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Home Latest Articles Coffee Makers Kagoo Explains: Brewing a better espresso… with science!

Kagoo Explains: Brewing a better espresso… with science!

Updated 28 February 2020
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Welcome to ‘Kagoo Explains’ - this week we’ll be looking at something slightly different. This is a fresh approach to brewing coffee, using new findings from a scientific paper on espresso brewing. So brew up a cup of your favourite coffee and let’s unpack this news.

As first reported in The Guardian article 'Maths experts zero in on secret to perfect espresso', scientists have recently published a paper detailing their work in improving espresso making in commercial coffee shops - these shops brew a gigantic amount of coffee every day, so even a small increase in efficiency and reduction of waste could save a lot of money over the long term. However in researching this, they inadvertently found a better way of brewing up espresso you can use everyday!

To understand, we first have to quickly review how coffee is brewed. At its most basic, coffee is brewed by pushing water through ground up coffee beans: in doing so they absorb the taste, colour and caffeine of the coffee grounds. There are two main types of coffee - one lets the water seep through the coffee slowly, a slower method that produces a weaker, but larger amount of coffee. The other method pushes the water through at pressure - this produces a smaller, but far more potent amount of coffee. This second method is used to brew espressos, the cornerstone of Italian coffee, and the foundation for most high street coffee drinks - such as lattes, cappuccinos and macchiatos.

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For espresso brewing, since the water is pushed through at high pressure for a very short time, traditionally the coffee beans were ground as finely as possible. Barista logic stated that the smaller the particles of coffee, the more would be absorbed during the quick brewing process, meaning a stronger cup of coffee would be produced. Seems sensible, right?

However as shown in their paper 'Systematically Improving Espresso' published in the scientific journal Matter, this isn’t strictly true. Definitely, the smaller grind particles (known as 'fines' in the trade) mean more coffee grounds are absorbed, but finer grinds also bring problems. The coffee scientists found that extremely small grinds actually block up the bottom of the grind container in your coffee maker, creating an impermeable layer that prevents water from passing through - meaning a smaller amount of espresso created per shot, and more waste.

Therefore the advice from Kagoo - backed up by the newest scientific research - is that the best espressos will require a slightly coarser grind than you would normally use. If you’ve been looking at our list of best coffee grinders, try changing the size of the grind you create - make it a little bit coarser, and you will get a stronger, more even espresso.

For a better espressos, grind the coffee a little bit coarser than usual, to achieve maximum flavour and kick!

As an added bonus, the coarser grounds are better suited to multiple uses, meaning that when you brew one espresso in the morning, keep the same grounds in the machine to use for a second cup. Tastier coffee AND saving you money - what could be better?

If you’ve got a hankering for a good espresso after reading this, check out our list of our best espresso machines.

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