We all know coffee comes from a bean, but how do you control the difference between a deliciously balanced coffee, versus something that doesn’t taste right. What can help deliver a perfect, high quality coffee? Extraction!
What is extraction?
Extraction is the process of dissolving coffee soluble in water. It can be done with any device you brew coffee with whether it’s plunger, drip, or espresso machine. As a barista, your role is to provide the right amount of contact between the coffee and water, for the right length of time. If there is not enough contact, the coffee will be sour, watery or worse, overly bitter. Too much contact can make it bitter, dry or astringent. You’ll know you’ve made a balanced extraction when the coffee is sweet, clean and with little or no bitterness.
So what can affect extraction?
When it comes to preparing espresso, there are many variables that can affect a balanced extraction. The main ones to master are:
- Freshness– grind your coffee on demand!
- Dosage weight– use the same amount of coffee you brew with, and better yet, follow a recipe
- Technique– any tapping, distributing, collapsing etc. that works for you, keep it the same every time!
- Beverage weight– achieve the same amount of liquid in the cup at the end
- Grind size– the size of the coffee grounds will assist in controlling contact time
In addition, you will need to be aware of:
- Water temperature– 92 to 95 degrees is the ideal range. Once you find a good base recipe, play around with this one to see how it can impact flavour.
- Extraction pressure– 9 bar is the industry standard.
- Water Quality– maintain and change your water filters regularly. Remember 90% of your espresso is water!
Consistency is key!
As a barista your objective is to achieve consistency in your results whether it is a bad result or a perfect result. This consistency in your results tells you how good you are at controlling the variables that will impact the extraction.
If you are consistently bad in your results, don’t stress, it’s a good thing! This will help you understand what you need to adjust to deliver quality. The consistency in the results tells you that it isn’t freshness, dosage weight, technique or beverage weight impacting the extraction and results, it is something else… the grind!
Stay tuned for our next issue when we dive into grind size and adjusting equipment.
Stay consistent and happy Brewing!