What Are The Fundamentals of Brewing Coffee?

Ever wondered why the coffee you brew at home doesn’t taste the same as it does at a Cafe? Well, here’s the tutorial, follow the fundamentals and you’ll notice the difference, guaranteed. To help you remember the four most important fundamentals, just remember:

Please, Go, With, the Fundamentals (P.G.W.F), Proportion, Grind, Water, Freshness.

To understand why these are important, we must first discuss one basic principle in coffee extraction (brewing):

Coffee contains about 30% soluble solids. In other words, about 30% of the total weight of ground coffee is available for extraction. However, empirical testing by the SCA (Specialty Coffee Association) and by those with dozens of years of experience cupping coffee, resulted in the conclusion that coffee tastes best when only 18-22% of the weight of the coffee is extracted.

Hence these “Fundamentals” are designed to help you control the extraction by limiting it to 18-22%. Any more and the coffee will be “over-extracted”, less and the coffee will be “under-extracted”, either case has negative results on the flavour of the coffee.

Proportion – To limit the percentage of extraction, we need to make sure the proportion of water to coffee is accurate. Too much coffee and the water will only be able to extract a smaller volume of coffee rendering it under-extracted and sour. Too little coffee and the water will extract too much, rendering it over-extracted, weak and bitter.

The proper proportion or ratio of coffee to water is 55-65 grams of ground coffee per liter of water. This roughly translates to approximately two tablespoons of ground coffee per 175ml of water.

Find more information on “Proportion” here.

Grind – A slightly more complex fundamental to explain.

“Grind”, refers to how fine, or coarse, the coffee is ground prior to brewing. The finer the grind, the more surface area of the bean is exposed to the water. Coffee should ideally be ground just prior to brewing.

Find more information on “Grind” here.

Water – Because water represents approximately 98.5% of the coffee brew, the quality of the water used for coffee preparation is very important. No matter how good the quality of the beans, bad water = bad coffee. Hence it is very important that you use high quality, fresh, filtered water.

Find more information on “Water” here.

Freshness – Freshness is one of those fundamentals that can, and should be applied to every step of the coffee process, from the green bean, through roasting fresh, to brewing it fresh. The importance of freshness cannot be overstated.

Because coffee is “Hygroscopic”, little can be done to prevent the CO2 from developing in the bean and removing the flavour and aroma along with it (True, it can be slowed down using a flavour lock seal, but it cannot be stopped). Hence, great care should be taken to ensure freshness at every stage to deliver you the best cup possible.

Find more information on “Freshness” here.

There you have it. These are the fundamentals to brewing a great cup of coffee at home, or anywhere really!

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