Extraction, strength and brew ratios, how to get your coffee right - Coffee Hit

Extraction, strength and brew ratios, how to get your coffee right

We want you to get your coffee right! When you're looking to upgrade from an instant to delicious fresh coffee, it can be difficult to know where to start. So we have broken it down for you into five simple steps to follow.

So coffee is just water and coffee.

How hard can it be?

We like simple. Simple and easy always wins. Yes, making a flavoursome brew is just water and coffee.

But if you dive a little deeper, there are quite a few variables that can affect the flavour.

Things like:

  1. Size of ground coffee pieces
  2. How hot the water is
  3. How long the water is in contact with the ground coffee for
  4. How much coffee you use
  5. How much water you use

So let's look at these variables independently and see what is best for your brewing preference.

Why does the size of my coffee grounds matter?

Firstly, always buy fresh whole coffee beans that you grind when needed.

Let's presume there are two types of coffee drinkers reading this. Espresso and pour over (or (manually brewed coffee)

  1. Espresso needs an excellent ground coffee bean. Most hand grinders and many electric grinders under £100 will struggle to produce fine enough ground coffee for espresso. If you buy coffee pre-ground, ask your roasters or look for Espresso grind. It makes a huge difference.
  2. Pour over can vary in grind size depending on the method you make your pour-over or manual brew. But as a general rule of thumb, you want a medium grind. When ground, this will look like sand. Not Brighton beach sand, but more like beautiful Caribbean island sand.

How hot does the water need to be for coffee?

So you think coffee, you feel hot water. But how hot is hot? Boiling is 100c which is too hot; it will burn the coffee. The water temperature isn't a precise requirement, but somewhere between 85 and 95c would be great. You can either boil and let it cool for 2-3 minutes or get yourself a temperature-controlled kettle for supreme accuracy.

For espresso, if you can set your temperature on your machine, then anywhere between 90 and 95c will be just fine.

How long shall I brew the coffee for?

The longer the water is connected with the ground coffee, the higher the extraction will be, which means more caffeine.

For espresso, usually, the contact time is 25-35 seconds, but this is done under pressure so this length of time is enough to get all the goodness out of the coffee.

For pour-over or manually brewed coffee, the contact time is typically around 3-4 minutes.

 How much coffee should I use for the perfect cup?

No, you don't base the amount of coffee you use on how tired you feel! ( We used to do this too!)

There are two general rules here:

  1. For pour-over or manual coffee, we recommend 60g of coffee per litre of brew. (15g per 250ml mug)
  2. For espresso, the ratio to aim for is 2-2.5 times. So if we put in 15g of coffee, we want 30-38g of espresso out. A set of scales is the must-have barista accessories for making espresso.

How much water should I use?

So, using our recommended ratio of 60g per litre, you would need 30g of ground medium coffee to make half a litre of brew in the morning with an electric coffee brewer.

Try experimenting with the ratio to see what suits your taste. For example, I prefer a double ratio, but you might like 2.5 times or 1.8 times - everyone’s taste is different.

It takes a little bit of experimenting to find out what you like. But that's half the fun. Once you find your sweet spot, you can then stumble into the kitchen and create a perfect brew on autopilot.