It’s true, isn’t it. Coffee does taste different – a lot different – at different temperatures. Really hot coffee tastes one way, hot coffee another, lukewarm still another, and you get still more tastes at room temperature, cold, and iced. Most folks are completely out on coffee the cooler it gets although iced coffee has a strong following. At least I know it does at my house.
From my research and experience there are two main reasons why coffee tastes different at different temperatures, especially in the low-to-high room temperature range. What one article calls the “unpleasant no-man’s-land of bitterness.”
Reason Number One is science. And Reason Number Two . . . will be discussed in our next post.
Science gives us a lot of reasons for this phenomenon of the good-to-bad-to-intolerable taste range that can be found in a cup of coffee. But we’ll focus on just four for now.
REASON NUMBER ONE: Research shows that certain taste receptors are more sensitive to taste in the 20C to 35C (68F to 95F) temperature range. But once the beverage we’re drinking goes beyond that range—hotter or colder, they aren’t telling us much of anything. So basically you taste more in that room temperature to lukewarm range than the hot and cold ranges.
REASON NUMBER TWO: When coffee is above about 76.5C (170F) our bitter taste receptors pretty much pack their bag and go home. They just don’t ‘taste’ above that temperature. If you think about this you know it is true because you’ve enjoyed a cup of coffee when it was piping hot but crinkled up your nose when you drank it at room temp because it was so bitter (especially instant coffee – yuk!).
REASON NUMBER THREE: Add to the foregoing that hot coffee is not only outside of your bitter taste receptor’s range but that it is also bombarding your other senses that affect taste, like smell, by the beautiful aroma of hot coffee as well as it’s ‘mouth feel’. These factors certainly affect your taste experience.
REASON NUMBER FOUR: Really hot coffee causes you to divide your focus on taste alone and divert some of that focus to not burning yourself. Yes, the mind focuses on the fact that this super hot cup of coffee could cause is a problem if we’re not careful so those mental gyrations dilute the overall taste experience.
Certainly there are a myriad of other scientific factors at play here but the next post will get to what I believe, and I think you will too if you experiment, is the key reason for bad tasting room temperature coffee.
You can read more on the subject by following this link (cut and paste it into your browser if it doesn’t click thru): http://www.lifeslittlemysteries.com/2277-room-temperature-coffee-taste.html