Coffee Extraction, The Inside Scoop

There’s nothing quite like a freshly brewed cup of coffee. The flavor is intoxicating, enticing. If you could, you’d spend the entire day savoring it.

Most people go about their lives never questioning the “magic” behind brewing coffee. They don’t wonder how their Mr. Coffee machine churns out that treasured breakfast drink. You push a button, and there’s the coffee. What’s there to think about?

There’s a science behind how a cup of coffee is made, and it’s called coffee extraction. To put it simply, coffee extraction takes the flavor out of ground beans and fuses it with water. When done well, you get something great. When the extraction doesn’t go well, well… you get a bit of a mess.

Coffee Extraction

It really comes down to what’s called under-extraction and over-extraction.

Under-extraction:  When coffee is under-extracted, it means you didn’t extract enough flavoring. This tends to give you a sour and salty flavor. Yes, coffee can taste salty! The coffee seems incomplete. It feels like it needs fleshing out.

Several things can cause this, including:

  •    Water temperature. Water should be near the boiling point when you craft coffee.
  •    Lack of water. Make sure you use just the right amount. Too little and you’ll be in trouble.
  •    Coarseness. If the ground beans are too coarse, it’s hard to get the flavor out.

Over-extraction: When coffee is over-extracted, it means you extracted too much flavoring. The coffee tastes bitter and dull, leaving you disappointed.

Several things can cause this, including:

  •    Too much water.
  •    Grinding the beans down until they basically turn into powder.

Maybe you’ll never get the perfect cup, but when you:

  •    Check the water temperature.
  •    Use a gram scale to create the best water and coffee ratio.
  •     Use fresh whole bean coffee.
  •    Practice grinding beans (where applicable).

You can’t go wrong.

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