We all know that glorious and wonderful feeling when the first sip of coffee in the morning hits our soul, and in the afternoon while we guzzle down our caffeine fix during breaks. That burst of perkiness and energy, though, that seems to splash on us after each gulp of this dark elixir is not the only reason why coffee is one of the most consumed beverages in the world–flavor also comes into play.
When talking about coffee flavors, the discussion isn’t limited to whether it’s Robusta or Arabica; the manner in which the coffee was made should also be considered: brewed using traditional machines, French presses, or convenient coffee pods and Dolce Gusto capsules? Even the water to coffee ratio, water quality, and coarseness of the coffee bean grind are among the elements to take into consideration.
Creating the perfect cup of coffee requires a marriage of art and science. In this article, we use science to deconstruct your cup of Joe, so we can all see the components that a beautiful piping hot cup of Italian coffee boils down to. You’re welcome.
Caffeine, a stimulant found in coffee, is responsible for the enhanced perception, mental alertness, and reduced fatigue that the coffee drinker feels almost immediately after downing a cup. Caffeine (or lack thereof) also affects the overall taste and flavor of your brew; it tastes bitter and alkaline on its own, which probably explains why a decaffeinated cup of coffee has less “kick” than a regular one.
While there are approximately 70 species of Coffea—the flowering plants that yield coffee beans—there are only two major families in the coffee market: Arabica and Robusta. Arabica normally grows in high altitude and produces a delicate cup. On the other hand, Robusta grows in lower regions and produces more caffeine than Arabica.
SluCoffee beans are best roasted somewhere around 180 and 250 degrees Celsius, for somewhere between 2 to 30 minutes. During the roasting process, fats and sugars in the coffee beans degrade, sugars and amino acids react with each other, and spark a series of chain reactions. This coffee metamorphosis results in the formation of aromatic compounds that make up the comforting scent of coffee that caresses your nostrils as you walk into your favorite coffee shop. Those compounds include ketones, indoles, phenolic compounds, lactones, aldehydes, pyrazines, esters, and benzothiazines.
This goes without saying, but always use clean water in preparing coffee. Water hardness, however, is an entirely different matter. Some claim that hard water will make coffee taste bad, but recent studies are showing that ions present in hard water, magnesium and calcium ions, in particular, are good at extracting flavor compounds in coffee beans, without altering its taste.
Grind and Time
The coarseness of the coffee bean grind and the extraction time are intricately connected. The finer the beans are ground, the more coffee goodness you’ll get out of them. Here’s a more thorough explanation: when beans are ground very finely, each tiny particle is maximized, therefore resulting in a stronger and more bitter coffee. The finely ground solids may also block the filter, thereby lengthening and getting the most out of the extraction process.
Coarser grounds, on the other hand, produce milder coffee because the hot water may not go through to the bean’s interior.
The optimum coarseness depends on the drinker’s taste, where the flow rate of the water across the coffee beans (extraction) match with the preferred caffeine and bitterness ratio.
Ultimately, when you have perfected your cup of coffee after considering the above factors, go easy on the additives (e.g. cream, sugar, and other whatnots). The optimal taste of coffee is best appreciated on its own, or–if you really must–with minimal additives.
If you want to try high quality Italian coffee in the comfort of your own home, 101CAFFE’ is your best choice. We offer a wide selection of products including coffee beans, coffee capsules, and coffee pods. Check out our online shop for a wide selection of coffee blends or single origin coffee.