, grind your coffee ground a bit coarser to avoid the water from burning the fine ground. One tip to keep in mind is that keep your appliances clean. Some leftover grounds can also make the fresh batch taste brunt.

Final Thoughts

Coffee is closely related to taste and aroma. Though most coffee shops have a caution sign on the serving cups, be careful and let it cool for a bit to avoid any burning on your tongue or inside your body.

But if you make your coffee at home, and it tastes burnt, be careful of the temperature of the water. Also, keep in mind what coffee grounds you are using to prepare your espresso.

Like tea, the temperature at which it is served or brewed can dramatically affect the outcome. So, do not reheat the coffee or consume burnt-tasting coffee.

The oxidization would make it bitter and pathetic. Instead of finding ways to fix the already burnt tasting coffee, be careful next time. Just go and grab a new freshly brewed coffee and enjoy your day.

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Matt Marshall

As I learn more and more about coffee and coffee products I want to share all my learnings with you here on this website. I hope you find my articles useful and entertaining to read.

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