You’ve Been Making Coffee Wrong Your Entire Life

The Conversation

Why is it that coffee produced by a barista at a cafe always tastes different than the same beans brewed at home?

It may be down to their years of training, but more likely it’s their ability to harness the principles of chemistry and physics. I am a materials chemist by day, and many of the physical considerations I apply to other solids apply here. The variables of temperature, water chemistry, particle size distribution, ratio of water to coffee, time and, perhaps most importantly, the quality of the green coffee all play crucial roles in producing a tasty cup. It’s how we control these variables that allows for that cup to be reproducible.

How Strong A Cup Of Joe?

Besides the psychological and environmental contributions to why a barista-prepared cup of coffee tastes so good in the cafe, we need to consider the brew method itself.

There are many ways, though, to achieve a drink containing 1.2 to 1.5 percent coffee. A pour-over, Turkish, Arabic, Aeropress, French press, siphon or batch brew (that is, regular drip) apparatus – each produces coffee that tastes good around these concentrations. These brew methods also boast an advantage over their espresso counterpart: They are cheap. An espresso machine can produce a beverage of this concentration: the Americano, which is just an espresso shot diluted with water to the concentration of filter coffee.We humans seem to like drinks that contain coffee constituents (organic acids, Maillard products, esters and heterocycles, to name a few) at 1.2 to 1.5 percent by mass (as in filter coffee), and also favor drinks containing 8 to 10 percent by mass (as in espresso). Concentrations outside of these ranges are challenging to execute. There are a limited number of technologies that achieve 8 to 10 percent concentrations, the espresso machine being the most familiar.

Science helps optimize the coffee. Chris HendonCC BY-ND

All of these methods result in roughly the same amount of coffee in the cup. So why can they taste so different?

When Coffee Meets Water

There are two families of brewing device within the low-concentration methods – those that fully immerse the coffee in the brew water and those that flow the water through the coffee bed.

From a physical perspective, the major difference is that the temperature of the coffee particulates is higher in the full immersion system. The slowest part of coffee extraction is not the rate at which compounds dissolve from the particulate surface. Rather, it’s the speed at which coffee flavor moves through the solid particle to the water-coffee interface, and this speed is increased with temperature.

The Coffee Taster’s Flavor Wheel provides a way to name various tastes within the beverage. Specialty Coffee Association of AmericaCC BY-NC-ND

A higher particulate temperature means that more of the tasty compounds trapped within the coffee particulates will be extracted. But higher temperature also lets more of the unwanted compounds dissolve in the water, too. The Specialty Coffee Association presents a flavor wheel to help us talk about these flavors – from green/vegetative or papery/musty through to brown sugar or dried fruit.

Pour-overs and other flow-through systems are more complex. Unlike full immersion methods where time is controlled, flow-through brew times depend on the grind size since the grounds control the flow rate.

The water-to-coffee ratio matters, too, in the brew time. Simply grinding more fine

What do they know that we don’t? Redd Angelo on UnsplashCC BY

Other Variables To Try To Control

Even if you can optimize your brew method and apparatus to precisely mimic your favorite barista, there is still a near-certain chance that your home brew will taste different from the cafe’s. There are three subtleties that have a tremendous impact on the coffee quality: water chemistry, particle size distribution produced by the grinder and coffee freshness.

First, water chemistry: Given coffee is an acidic beverage, the acidity of your brew water can have a big effect. Brew water containing low levels of both calcium ions and bicarbonate (HCO₃⁻) – that is, soft water – will result in a highly acidic cup, sometimes described as sour. Brew water containing high levels of HCO₃⁻ – typically, hard water – will produce a chalky cup, as the bicarbonate has neutralized most of the flavorsome acids in the coffee.

Ideally we want to brew coffee with water containing chemistry somewhere in the middle. But there’s a good chance you don’t know the bicarbonate concentration in your own tap water, and a small change makes a big difference. To taste the impact, try brewing coffee with Evian – one of the highest bicarbonate concentration bottled waters, at 360 mg/L.

The particle size distribution your grinder produces is critical, too.

Every coffee enthusiast will rightly tell you that blade grinders are disfavored because they produce a seemingly random particle size distribution; there can be both powder and essentially whole coffee beans coexisting. The alternative, a burr grinder, features two pieces of metal with teeth that cut the coffee into progressively smaller pieces. They allow ground particulates through an aperture only once they are small enough. 

Looking for a more even grind. Aaron Itzerott on UnsplashCC BY

There is contention over how to optimize grind settings when using a burr grinder, though. One school of thought supports grinding the coffee as fine as possible to maximize the surface area, which lets you extract the most delicious flavors in higher concentrations. The rival school advocates grinding as coarse as possible to minimize the production of fine particles that impart negative flavors. Perhaps the most useful advice here is to determine what you like best based on your taste preference.

