What Is the Best Serving Temperature for Hot Drinks? - NYCM Insurance Blog

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Nov 4, 2022

What Is the Best Serving Temperature for Hot Drinks?

Use our Serving Temperature Guide for Hot Drinks to Avoid Burns and Potential Lawsuits

We’ve all heard horror stories about someone’s third cousin’s mother-in-law, suing a fast-food chain for spilling a scalding coffee on her lap. They always end with shocking injuries and multi-million-dollar settlements. Whether or not these anecdotes ring true, hot drinks can pose injury and cause inconvenience that everyone can relate to.

This may leave you wondering what the perfect temperature is for serving hot drinks. Have no fear as we have done the research to help you avoid toasting your taste buds this winter.  

What is the perfect serving temperature for hot drinks?

According to Dr. Fredericka Brown and Dr. Kenneth Diller, mechanical engineering professors at The University of Texas at Tyler, the optimal temperature range for serving hot beverages is between 125°F and 136°F. Their research shows that although there are varying preferences regarding the optimal temperature for beverage consumption, drinking a hot beverage outside of this range can negatively impact taste and cause physical discomfort. In some cases, drinking beverages that are above this temperature range can lead to serious burns to the mouth, tongue, and esophagus.

How can I tell if my beverage is too hot?

Knowing the optimal temperature for serving hot beverages is good information to start with, but how do you know if your drink falls within the 125°F - 136°F range? An easy answer is to invest in a small kitchen thermometer. Most superstores and major online retailers sell different models of kitchen thermometers that range in price and quality. These thermometers have several other food preparation uses, so it may be an investment worth making.

While testing the temperature of a beverage to your lips may be your first instinct, this is not recommended. This method, as previously stated, can lead to severe burns and possibly end with a visit to the doctor.  If you do not already own a  kitchen thermometer and you do not plan to purchase one, we recommend waiting for your beverage to cool before taking that first sip. 

What is the best way to cool down hot drinks?

The brewing temperature for coffee and other hot drinks is often much higher than the recommended serving temperature. Because of this, cooling is an essential step in making most hot beverages. While many people will instinctively blow on their drinks, research has shown that this is an inefficient method of lowering the temperature of liquids. The best method for rapidly cooling drinks is to leave them out without a lid. However, if you use this method, it is important that you take the proper safety precautions. Be sure to keep uncovered hot beverages out of reach of small children and in an area where they cannot be easily spilled. Adding ice is also a useful method but can change the flavor of your drink.

How do I keep my drinks at the perfect temperature?

Maintaining the temperature of your hot drink can be a balancing act. Luckily, there have been several advancements in beverage containment technology.  Many modern thermoses and mugs let very little heat escape by creating a vacuum that is insulated with copper plating and stainless steel. This makes it so that you can simply pour your drink into the container just as it reaches the perfect temperature range and keep it on hand for hours without having to reheat it.

Whether you’re a business owner who serves coffee for a living or a parent preparing hot chocolate for your child, taking into account the temperature of beverages is an extremely important safety precaution. This how-to guide offers a little bit of insight into how to best serve hot drinks for any occasion.  Check out the link below for more lifestyle and safety tips!