While working from home, tea is the only motivation that keeps me going, honestly. However, what infuriates me is that my tea gets cold pretty quickly compared to a cup of coffee.
If you have faced something similar, then I am pretty sure you too are wondering, why does coffee stay hot longer than tea? What is this sorcery!
Well, it is no sorcery for sure; it’s science! Everything in this world has an explanation, and there is also a proven scientific explanation behind this. Let me first walk you through the science lane. Let’s go!
The Science Behind It
So, let’s get this straight first, there are so many varieties of tea and coffee, and the results of this question will vary on which type of tea/coffee you are consuming.
Depending on the type, the viscosity of the liquids changes, and that plays a huge part in how long the liquid can stay on the hotter spectrum.
Also, don’t forget the color. Since many people like their coffee without cream, let’s talk about that kind first, black coffee.
Black coffee is black; I mean the literal color of it. And the laws of physics states that black color tends to absorb more heat.
To be very clear, black and white are not really ‘colors’ instead, they are an accumulation and lack of every color, respectively.
So, in a sense, the darker the liquid, the more heat it absorbs and retains. Usually, we don’t see tea as black as coffee; thus, coffee tends to cool slower than tea.
How True Is This?
I already did give you an explanation for why coffee might stay hot longer than tea. However, there are so many factors that play a role that can alternate this situation.
To be candid, staying hot or staying cold are not even scientifically right gestures unless you unnaturally change the temperature; for example, you can set the temperature lower than room temperature, but that is not what happens in reality.
So, things getting cooler isn’t the correct term; things trying to reach the room temperature is. In this case, the things are tea and coffee. The rate at which they try to come back to room temperature is the event we are calling ‘cooling down.’
And this event of cooling down of liquids depends on so many things, both external and internal, that it is really difficult to hit nails on one outcome.
That is the reason why I gave you an explanation of black coffee vs. regular tea, but things might change when you add coffee to the cream.
What Is Your Liquids Vessel?
This also plays a significant part in this matter. The color, shape, and type of cup you are using are something you should check.
As I already mentioned, black or darker colors tend to absorb heat, so if you are using a black cup, the liquid inside it will probably stay hot longer.
But if you are using a white cup or a transparent cup, it may lose heat rapidly compared to a darker-colored cup.
You can notice a similar outcome in the case of a cup made of clay. Clay is known for its cooling properties. In many parts of rural India, people use clay pots to keep the water cold. It is an alternative for a fridge for them.
A similar idea goes in here too. If your cup is made of clay, chances are no matter which liquid you are drinking; it will come back to room temperature faster than any other cup.
Also, let’s let forget about our ‘to go’ cups. People who can’t start their day without coffee, please drink a cup of coffee first and then read my explanation to understand a better.
You see, many coffee shops are using these paper-made to-go cups in which coffee/tea surprisingly stays hot longer. Do you know why?
Because of their bright color and heat conductivity of paper. Paper is not a good conductor of heat; thus, whichever hot liquid you put inside struggles to get to room temperature.
And this is one of the reasons why coffee shops use this kind of paper cup to serve people who need coffee on the go. It is an environmentally friendly option, keeps the drink hot, and won’t burn your hands.
In conclusion, I don’t necessarily think there is one right answer to this question of why does coffee stay hot longer than tea? There are several explanations, and the outcome may differ depending on different variables that play a part.
But I hope my explanations suffice your thirst for knowledge. Stay curious!