Skip to main content

Jack Merriman

Content Marketing Manager

How to Make a Coffee Hotter

For a lot of coffee shops, their regular visitors are after one thing: an actual HOT coffee. Typically the older demographics visiting a café during the day, they are seeking a hot beverage that they can sit with and enjoy for a long period of time. But why is a properly hot coffee so hard to come by? All they’re looking for is a nice cappuccino that doesn’t come Lukewarm and go cold within 5 minutes.

‘Aha!’ – says the barista. ‘Don’t they know that milk can only be steamed to 70 degrees maximum before it starts splitting and ruining the drink? How laughable, the idea that a milky coffee can be served above drinking temperature.’

Come on now. As the barista, your primary function is to serve your customer. Go out of your way to give your customers exactly what they want. Education has its place, but for the most part, your customers don’t want to receive a lecture when they complain their coffee is too cold.

In this article, we’re going to cover some of the basic tips you should implement when a customer asks for an extra hot coffee, or if your regular visitors often complain that the coffee isn’t hot enough.


Pre-heat the Cup as Best you Can

Now, pre-heating the cup is something you should be doing for every hot drink, if possible. A cold cup will immediately bring down the temperature of your finished drink and significantly reduce the amount of enjoyment time for your customers. Thankfully, the majority of espresso machines will help you a little along the process. By keeping your cups stacked on top of your espresso machine, some of which may have dedicated cup-warming functions, you’ll be able to take the cold edge off of your cups.

However, more must be done when a customer asks for an extra hot coffee. Using the hot water tap of your espresso or bean to cup machine, make sure to properly preheat the cup with hot water for at least a few seconds before pouring the drink. In testing, we found a beneficial difference of 10 degrees Celsius when comparing a room temperature cup with one that had been properly preheated for just a few seconds with boiling water.

Another, more energy efficient way of keeping your cups extra hot is to consider investing in a kitchen heating cabinet for storing a large number of cups at a high temperature. This is likely only a viable solution for sites going through enough volumes of coffee where the financial and space investment is worth it.

No matter the method, properly pre-heating your cup is not only going to ensure that the drink stays hotter for longer, but also adds the perception of an even hotter drink when the customer picks up the cup and feels the heat.

Temperature Strip or Thermometer for your Milk Jug

Steaming your milk towards the top end of its temperature but not so hot as to start affecting the flavour, is a fine line. You may have heard the tip of placing one hand on the bottom of the milk jug during steaming, and stopping as soon as the jug is too hot to touch.

This is a good rule, but you can keep steaming slightly longer than this – 70 degrees is pretty much the limit in how hot you can steam a jug of milk. To get just shy of 70 and get as much heat into your drink as possible, consider practicing with a thermometer inside the jug, or by using a jug with a heat strip on the side. Once you’re comfortable with using these aids in getting the right temperature, you’ll likely be able to get it right through practice, repetition and muscle memory.

Larger Drinks have Better Heat Retention

The title says it all here – larger drinks will stay hot for longer compared to smaller drinks. In testing, a 6oz flat white dropped to 35 degrees after 15 minutes, whereas a 12oz latte measured at 45 degrees. Where possible, consider serving a larger drink that will stay slightly hotter for longer, and give your customers more to enjoy over a longer period of time.

Suggest Water Based Drinks over Milk Based

Whereas milk can go up to 70 degrees, water can go up to 100. Whilst your coffee machine will dispense hot water that is just shy of boiling point, it will still be significantly hotter than steamed milk. An americano can therefore be served at a much hotter temperature than a cappuccino for example.

When a customer requests an extra hot coffee, it could be beneficial to suggest an americano with a splash of milk rather than a fully milk-based coffee. This can be served much hotter and will therefore stay hotter for longer too. Often, a little communication can also help you discover exactly what the customer is asking for, especially if they order something a vague such as a ‘milky coffee’.


Failing All This, Just Go Hot! 

As we said at the start, your role is to serve your customers. If it’s an extra hot coffee they want, it’s your job to make sure they get it.

If you have tried all of the tips above whilst properly steaming your milk, and your customer still comes back and asks for it even hotter, there’s only one thing left to do: make it hot.

This might go against every instinct you’ve learned as a barista, but if all else fails, this is the last option. Pre-heat the cup and take your milk up to 80 degrees, before serving it with a smile. It won’t be the most delicious drink you’ve ever served, but at this point you will have already explained this to the customer and offered alternatives. This extra hot, split milk coffee may not be to your preferences, but it will be familiar and comforting to many, so don’t stress about it. 

Need Help Serving Consistently Great Coffee?

Watch our 3 Tips for Serving High Quality Coffee Every Time!

3 Steps for Improving Coffee Shop Consistency