One of the most unique things about coffee is that the person brewing it can have an influence on how it eventually tastes. That’s in contrast to something like beer or wine where the only influence the end consumer can have on the taste is the temperature at which it is enjoyed. Good baristas, whether they realise it or not, have a solid understanding of the science behind making the perfect brew, which is why they’re so skilled at crafting great tasting coffee.
The numbers to making the perfect coffee brew
When it comes to creating the perfect brew, there are some scientific statistics involved:
Espresso is normally brewed at a ratio of 1 part coffee to 2 parts water (1:2)
Cafetiere and drip brews are commonly prepared at a ratios between 1:16 – 1:18.
It’s actually quite difficult to brew good coffee outside of these recommended parameters.
The science of coffee meets water
There are broadly two main methods of brewing coffee:
Fully immersing the coffee in water, where the temperature is higher, which will extract more of the flavours and other compounds from the coffee grounds. Time also plays a part; the French press is typically time-controlled in terms of how much exposure the coffee has to the water.
Allowing water to flow through the coffee: For example, with a filter, the time taken will depend on the grind size, as it is the grounds that control the flow rate. E.g. a finer grind of coffee means that the water seeps more slowly through the grounds. The right rate of pour paired with the perfect grind will result in an optimal brewing time.
Other factors to consider
Water chemistry: The mineral content in the water you’re using for your brew will have a big impact on how it tastes. Soft water tends to produce a more acidic cup but hard water can produce a chalkier cup. Many coffee professionals therefore use a quality filter system to optimise mineral content in the water.
Grinder: The size of the coffee particles will also have an impact on the brew. A consistent grind is required.
Freshness: The freshness of the coffee is another factor to consider. Freshly roasted coffee contains more volatiles and over time these escape the coffee, taking the flavour with them. Many coffee shops won’t serve coffee roasted more than four weeks ago as a result.
Coffee is one of life’s pleasures and there is a lot of science that goes into making it perfect.
Bean Smitten are a local coffee roaster based on the Kent/East Sussex Border. We focus on making speciality coffee more accessible to both consumers and independent coffee shops. Our coffee is freshly roasted, responsibly sourced and fully traceable. Grab your coffee beans and enjoy a better cup of coffee every day.