Why You Should Order Starbucks Coffee At Kids' Temperature

If you've ever grabbed your Starbucks order in a rush and gone to take a sip right away only to burn your mouth on scalding hot coffee, you're not alone. That's because the average temperature for hot drinks at the coffee shop is between 150 and 170 degrees Fahrenheit, with its standard espresso machine steaming milk to around 160 degrees — which the baristas have to monitor like a hawk. 

If you ask for your favorite Starbucks flavored latte "extra-hot," the milk is steamed even hotter, to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. The thing is, that temperature is high enough to burn our skin. In fact, once water is heated to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, it can take only three seconds of exposure to experience a potentially serious burn (via the American Burn Association).

If you prefer your coffee a little cooler — whether because you prefer the taste, or want to drink it immediately without running the risk of burning your mouth or hands — there is a solution: Ask for it to be served at kids' temperature. This means it will be served at 130 degrees Fahrenheit, rather than 160 degrees Fahrenheit. And don't be embarrassed because some connoisseurs believe that's actually a better temperature for coffee to be served, anyway.

130 degrees Fahrenheit means a latte you can drink right away

Coffee is a complex beverage, containing over 1000 aroma compounds. A cup of coffee that's too hot isn't just a burn hazard. Temperature affects the smell, taste, and overall experience of drinking coffee, too — so ordering a latte at kids' temperature actually brings out all the flavors of the drink. And asking for the milk to be steamed at kids' temperature, or 130 degrees Fahrenheit, guarantees a drink that can be enjoyed immediately, which means no waiting around for it to cool down.

While kids' temperature primarily means lattes, it can be applied to other coffees where the milk is steamed as part of the process, such as a cappuccino, a macchiato, or a flat white. But the tip can be used for other steamed milk-based drinks at Starbucks, too, beyond coffee. 

So if you fancy a hot chocolate you can drink right away, just ask for it to be served at kids' temperature. You can even order it in a kids' size, which is served in an eight-ounce short cup, as opposed to the standard 12-ounce tall cup, if you fancy a smaller drink.

What is the best temperature to brew and drink drip coffee?

The National Coffee Association recommends that the perfect water temperature for extraction when brewing coffee is between 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit. But many people prefer to actually drink the beverage once it's cooler, around 120 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, to get the most flavor out of the coffee. 

If it's drunk above 150 degrees Fahrenheit, our taste buds aren't able to pick out the subtle tastes in a coffee; whereas below 120 degrees, we tend to feel that the drink is too tepid to be pleasurable. In fact, a 2008 study from the Journal of the International Society for Burn Injuries has shown that the optimal temperature for hot drinks such as coffee — which provides the warming, enjoyable experience we crave while minimizing the potential risk of scalding — is 136 degrees Fahrenheit. And it just so happens that coffee tastes the most flavorsome around this temperature, too.

So go ahead, order your Starbucks coffee at the kids' temperature of 130 degrees Fahrenheit, and don't worry about its name. Not only can you drink the coffee immediately, but you might just prefer it that way.