How To Make A Better Cup Of Coffee With Chemistry — VIDEO
If you're anything like me, when it comes to coffee in the morning, the only thing I think about is drinking it. I have a super lax approach to brewing my coffee, and when I'm lucky enough to have someone stop at a cafe for me, I just thank the coffee gods for brewing it. In spite of the amount of coffee I consume, I rarely think about the chemistry behind the perfect cup of coffee. Luckily, the awesome people over at ACS Reactions recently released a video detailing just how chemistry affects coffee, and what you need to do to get your perfect brew.
Basically, while caffeine serves its purpose to give you energy, it doesn't really impact the taste of the coffee. To make your brew actually taste good, you need to take into account three factors: The beans, the roast, and the brewing method. Of course, these things are literally a matter of taste, and everyone has their own preferences.
However, the science behind how exactly a cup of coffee becomes well, a cup of coffee, makes a big impact on the result in your cup. I've broken down the three key elements to making an awesome cup of coffee, and you can find out the rest of the tips by scrolling down and watching the full video.
1. Don't Underestimate The Beans
Coffee lovers, rejoice! Coffee does grow on trees... Sort of. Basically, coffee beans do grow on trees, and unsurprisingly, the kind of bean you choose makes a big impact on the flavor of your coffee. Also, fun fact: Coffee beans are actually the pits of "coffee cherries," which are then dried and processed — that is, they're part of something bigger than themselves. Cool, right?
The two beans you're most likely to run into are the arabica and the robusta. The arabica variety is known for its sweeter, floral, and fruitier taste, while the robusta variety is bitterer, easier to grow, and contains more caffeine (which is the reason I sacrifice a sweet taste for a caffeine boost every morning as I hover over my coffee pot). The bright people over at ACS Reactions recommend using your beans within seven to 10 days of roasting; otherwise you risk them going stale. And there is nothing more disappointing than stale coffee, I promise you that.
2. Your Roast Choice Matters A Ton
That's right: Your choice of roast matters a lot when it comes to perfecting your cup of coffee. Generally, you're choosing a roast that's either light, medium, or dark. While this refers to the literal color of the coffee, it also refers to the taste and how it's brewed.
For light roast coffee, you take the coffee out at the "first crack." The first crack occurs when the water inside the beans reach 205 degrees Celsius, causing the bean to expand and "crack" open. Typically, light brews are more acidic, and the individual characteristics of the bean (for example, the floral or fruity scent) are the most pronounced here.
For a medium roast, the bean "cracks" a second time at around 225 degrees Celsius, which is when the bean's cell walls break completely. This results in a darker brown color and a balanced taste between the acidity and full body of the roast.
For dark roast lovers, the bean continues to brew until it becomes almost oily. At this point, you have a nice, dark brown color to your coffee. However, nearly all of your flavors come from the roast itself, and not the original beans. For this reason, dark roasts are often used in espresso.
3. It's All About The Water
Now, when I brew coffee, I estimate how much water is going into the pot just by eyeing it. However, coffee experts suggest actually measuring the water with a scale. I don't think I'll ever use a scale to measure my coffee because I'm too lazy, but I should probably come around to using a teaspoon, as they suggest as an alterantive.
It's not only the amount of water that impacts your brew, however; it's also the kind of water. Personally, I just hover over my sink and let the tap work its magic. However, the kind of water you use totally makes an impact on the taste of your coffee. In fact, many baristas actually use bottled or filtered water.
Lastly? Water temperature matters. Ideally, you want the water to be between 92 and 96 degrees Celsius. You never want to boil your water, because it's too hot and will burn your coffee.
So, there you have it, coffee lovers! Taking into account the beans, the brew, and the water quality are the three basics for making the perfect cup of coffee at home. Check out the rest of the video below to learn more about what elements go into brewing the ideal cup of coffee, and how much an impact science has on the end-result of your morning coffee fix.