Coffee temperatures and the McDonald’s case

by Walter Olson on March 14, 2011

A survey by Tampa’s ABC Action News confirms a point often made by Ted in this space: “The Liebeck case did little, if anything, to alter the manner in which fast food restaurants serve coffee.” [Nick Farr, Abnormal Use]


1 No Name Guy 03.14.11 at 4:07 pm

From the Tampa ABC article:
Start Quote from Story
Carl Borchgrevink is a Professor at Michigan State University, who conducted 2 studies on hot liquids being served thru quick service windows after the landmark McDonald’s case of a woman who burned herself with hot coffee.
In Carl’s opinion, “195 to 205, which is often the recommended temperature to get the maximum extraction of coffee, if they wish to brew it at a slightly lower temperature you need to use more coffee. So there is, in fact, an economic argument.”
End quote from story.

No Carl Borchgrevink. You’re deliberately misstating the facts, are ignorant, or just plain wrong . Take a coffee class. 195 to 205 is not about MAXIMUM extraction, it’s about the BEST extraction – to get the best QUALITY of coffee.

I wonder – professor of what? He certainly flunked Coffee 101.

2 Ron Miller 03.14.11 at 4:15 pm

This is a false conclusion, right? Because it has stayed the same that means that the lawsuit had no impact. Maybe it would be higher if not for the lawsuit.

I don’t have an opinion on what impact this 17 year old claim had. I think it would be insane for 99.9999% of us to even guess. But I’m confident this “not exactly scientific” study would prove nothing even if it were a scientific study.

3 Smart Dude 03.14.11 at 6:54 pm

I love the phony testimony-for-hire expert witness industry.

There is are insanely over-paid bogus “experts” for every class action scam.

4 kat 03.14.11 at 11:09 pm

Whenever this case comes up, I wonder if the verdict would have been the same if the jury had been served with 140 degree coffee (before cream or sugar added).

5 William Nuesslein 03.17.11 at 10:06 am

Gosh, Ron Miller, how can the temperature be appreciably greater than 195-205 when water boils at 212?

6 Commentor 03.17.11 at 7:43 pm

Anecdotally, my experience is that McDonald’s coffee is not as hot as it used to be. I remember McDonald’s being considerably hotter than their competitors.

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