There are a few things in life that cannot be ignored. For the following wisdom, however, nobody needs to have studied philosophy, but practical experience is, as always, worth its weight in gold: “Don’t drink your coffee too hot, otherwise you will scald your tongue!”
The World Health Organization (WHO), or rather its Cancer Research Agency (IARC), has classified very hot drinks like coffee as “probably carcinogenic”. At first glance, that seems worrying. Although there is no official authority to classify this news in the category of “worrying”, we would like to take a closer look at what this could mean for the coffee drinker.
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Why can hot coffee be carcinogenic?
Basically, cancer can never be traced back to a single cause, not even with hot drinks. On the one hand, genes play a role that should not be underestimated: They influence our metabolism and also the body’s ability to repair when it comes to repairing genetic damage. Gene damage happens every day while cells divide or external influences come into play, such as environmental toxins (by the way, these are not only industrial chemicals, but can also come from fungi or bacteria, i.e. from “biological” sources), but also UV radiation, Combustion residues (including from tobacco), alcohol and exposure to heat.
With regard to the latter factor, it has now been shown that drinking temperatures above 65 degrees Celsius can increase the risk of cancer of the esophagus. This doesn’t mean that everyone will develop esophageal cancer if their tongue is burned, but the risk is increased. What does that again mean? The confusing thing is always that reports on nutrition and illness say things like “Nuts protect against cancer” or “Drink wine against heart attacks” and use percentages to explain how much lower the risk of illness is if you do or do that. I do the same now, but also briefly explain what it means. Esophageal cancer accounts for about 1.4% of all cancer cases.
This makes it one of the rarer cancer cases, men get the disease slightly more often than women. Around 7 out of 100,000 people develop it in their lifetime, and alcohol and tobacco consumption are responsible for three quarters of all cases. Drinks that are too hot increase the risk by 139%. What does that mean? Instead of 7 people (the emphasis is on COULD), almost 17 people could develop this form of cancer. Risk just means that something could happen, it doesn’t have to. So to leave it at the “could”, the WHO recommends not drinking beverages hotter than 65 degrees Celsius. How can you best do that as a coffee drinker?
Hotter to comforting – take your time
The practice is a lot easier again, but we are now clarifying it in detail. Scientists from the Albstadt-Sigmaringen University of Applied Sciences and the Chemical and Veterinary Investigation Office in Karlsruhe recently published a nice study in the Nutrition Review. They examined different brewing methods and coffee black or with cold temperature milk. And also in different cups. But let’s start at the beginning. The serving temperature of coffee from portafilter machines in gastronomy is the hottest at 77 degrees Celsius, followed by 72 degrees for fully automatic machines and 72 degrees for filter machines . At home it’s the other way around: portafilter machines are at 70 ° C, filter machines at 72 ° C, pad machines at 75 ° C and fully automatic machines at 76 ° C at the highest.
What then happens in the cup or mug? In a porcelain cup, the coffee reaches 65 degrees Celsius after about 7 minutes at an initial temperature of 79 degrees Celsius. If the serving temperature starts at 72 degrees, it only takes 3 minutes. So between 3 and 7 minutes you are right if you drink the coffee. For coffee-to-go cups , it can take between 14 and 22 minutes, depending on the material.
And that’s where the bar comes into play. Namely, a cold bar at 8 degrees Celsius and a warm bar at 20 degrees. Cold milk is of course more effective, as 27 milliliters are enough to cool 150 milliliters of coffee from 75 degrees to 65 degrees and a little more of the room-warm milk: there are 34 milliliters. If the serving temperature is 85 degrees Celsius, however, 53 milliliters of cold milk and 67 milliliters of milk at room temperature are required.
Conclusion: drinking temperature of coffee
What is recommended now? If you drink black coffee from real cups , then wait a little quietly until the first sip, you don’t need to put a stopwatch next to it. Instant drinkers add a dash of milk . With coffee-to-go, you will order half coffee and half milk in the future or put it on the table for a quarter of an hour and do the chores in the meantime. In winter, the waste heat can also effectively help cold hands.