Once again, McDonald's NEVER paid anyone millions for serving coffee that was too hot

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/12/20/once-again-mcdonalds-never.html


Adam Ruins Everything is must see TV.


I’ve only seen a couple of these but really enjoy them. I also really love the production– very creative storytelling and camera work. Must be tricky to pull off and I commend them for going the extra mile for something that could otherwise be very static.


Another point in Mrs Liebeck’s favor- which was pointed out in a documentary called ‘Hot Coffee’- was the fact that McDonalds ordered workers to brew their coffee between 180 degrees and 190 degrees. Typical at-home coffee machines brew their drinks at about 30 degrees lower.

That’s great, but maybe McDonald’s wanted to make good coffee. Most actual coffee snobs brew coffee around 200°. I’m guessing you wouldn’t get the same extraction out of a 150° brew.


This is easily the most preposterous theory surrounding the case I’ve heard yet.


In the movie it shows that they were cited hundreds of times for being way over the corporate guidelines for coffee temperature.


The brew temp. wasn’t the problem. It was the hold temperature that caused the injury.


The issue isn’t brewing temp, but rather holding temp. You can brew at 200 but you don’t keep or serve it at that temp.


Hey, if you like Adam Ruins Everything you must listen to the podcast where he takes the expert guests and speaks to them for 45 minutes to an hour on the topic instead of the 30 seconds they get on the show itself. They are typically the reason the show is so good, because Adam is presenting with their help.

It adds a lot of weight and context to what the show presents, and is a terrific companion piece to the show.


Hot Coffee was a great film thorougly debunking the supposed jokey aspect of the lawsuit as well as debunking the whole notion of how “our courts are bogged down by frivolous lawsuits”. Great watching… If you want to be thoroughly passed off afterward.

Bonus: it was recomended to me by fellow mutants here.


I’m pretty sure great coffee is meant to be brewed at just below boiling, and then quickly brought down to a drinkable temperature to not mess with the flavor. McDonald’s actually did the opposite by brewing at a lower temperature (the machines themselves brew at a typical temperature) than the hot plate used to keep the coffee warm.


Again and again people tell me that what I think I know about the case is wrong, but each and every time they tell me exactly what I knew already.



You may THINK you know what you’re thinking, but that kind of hubris is exactly what we’re trying to address here.


Ah, that makes sense.

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There was evidence in the case of precisely the opposite–this temp was a way to mask the low quality they were serving.

The coffee was so hot that people couldn’t drink it for quite some time, and tended to then blame the bad taste on the fact that they had waited too long to drink it.

  1. Coffee is optimally brewed at 200-205 degrees. This is not snobbery or elitism. A basic Mr. Coffee or old stovetop percolator brews at 200 or above.
  2. When you brew yourself some coffee, it’s typical for the liquid to be at least 190 degrees when you’re done. If you spill it on yourself you would likely burn yourself.
  3. McDonalds was not serving coffee any hotter than you would frequently serve it when making it at home. In either case you obviously let it cool off before drinking it, but if you pour fresh coffee on your lap you’d get a bad burn.
  4. An “industry standard” of “hold temperature” is a completely nonsensical red herring. It’s not a law and McDonalds was serving at the same temperature you would encounter making coffee at home.
  5. The case is an excellent example of the need for tort reform. Tort reform doesn’t mean that corporations are no longer liable for their actions.
  6. This whole BoingBoing post is an excellent example of misleading slant and bias trying to obscure the truth.

You sound disappointed.


I heard McDonald’s went back to frying their apple pies after years of baking them in a misguided stab at healthiness. Now that’s torte reform I can support!


How would keeping Liebeck from being reimbursed for her medical expenses address whatever need you see with the current system?