We've been making our coffee wrong for decades, scientists reveal

Caroline Allen
Contributor
The secret to a perfect cup is fewer beans. [Photo: Getty]

The formula to making the perfect cup of coffee has been unveiled and it’s a bit different to what we’ve been doing.

A team of scientific experts, which comprised of mathematicians, physicists, and materials experts have worked out what it takes to make the perfect cup of coffee.

We’re all ears.

The secret, according to science, is to use less beans and not to grind them so much before using them.

Most of us will grind our beans into oblivion before putting them into our cup, after all, nobody wants bits of coffee floating around in their mug.

“It sounds counterintuitive, but experiments and modelling suggest that efficient, reproducible shots can be accessed by simply using less coffee and grinding it more coarsely,” Co-senior author Dr Christopher Hendon, a computational chemist at the University of Oregon, said.

As coffee connoisseurs will tell you, using the fine grind setting on your grinder will get the perfect mix of bitterness and sour acidity.

Apparently, there’s room for improvement though and with an estimated two billion cups of coffee consumed daily globally, it’s important to get it just right.

Normally, to grind coffee for an espresso shot, the ideal scenario is to grind around 20g of coffee as finely as possible.

Scientists suggest this should be reduced by a quarter. Not only will it save us a fortune - the finest coffee beans don’t come cheap - it’ll also make your morning coffee taste better.

The trick is to not grind your beans too small. Photo: Getty

This is because when coffee is really finely ground, each sip you take might miss out some of the key flavour notes.

Coming up with this equation was not a simple task, either.

“You would need more computing power than Google has to accurately solve the physics and transport equations of brewing on a geometry as intricate as a coffee bed,” Co-senior author Dr Jamie Foster, a mathematician at the University of Portsmouth, said.

It sounds technical.

The research has come at a pivotal time. From a sustainability point of view, the coffee industry is facing threats from climate change. Cutting down the waste and getting more from each bean would play a pivotal role in the future of the industry.

“There is a tremendous dependency on the preferences of the person producing the coffee; we are elucidating the variables that they need to consider if they want to better navigate the parameter space of brewing espresso,” Dr Hendon concluded.

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