Ever wondered if we're brewing coffee the best way? Sure, it tastes better fresh from a French press rather than instant from a packet, but what if there's an even better way?
According to Mathematicians from the University of Limerick and the University of Portsmouth, there is a better way. In order to find an answer, these researchers explored how the coffee (as we know it) is extracted from the grains when hot water is poured over the top and then through a paper filter.
On observing this process, they learned that the size of the grain and rate of the water flow were the biggest determinates in how the coffee turned out. When the water flowed quickly over larger grains, the result was a watery coffee. The fast pour didn’t allow the water to absorb enough of the coffee taste for the brew to be satisfactory.
Based on these findings, the mathematicians were able to come up with a formula for the best way to brew the most satisfying cup of coffee. The study “not only explains qualitatively why grind size [and water flow] play such important roles in determining the taste of coffee but also quantifies that relationship through formulas. These formulas could allow fine tuning the design of a coffee machine,” says Dr. William Lee, co-author of the study.
He also told BBC News that "Our overall idea is to have a complete mathematical model of coffee brewing that you could use to design coffee machines, rather like we use a theory of fluid and solid mechanics to design racing cars." Which means, this kind of scientific research could possibly be incorporated into our own coffee machines so that they make the perfect cup of joe every time, and we don’t even have to memorize any complicated formula!
The answer to making the best coffee is to have smaller grains and to allow the water to pour through at a slower pace (test it yourself with a drip filter to figure out your favorite way) so that it can extract as much of the coffee’s flavor as you need. Brilliant!