Real Life

Kevin Milne: Coffee not hot enough?

I love a hot espresso, but so often they aren’t hot to my mind. It drives me mad, but complaining is difficult, as it’s so subjective. Is there a way of telling if a coffee isn’t hot enough? And if a coffee isn’t hot enough for me, can I send it back for a hotter cup?

This is a bit like asking for steak well-done. Baristas sometimes take a rather precious view and will refuse to serve a hot, hot coffee, because it burns the milk or froth. In my view, if you ask for a hot coffee, you should be served what you want, even if it does upset the barista’s sensitivities.

There’s much on the internet about the correct temperature at which an espresso should be served, but I’m not sure that this is much use – unless you carry a thermometer with you.

The general thinking among serious coffee suppliers is that the serving temperature differs because the beans have different optimal temperatures. Some roasts prefer a cooler brew. And, for goodness’ sake, apparently

it depends how far you are above sea level.

That’s when I gave up. So I would say that there is no easy way of telling if your coffee isn’t hot enough. It’s clear from my reading that espresso shouldn’t be served “hot hot”. But if that’s how you like it, that’s how you like it.

If you consistently find that your cup is too tepid, I would suggest you always ask for an extra hot coffee. Then, if it’s not hot enough, send it back. A good café always serves it how you like it.

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