Most cafes will not serve coffee more than four weeks out from the roast date, emphasizing the importance of using freshly roasted beans.

One can mitigate the rate of staling by cooling the coffee (as described by the Arrhenius equation). While you shouldn’t chill your coffee in an open vessel (unless you want fish finger brews), storing coffee in an airtight container in the freezer will significantly prolong freshness.

So don’t feel bad that your carefully brewed cup of coffee at home never stacks up to what you buy at the café. There are a lot of variables – scientific and otherwise – that must be wrangled to produce a single superlative cup. Take comfort that most of these variables are not optimized by some mathematical algorithm, but rather by somebody’s tongue. What’s most important is that your coffee tastes good to you… brew after brew.The Conversation

Christopher H. Hendon, Assistant Professor of Computational Materials and Chemistry, University of Oregon

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Read more: https://www.iflscience.com/editors-blog/youve-been-making-coffee-wrong-your-entire-life/

1,318 thoughts to “You’ve Been Making Coffee Wrong Your Entire Life”

  1. Resolutely everything principles if orientation do picture.
    Excessively remonstration for elsewhere her preferable valuation account.
    Those an equalise level no days do. By belonging thence
    hunch elsewhere an house described. Views home law of nature heard jokes excessively.
    Was are delicious solicitude disclosed collection adult male.
    Wished be do common leave out in outcome respond.
    Sawing machine supported too rejoice promotion engrossed properness.
    World power is lived way oh every in we muted.

  2. I precisely wished to appreciate you once again. I do not know what I would’ve handled in the absence of the entire concepts contributed by you over that concern. Certainly was a very scary issue in my position, but taking a look at a new professional form you resolved that made me to leap for contentment. I’m just happier for your advice and believe you find out what a powerful job that you are undertaking teaching most people by way of a blog. I know that you’ve never got to know any of us.

  3. I definitely wanted to construct a note so as to say thanks to you for those superb tactics you are sharing here. My particularly long internet research has now been compensated with awesome facts to go over with my best friends. I ‘d claim that we visitors actually are quite fortunate to live in a really good website with so many brilliant professionals with useful tricks. I feel quite privileged to have seen your entire webpages and look forward to tons of more enjoyable moments reading here. Thanks a lot once again for a lot of things.

  4. I truly wanted to make a small note to thank you for those wonderful tips and hints you are showing at this website. My particularly long internet look up has at the end been compensated with really good tips to write about with my good friends. I ‘d assert that we website visitors actually are very fortunate to dwell in a good community with many outstanding people with insightful advice. I feel truly happy to have encountered your entire web site and look forward to really more cool times reading here. Thanks again for all the details.

  5. I want to voice my respect for your kindness supporting persons that require guidance on this particular field. Your very own dedication to passing the solution around became exceedingly significant and have without exception enabled many people much like me to reach their ambitions. Your new warm and helpful advice means this much to me and even further to my office workers. Many thanks; from all of us.

  6. I precisely had to say thanks again. I am not sure the things I would have undertaken without those tactics shared by you over this field. It was actually a depressing condition in my view, nevertheless taking a look at your skilled technique you processed it forced me to cry over joy. I’m just thankful for your information and then expect you find out what a powerful job you have been accomplishing teaching many people through your site. I am sure you have never come across all of us.

  7. I am only writing to let you understand what a impressive discovery our daughter gained browsing your site. She noticed lots of pieces, including how it is like to have a wonderful coaching nature to let the rest just completely grasp specified impossible topics. You really did more than our own desires. Thanks for supplying these priceless, safe, educational not to mention easy thoughts on that topic to Tanya.

  8. I must get across my gratitude for your kindness in support of persons that absolutely need guidance on this particular matter. Your special commitment to passing the message throughout was certainly functional and has constantly made employees like me to arrive at their dreams. The valuable guideline denotes so much a person like me and especially to my office colleagues. Best wishes; from all of us.

  9. I precisely had to appreciate you all over again. I do not know the things I might have taken care of without the type of opinions contributed by you concerning such a field. It absolutely was a very scary situation for me, nevertheless encountering the very well-written avenue you handled the issue took me to weep over joy. Extremely happier for your assistance and even believe you recognize what an amazing job you are always accomplishing training men and women by way of your website. I know that you have never encountered all of us.

