Science 3 min read

Researchers Create a Mathematical Model for the Ideal Coffee

A team of multidisciplinary researchers from 5 countries developed a mathematical model to make the perfect-tasting, ideal coffee.

Evgeny Karandaev / Shutterstock.com

Evgeny Karandaev / Shutterstock.com

A team of researchers has created a mathematical model for the ideal coffee. The new approach not only makes our favorite brew more consistent and enjoyable, but it also offers environmental benefits too.

Multidisciplinary researchers from five countries teamed up on the project. Along with coffee enthusiasts, the team consists of chemists, mathematicians, and material scientists.

The researchers wanted to know if there’s a way to optimize the coffee-brewing process. So, they analyzed a 20-gram portion of coffee grounds, similar to ones used in espresso makers around the world.

Aside from grind size, the team also considered the water pressure that the espresso machine creates, as well as the flow rate. Finally, the researchers had to measure the number of grounds that goes into each brew.

With their knowledge of electrochemistry, the team observed how caffeine and other molecules dissolve out of the grounds. Then, they used the information to develop a mathematical model for testing and predicting the metrics of different brewing methods.

The multidisciplinary team published their findings in the journal Matter. Here’s what they discovered.

A Mathematical Model For the Ideal Coffee

For their analysis, the researchers calculated the extraction yield for various brewing methods. This refers to the number of solid coffee grounds that end up in the cup as a liquid.

Findings from the study suggest that using less coffee leads to a higher yield. What’s more, the yield remained consistent with minimal changes in the flavor profile.

In a statement, one of the researchers, a chemist from the University of Oregon, Christopher Hendon explained:

“The real impact of this paper is that the most reproducible thing you can do is use less coffee.”

The researchers suggested using 15 grams (0.53 oz) instead of 20 grams of coffee and grinding your beans to make it more coarse. Yes, the resulting shot could run fast, taking 14 seconds instead of 25 seconds.

However, the researchers point out that you’ll end up extracting more positive flavors from the beans.  That way, the strength of the cup remains consistent, and bitter, off-tasting flavors wouldn’t make it into the cup.

While the idea of the perfect-tasting, ideal coffee is subjective, the impact on the environment is not.

Environmental Impact of Coffee Processing

Wastes from coffee processing plants make their way to rivers to create pollution and contamination problems. Processing 547,000 tons of coffee in Central America generated roughly 1.1 million tons of pulp, and polluted 110,000 cubic meters of water each day, over six months in 1988.

Expectedly, the pollution could lead to eutrophication of the water systems, killing aquatic plants and animals. Meanwhile, the researchers’ mathematical model reduces the use of coffee grounds by as much as 25 percent.

That means coffee shops in the U.S. will not only use fewer coffee beans, but they also save up to US$1.1 billion.

“We want to extract more from the coffee to save money and be sustainable, but we also want it to taste delicious, not burnt or bitter,” says Hendon. “Our method allows us to accomplish that.”

Read More: Researchers Reveal Why We Love Coffee and Beer

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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