Brewing Coffee Principles

Posted on: January 2nd, 2013 by admin No Comments

There are many decision points on the path to brewing a perfect cup of coffee. Though coffee undergoes many processes before its brewed, coffee preparation is the last stage and a critical one. Unlike many other culinary products you unwrapped or uncorked, anyone can take a coffee masterpiece and destroy its flavor profile if not brewed properly.

Regardless of the brewing method you use, there are four core principles to follow:

  • Water:  Always use clean-tasting fresh cold water. You can buy spring water or filter your water but do not use distilled water. Tap water often has off-flavors that can be filtered to a good clean taste, while distilled water has no minerals which are, important for developing the coffee’s flavors.
  • Temperature: Hot water which is no lower than 195º F and not higher than 205ºF is needed in order to activate all the proper chemical reactions that release desired coffee flavors.
  • Grind: A good guideline is to extract approximately 20% of the beans’ soluble solids. Any larger extraction will lead to harsh flavors and less extraction to underdeveloped flavors. Knowing the right grind setting allows the proper steep time between the hot water and the coffee grounds. This is critical since the grind is usually the regulator of how slow or fast the contact with hot water lasts. Personal preference may result in a slightly finer or coarser grind, but the above is a good starting point.    Tip- The coarser the grind the more ground coffee should be used per cup.
  • Proportions: The rule of thumb is two tablespoons ground coffee per six liquid ounces of water.

Intensity – Coffee strength is very personal. Greater strength should be made with more coffee not with a finer grind. This will result in over-extraction. Too much water to coffee will create a diluted beverage, while too little water to coffee destroys the balance of mouth-feel and flavor and substitutes it with harshness. Perception of strength rises dramatically as beverage temperature cools. Heat closes our taste buds, desensitizing our perception when coffee is too hot. As coffee cools it reveals itself, reaching peak intensity as it nears room temperature.

There are many ways to brew coffee see coffee preparations for more details.