skip to main content skip to footer

Brewing Made Easy

Coffee Brewing Made Easy

The formula for coffee and the variables that make that liquid gold in your mug.

 You’ve heard us say it a million times at this point, but here it is again, one million and one, the formula for brewing made easy:
Brewing coffee (liquid) = coffee (solid) + water + time

That is the coffee brewing formula. If you took a handful of beans and threw them in a pond and waited, you’d eventually have some version of coffee. It might have tadpoles in it, but in a very broad sense of the definition, it’s still coffee.

Of course, in a coffee shop like Parengo, we strive to make good coffee, and not just pondwater. You can hit a drive-thru at a gas station for pond water. When you want the good stuff, you come to us. So, how do we do it? Understanding the basics like what follows here will get you one step closer to brewing quality coffee at home.

Remember, coffee + water + time. Anything that seems to add to that formula is actually a variable of one of those three components. Also, any variations on one of those three parts require a change somewhere else in the formula to balance it out.

coffee mug
dripping water from the sink

Quality Ingredients

First of all, your final product can only be as good as its components. Use amazing coffee and the best water you can get ahold of, and you can hardly mess it up. If you use gross water or bad coffee, no matter how you brew it, it will still taste like the inside of a drainage pipe.

Try experimenting! Brew a cup of coffee with each of your favorite bottled water brands or try out water from different towns. The same beans brewed the same way could taste different in every town around the world just because water is the MAIN ingredient in a cup of coffee. Play around with it and see which water you like to brew with the best.

Grind Size

When we talk about grind size, we are actually talking about a variable of coffee in the formula coffee + water + time. We’re changing the coffee part of the equation, so the other parts of the equation must change accordingly. The three basic components are still the same, however.

By grinding coffee, you are increasing the surface area available for the water to soak into so that the brewing magic can happen. The smaller the grind, the more particles are made, and therefore, the more surface area there is exposed to water. Remember, the coffee formula is coffee + water + time, so changing variables like grind size requires an equal change somewhere else in the formula in the opposite intuitive direction. For example, if your grind size increases, your time may need to increase or another variable like water temperature may need to increase in order to get more extraction from less surface area.

coffee grounds
girl with a coffee mug

Temperature

First of all, your final product can only be as good as its components. Use amazing coffee and the best water you can get ahold of, and you can hardly mess it up. If you use gross water or bad coffee, no matter how you brew it, it will still taste like the inside of a drainage pipe.

Try experimenting! Brew a cup of coffee with each of your favorite bottled water brands or try out water from different towns. The same beans brewed the same way could taste different in every town around the world just because water is the MAIN ingredient in a cup of coffee. Play around with it and see which water you like to brew with the best.

Freshness

Coffee loses flavor every second that it makes contact with oxygen. Right after a roast, coffee beans emit carbon dioxide for a couple of days, which keeps oxygen away from the beans themselves, but soon, the oxygen will reach the beans, and you’ll start to notice a difference. At the VERY LEAST, try to keep your bags sealed tight once you open them. Use this clip.

This happens WAY faster as soon as you grind the beans and increase the surface area. So, ideally, you drink your coffee 4-10 days after it is roasted and 20 seconds after you grind it. Trust us, it makes a huge difference. That’s why knowing your local roaster and grinding your own beans is soooo important. Treat yourself right!

clock on a wall
assortment of coffee beans

Pressure

Common coffee pots and pour-over devices rely on gravity to finish out the brewing process, but some devices add pressure to the mix. The siphon, the Aeropress, and every espresso machine use pressure in various ways to extract more flavors from the grounds. This seems like it would be added to the basic formula – coffee + water + time + pressure – but actually, pressure is a variation of time. It’s a catalyst. By adding pressure, we decrease the time inherently – more flavor compounds are forced to extract from the coffee into the water in way less time than without the added pressure. So, the formula remains – coffee + water + time. When pressure is added, water temperature is often lowered, or, in the case of espresso, coffee grind size is drastically reduced and then tamped, so that the pressurized water must pass through the tiny grinds evenly to escape the brewing area.

Conclusion

So, what did you learn? Coffee + water + time = coffee in your cup. Tweaking each of the parts of this equation can be fun and can make you feel like a mad scientist. Try variations in each of the bazillion brewing devices. Write down your variables and results! We offer several devices in our shop, and contact us any time for recipes, or keep following our blog to learn more.