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NOT WHAT WE WERE EXPECTING
Over here at Decision Science News, we like Engineering All The Things. Accordingly, in an obsessive coffee phase, we acquired:
- A Coffee Maker that lets us set the exact brewing temperature
- A Digital Thermometer that lets us measure drinking temperature
- A Digital Scale that lets us weigh the grams
- A Coffee Grinder that lets us set the coarseness of the grind
If you want to experiment, knock yourself out. What the figure above shows is that something around 55 grams of coffee per liter of water is considered ideal, but you can play around in the 50 to 65 grams / liter range. It’s harder to set where you want to be on the red lines without expensive equipment, but generally as you grind the coffee finer and brew longer you move up and to the right.
- Experimented with the brew temperature from 195 – 205 F (91 – 96 C)
- Experimented with the drinking temperature
- Experimented with 50 to 65 grams of coffee per liter water
- Experimented with the coarseness of the grind, burr, and blade grinders
- Experimented with methods like Aeropress, French press, pourover methods
- Even experimented with fancy coffee, filtered water, etc.
The result of all this informal experimentation on ourselves was not what we were expecting.
The result of all this experimentation was that, for overall taste, the thing that matters most is the temperature at which you drink the coffee. Given that you are making coffee with standard parameter ranges, it all basically tastes the same holding drinking temperature constant.
The effect of cooling on the taste of coffee is substantial. I am not the first one to have noticed this, but it seems to be a rather unappreciated point.
- Drink it too hot, it tastes like garbage
- Drink it too cold, it tastes like garbage
- Drink it between 130 and 140 F (54 – 60 C) and it tastes amazing
- Within normal ranges, nothing else matters much
Given our admittedly American tastes, this is how we make our coffee (because you’ve got to choose something):
- Coffee maker
- 195 degrees (low brew temps do taste a bit better, see below re: Aeropress)
- 55 grams of coffee / liter water
- Ground so it looks like what you see when opening a can of supermarket coffee
- No milk, no sugar
- Consume at 135 degrees (57 C)
Exception: In all our playing around, we did find that an Americano made using the Aeropress is an amazingly smooth cup of joe. They recommend brewing at about 170 degrees F. We also found that a lower brew temp, even with a coffee maker, does taste smoother.
But drinking temperature matters most.
Figure credit: http://www.engineerjobs.com/magazine/2013/engineering-perfect-cup-coffee.htm