The present study aimed to investigate coffee flavour perception and release as function of serving temperature to support standardisation in the specialty coffee branch. The coffee cultivar Bourbon Caturra was evaluated at six serving temperatures ranging from 31 °C to 62 °C. Coffee samples were analysed by dynamic headspace sampling gas chromatography–mass spectrometry and descriptive analyses using sip-and-spit tasting. The release of volatiles followed mostly the van’t Hoff principle and was exuberated at temperatures above 40 °C. Aliphatic ketones, alkylpyrazines, some furans and pyridines increased most notably at temperatures ⩾50 °C. The changes in volatile release profiles could explain some of the sensory differences observed. The flavour notes of ‘sour’, ‘tobacco’ and ‘sweet’ were mostly associated with the coffees served at 31–44 °C, whereas coffees served between 50 °C and 62 °C exhibited stronger ‘overall intensity’, ‘roasted’ flavour and ‘bitter’ notes.