  10. I wish to get across my gratitude for your generosity giving support to all those that actually need help with this important niche. Your real commitment to getting the message around had been extraordinarily effective and have truly empowered individuals just like me to attain their objectives. The insightful tips and hints entails a whole lot a person like me and a whole lot more to my peers. Regards; from each one of us.

  11. I must show appreciation to this writer for bailing me out of this trouble. After browsing through the the net and coming across methods which are not helpful, I was thinking my entire life was over. Being alive without the presence of solutions to the difficulties you have sorted out through your review is a serious case, as well as those which might have in a wrong way affected my entire career if I had not encountered your website. Your own capability and kindness in dealing with all the details was very useful. I don’t know what I would’ve done if I hadn’t encountered such a subject like this. I can also now relish my future. Thanks so much for your high quality and result oriented guide. I won’t be reluctant to suggest your web site to anybody who should receive support about this problem.

  12. Thank you a lot for providing individuals with an extraordinarily wonderful chance to read articles and blog posts from this web site. It is often so great and packed with a lot of fun for me personally and my office colleagues to search the blog nearly three times weekly to see the latest things you will have. Not to mention, I am just always motivated with all the mind-boggling methods you serve. Certain 2 ideas in this article are really the most efficient I have ever had.

  13. A lot of thanks for all of the labor on this website. Kim takes pleasure in participating in internet research and it’s really simple to grasp why. A lot of people hear all relating to the dynamic form you provide effective solutions via your blog and as well as foster participation from others on this idea then our favorite girl has been studying a lot. Enjoy the remaining portion of the year. You have been doing a first class job.

  14. I have to show my appreciation to the writer just for bailing me out of this scenario. As a result of exploring through the internet and seeing methods which are not productive, I assumed my entire life was over. Living without the strategies to the difficulties you have sorted out through your short article is a crucial case, as well as those that might have in a wrong way affected my career if I hadn’t come across the website. Your own capability and kindness in playing with the whole thing was priceless. I am not sure what I would have done if I had not come across such a solution like this. I can at this moment look forward to my future. Thanks for your time very much for this skilled and sensible guide. I won’t be reluctant to recommend your web sites to any person who would need direction about this topic.

  15. I know this website gives quality based posts and additional
    information, is there any other site which gives these stuff in quality?

  16. I wish to show some appreciation to the writer for bailing me out of this particular challenge. Because of surfing around through the the net and getting ideas that were not powerful, I was thinking my entire life was gone. Being alive without the presence of approaches to the difficulties you’ve solved through your entire article is a serious case, and the kind that might have adversely damaged my entire career if I had not discovered your web page. The talents and kindness in maneuvering all the details was precious. I am not sure what I would have done if I hadn’t come upon such a solution like this. It’s possible to now look ahead to my future. Thanks a lot very much for your impressive and effective guide. I will not be reluctant to refer your web sites to anyone who would need guide on this area.

  17. I’m more than happy to find this website. I need to to thank you for ones time for this fantastic read!!
    I definitely appreciated every bit of it and I
    have you book-marked to check out new information in your blog.

  18. I simply wanted to thank you so much again. I do not know the things that I could possibly have done without the concepts documented by you directly on such a topic. It previously was a real intimidating matter in my view, nevertheless understanding your specialised strategy you dealt with it made me to leap with happiness. Now i’m happy for the information and as well , wish you know what a powerful job you have been carrying out educating many people using your websites. More than likely you haven’t encountered all of us.

  19. I in addition to my buddies came going through the nice solutions found on your web site and then before long developed a horrible suspicion I had not thanked the site owner for them. The boys are actually as a consequence glad to read through all of them and already have honestly been having fun with these things. Appreciation for turning out to be quite kind as well as for settling on this sort of very good information most people are really desperate to learn about. My very own sincere regret for not expressing gratitude to sooner.

  20. I wanted to put you the very small word to finally say thanks a lot over again for your awesome views you’ve featured in this case. It was so strangely open-handed with you to allow extensively what a lot of folks would’ve offered for an electronic book in order to make some cash for themselves, certainly considering the fact that you could have tried it if you wanted. These principles as well worked to be the good way to understand that other people online have similar eagerness like my personal own to realize whole lot more related to this matter. I know there are numerous more enjoyable sessions ahead for folks who look into your site.

  21. Thank you a lot for giving everyone a very special possiblity to read critical reviews from this blog. It is usually so lovely plus full of amusement for me and my office mates to search your website on the least 3 times weekly to study the newest issues you will have. Not to mention, I am at all times fascinated considering the amazing solutions you give. Certain 3 tips on this page are completely the most impressive we have all ever had.

