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Espresso: An Art or a Science?

Espresso: An Art or a Science?

Petra Jones |

Coffee fanatics have taken their devotion to the next level. A recently published study called Systematically Improving Espresso: Insights from Mathematical Modelling and Experiment suggests a radical new take on pouring an espresso.

It’s commonly agreed that the best espressos are made from 20g of coffee in the portafilter and for the extraction process to take 15-20 seconds. This new research recommends measuring out 15g of coffee and using a coarser grind so that extraction only takes 14 seconds. This does not negatively affect the taste of the coffee; in fact the study claims this process creates complex flavour profiles, so nothing is lost despite the coarser grind.

What are the benefits?

The obvious economical benefit is that if a coffee shop is using 25% less coffee when making an espresso based drink, then they’re saving 25% of the cost spent on coffee beans. In addition, the barista will be able to make drinks faster, as it will take less time for the espresso to pour. A quicker drink turn around means more customers served, smaller queues, and happier customers.

What are the implications?

For big companies that buy their coffee in bulk and sell millions of cups a day, this could be revolutionary. The savings made by reducing the amount of coffee per cup would be immense. Even smaller, independent coffee shops will benefit from making these changes. 

However, will customers be pleased to learn that they’re getting less bang for their buck? What impact will this have on coffee farmers, who often are only getting a few pennies back from every cup of coffee sold? Can we, or should we, quantify coffee, when coffee making is viewed as an art and a skill, not a science?

Give this new method a try and let us know what you think.

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