Coffee: some people say you should be an artist to make a cup of delicious coffee because the same coffee beans may taste differently in different hands.
Making a Coffee Masterpiece with Coffee Beans
Making coffee at home provides you with a great opportunity to create a masterpiece. Anything you do by hand, for example, grind coffee beans or add hot water, is always going to create a better experience.
However, it is a much more complicated affair than it may seem at first glance. After all, many people fail to make delicious coffee at home for a number of reasons.
One should know all the nuances of extracting the right components from beans to brew high-quality coffee that will not be inferior to the one you have in coffee shops. You can get an incredible result even with coffee makers under 50 since the main secret is not always about the machine.
Sometimes, the same coffee beans can taste bitter, sour, salty, or tart after brewing. It is all about extraction, the very essence of coffee making.
If you hit the correct extraction level, you will get the perfect balanced coffee that is moderately sweet, acidic, and with a hint of bitterness. If you overdo it with the extraction, chances are, your coffee will be bitter, and if the extraction is low, then your coffee will be sour.
Thus, it is crucial to do everything right to please yourself with a cup of really gorgeous coffee.
The essence of coffee extraction
Coffee extraction is a process in which water extracts soluble compounds from ground coffee beans. It is about acids, oils, sugars, caffeine, and so much more. Coffee tastes better when these substances are in balance with each other.
So, the extraction process is a magic wand that turns water and ground coffee into a delicious drink. According to Specialty Coffee Association standards, balance is achieved when you extract between 18 to 22% soluble compounds. This level is considered optimal.
But, don’t panic – you don’t need to worry about these numbers. All you need to do is focus on the taste.
Let’s say you are brewing the same coffee beans. If you end up with coffee with a high level of acidity, its extraction rate was likely below 18%, and the process hadn’t been completed.
If you taste a lot of bitterness in the coffee, chances are, its extraction rate was higher than 22%. The processes that take place during the extraction explain why the taste changes. So, you shouldn’t always blame the coffee beans!
Extraction stages: why it is important to stop brewing coffee on time
As already mentioned, water extracts substances that affect the taste of the final drink. They are extracted throughout the entire brewing time, but their amount varies depending on the stage. If you try to make espresso at different stages of extraction, you will get completely different results. The very extraction process can be conventionally divided into three phases.
1. Extraction of acids and oils from Coffee Beans
Coffee beans contain the simplest compounds in the form of malic, tartaric acids, and others, so water easily dissolves them. And since oils are hydrophobic, they are simply washed off from ground coffee. If you stop the extraction at this stage, the drink will be more acidic and herbal.
2. Dissolution of sugar
Sugars are more complex compounds, so they take longer to dissolve. The volume of the drink increases and the color becomes less saturated. If you taste coffee at this stage, the drink will be “empty,” with a feeble taste.
3. Extraction of bitter substances from Coffee Beans
Bitter substances like caffeine, melanoidins, and others are the last to go. As the volume of the coffee increases, the color becomes even less intense. If you don’t interrupt this process in time, you will get bitter coffee. Thus, it is crucial to stop the extraction in time. If you make coffee using alternative brewing methods, for example, pour over coffee vs drip, it is better to stop the water flow according to the recipe in time and pour a ready-made drink into a cup. If you are using a coffee machine, it will stop extraction by itself. You should watch the time when making coffee. The extraction process is different for each coffee preparation method. Therefore, pay attention to the recommended cooking times and try not to exceed them. Then you are more likely to get a balanced coffee flavor that contains acidity, sweetness, and a little bitterness.
How to achieve the required extraction
You should consider the coffee beans’ genetic characteristics, the temperature, composition of the water, the brewing time and method, degree of grinding, and roast for the extraction to reach the optimum level. These characteristics will help you predict the final result.
A single brewing method is not suitable for all types of coffee beans, so you should experiment to achieve the ideal result. Baristas often call this “perfecting the cup.” Their starting point is a recipe of some sort, which they later tweak by changing the number of coffee beans or the degree of grind to influence the flavor. They work on the cup until they get the desired extraction.
Besides, you can influence the extraction process using some tricks. For example, you can stir the ground coffee when brewing to enhance extraction. If you don’t like the bitter taste of ready-made coffee, you can add pure hot water to dilute it. And you can gradually add a small amount of water when using infusion methods. It allows the coffee particles to settle onto the filter before the next infusion. Thanks to this technique, the coffee tastes fresher.
And that, is how you do it. How you extract the perfect cup of coffee at home.