Scientifically proven: the perfect cup of coffee

If you make coffee at home, you might have been surprised at how the odd inconsistency can creep in. You might use the same blend, the same brewing method and the same quantities – so why don’t you always get the same result? Now, assistant chemistry professor Dr. Christopher Hendon has released his tips for making the perfect cuppa.

According to the scientist, who works at the University of Oregon, the main factors influencing taste are using the right type of water, storing the beans correctly and grinding them fresh. His other tips are to avoid using drip coffee pots and not to grind the beans too finely, which may have a negative impact on flavour.

US doctor finds formula for perfect cuppa

Dr Hendon said: ”My research looks at every variable that goes into making espresso coffee, from grinding and packing the ground coffee, to water pressure and mineral chemistry.”

The coffee expert’s first tip is to use hard water if possible, as the presence of magnesium and calcium relates to a stronger taste. For the freshest flavour, beans should be stored in the fridge and ground fresh every time. Using too fine a grinder can result in the grounds clumping together and not releasing the flavour fully; equally using too coarse a grind could also cause problems as the lower surface area could result in a weaker flavour. This is a fine balance, and needs careful experimentation to determine the correct level for your own palette!

How you mix the water and grounds together is the final and crucial part of the process. The water must hit the grounds uniformly and systematically so that all the grounds are equally wet. Home-brew drip coffee pots tend to channel the water through the centre of the grounds, while those on the outside remain dry.

To help test his theory, Dr Hendon enlisted the aid of a team of baristas, asking them to experiment with the size of the grounds and the ratio of water to coffee. The results were consistent coffee and a reduction in the amount of coffee beans used, which could be useful research for the catering industry. For the next stage of his research, the doctor will be examining roasting temperatures.

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