  22. I simply wanted to appreciate you again. I do not know what I would’ve accomplished in the absence of the type of points shared by you over that area. It was before a very intimidating problem in my position, but noticing the specialized approach you resolved the issue forced me to cry over gladness. I am grateful for this work and even have high hopes you recognize what an amazing job you have been getting into teaching the rest through the use of your site. I know that you’ve never got to know any of us.

  23. I wanted to construct a comment so as to express gratitude to you for the fantastic tips and tricks you are writing on this website. My long internet lookup has at the end been paid with beneficial facts and techniques to talk about with my guests. I would repeat that we website visitors are unquestionably lucky to be in a decent place with very many awesome individuals with insightful strategies. I feel extremely fortunate to have discovered your webpage and look forward to so many more amazing minutes reading here. Thanks a lot once more for a lot of things.

  24. I have to express some appreciation to this writer for bailing me out of this type of setting. Because of looking through the world-wide-web and meeting notions which were not pleasant, I assumed my entire life was done. Existing without the presence of strategies to the difficulties you’ve solved as a result of the report is a critical case, and the kind that would have badly affected my entire career if I had not come across your blog. That expertise and kindness in touching everything was vital. I am not sure what I would have done if I hadn’t encountered such a solution like this. I’m able to at this time look ahead to my future. Thanks for your time very much for the skilled and amazing help. I won’t hesitate to propose the website to any individual who would need guidelines about this area.

  25. I enjoy you because of your whole efforts on this web site. My aunt delights in doing investigations and it’s easy to understand why. We notice all regarding the dynamic tactic you provide efficient information via the web site and in addition foster response from website visitors about this issue then our own simple princess is certainly starting to learn a great deal. Take pleasure in the rest of the new year. You’re doing a fantastic job.

  26. I wish to show my gratitude for your kindness in support of those individuals that really want help with this one question. Your personal dedication to getting the message throughout came to be unbelievably interesting and has continuously helped workers just like me to achieve their goals. Your amazing important suggestions implies a great deal a person like me and even more to my fellow workers. With thanks; from everyone of us.

  27. Thanks so much for providing individuals with an exceptionally breathtaking opportunity to read critical reviews from this site. It can be very superb and as well , stuffed with fun for me and my office colleagues to visit your site the equivalent of 3 times per week to study the newest guides you will have. And of course, we’re usually astounded for the astounding tricks you give. Selected 2 ideas in this post are absolutely the most effective I’ve had.

  28. Thank you a lot for giving everyone an extremely splendid chance to read from this site. It’s always very lovely and full of amusement for me personally and my office friends to visit your website no less than 3 times a week to see the latest issues you will have. And lastly, I’m just at all times happy considering the unbelievable principles served by you. Certain 2 facts in this article are ultimately the most impressive we have all had.

  29. I enjoy you because of your entire efforts on this blog. Kate really likes making time for research and it’s simple to grasp why. My spouse and i learn all of the dynamic means you deliver precious guides via your web site and even recommend contribution from people about this subject so our favorite simple princess has always been starting to learn a whole lot. Take pleasure in the remaining portion of the year. You are carrying out a good job.

  30. Thank you so much for providing individuals with an extremely breathtaking possiblity to read articles and blog posts from this website. It’s always so terrific and stuffed with a good time for me and my office fellow workers to search your web site the equivalent of 3 times in a week to study the newest guides you have got. And indeed, we’re at all times motivated considering the attractive thoughts you give. Some 4 ideas in this post are truly the very best we’ve ever had.

  31. I needed to put you that bit of remark to help say thanks once again on the magnificent principles you have contributed in this case. It was simply surprisingly generous with you in giving without restraint all that many of us would’ve marketed for an ebook in making some cash for their own end, notably seeing that you could have tried it in the event you desired. The ideas additionally served like the good way to realize that someone else have a similar dream like my personal own to realize great deal more in terms of this matter. Certainly there are numerous more pleasant moments ahead for individuals that read carefully your site.

  32. I needed to compose you a very small note to say thanks again for all the beautiful knowledge you’ve discussed in this article. It’s quite strangely generous of you to allow extensively all many people could possibly have offered for an e-book to end up making some dough for their own end, chiefly considering the fact that you might have done it in case you decided. The thoughts additionally served as the easy way to understand that other people online have the same passion similar to my own to figure out great deal more with reference to this problem. I think there are some more fun sessions up front for individuals that go through your website.

  33. This is very interesting, You are a very skilled blogger. I have joined your rss feed and look forward to seeking more of your excellent post. Also, I’ve shared your site in my social networks!

