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The hospitality and food science literatures specify brewing and holding temperatures for hot beverages such as coffee, while the medical literature states that those very beverage temperatures will cause scalds and harm. These two specifications are at odds with one another, and recommend different approaches to serving and handling hot beverages. Considering the disparate standards it is interesting to note that no one has reported asking consumers of hot beverages at which temperature they prefer to consume their hot beverages. This pilot study is a first step in determining the consumer preferred hot beverage temperature. The research intent is to see if a temperature, or temperature range, can be established at which consumers drink a hot beverage, in this case coffee. The research is particularly relevant given recent litigation relative to spills and burns at foodservice operations, and subsequent changes in holding temperatures at some quick service restaurant chains. The findings suggest that the standard brewing and holding temperatures are too high for consumption, while the temperature identified as the medical literature threshold for burns is too low for consumption.


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© Elsevier. Final version published as: Borchgrevink, C. P., Susskind, A. M., & Tarra, J. M. (1999). Consumer preferred hot beverage temperatures. Food Quality and Preference, 10(2), 117-121. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.