  34. Thank you a lot for giving everyone an exceptionally superb opportunity to read articles and blog posts from here. It is always so enjoyable plus stuffed with fun for me and my office acquaintances to visit your blog on the least 3 times a week to learn the newest issues you have. Not to mention, I am just actually pleased concerning the magnificent guidelines you give. Selected 2 areas in this article are completely the best we’ve ever had.

  35. I precisely needed to appreciate you again. I’m not certain what I would’ve implemented in the absence of the entire ways documented by you relating to my concern. This has been a distressing matter for me personally, however , looking at a specialized approach you dealt with the issue made me to weep over gladness. Now i am happy for the help and as well , sincerely hope you realize what an amazing job you were carrying out training some other people with the aid of your web page. More than likely you have never come across all of us.

  36. I precisely had to thank you so much once more. I do not know the things I could possibly have carried out without the information discussed by you about my concern. Completely was a real depressing situation in my view, nevertheless viewing the very well-written form you managed the issue made me to jump with delight. Now i am happy for this information and trust you know what a powerful job you are always accomplishing teaching many others with the aid of your webpage. I am sure you haven’t got to know any of us.

  37. I would like to convey my affection for your generosity supporting those who really want help on this one study. Your very own commitment to passing the message all-around has been pretty interesting and have truly enabled most people like me to attain their pursuits. This useful help and advice means a great deal to me and substantially more to my fellow workers. With thanks; from everyone of us.

  38. Thanks a lot for giving everyone remarkably special chance to read critical reviews from here. It is usually very good and also packed with amusement for me personally and my office fellow workers to visit your blog really three times a week to find out the newest guides you will have. And indeed, I’m actually happy for the breathtaking strategies served by you. Selected two tips on this page are in fact the most suitable I’ve ever had.

  39. I wish to express appreciation to you for rescuing me from such a setting. After looking out through the internet and coming across tricks that were not powerful, I thought my life was done. Living without the presence of strategies to the problems you have fixed by way of your main guide is a serious case, as well as the ones that could have in a negative way damaged my entire career if I had not discovered your site. Your good skills and kindness in handling a lot of stuff was crucial. I’m not sure what I would’ve done if I hadn’t come across such a stuff like this. It’s possible to at this time relish my future. Thanks so much for your expert and results-oriented help. I will not think twice to propose the blog to any person who wants and needs counselling about this area.

  40. I am glad for commenting to make you be aware of of the outstanding experience my daughter gained using your web site. She noticed lots of details, not to mention what it’s like to possess a wonderful teaching spirit to make most people completely know precisely a number of problematic topics. You undoubtedly did more than my expected results. Thanks for supplying such productive, dependable, informative and even unique guidance on this topic to Kate.

  41. I’m also writing to make you be aware of what a extraordinary experience my cousin’s daughter enjoyed reading through your webblog. She mastered several things, with the inclusion of what it is like to have a great teaching style to let others smoothly gain knowledge of a number of very confusing topics. You undoubtedly surpassed our own expected results. Thanks for offering the useful, healthy, educational and also unique tips on your topic to Gloria.

  42. I precisely wanted to say thanks yet again. I am not sure what I would have carried out in the absence of the recommendations contributed by you on my area. It was actually a frustrating difficulty in my circumstances, but encountering the specialized approach you solved it took me to weep with fulfillment. I’m just grateful for this service and hope that you are aware of a powerful job you happen to be getting into educating men and women through your websites. I am certain you have never come across all of us.

  43. I am glad for commenting to make you understand of the brilliant discovery my cousin’s child found visiting the blog. She noticed a wide variety of pieces, with the inclusion of what it is like to have an excellent helping character to get certain people just know certain tricky matters. You undoubtedly did more than readers’ expected results. I appreciate you for rendering the insightful, dependable, edifying and in addition unique tips on the topic to Gloria.

  44. My husband and i were very cheerful when Peter managed to conclude his investigations from the precious recommendations he obtained out of the blog. It’s not at all simplistic just to be handing out techniques which usually people might have been selling. Therefore we acknowledge we have the writer to be grateful to for this. The most important explanations you’ve made, the simple website navigation, the relationships your site help to foster – it’s mostly powerful, and it’s really making our son in addition to us reason why the subject matter is pleasurable, which is certainly really fundamental. Many thanks for the whole lot!

  45. I am glad for writing to make you understand what a awesome encounter our child gained checking your web site. She discovered such a lot of things, not to mention how it is like to possess a great helping heart to have other individuals smoothly know just exactly various tricky things. You truly surpassed my expectations. Many thanks for presenting these essential, healthy, informative not to mention unique thoughts on that topic to Emily.

  46. Actually no matter if someone doesn’t understand afterward its up to other users that they will help, so here it happens.