Water extraction is essentially the process of how water takes the coffee out of the coffee bean and makes coffee. It’s super important, but few people actually know what it is. You may know that your slow drip coffee maker has a setting that changes “strength” of the coffee flavor, and a number of other things. But what does that actually mean, and how can you use that to get a better cup of coffee?
There are 2 ways to mess up water extraction with your coffee. Either you over extract, or you under extract.
If you are under extracting coffee there are a few signs to look for: does your coffee lack any sweetness (when it’s served black, of course)? Is there no after-taste? Does it have a sour gross taste? If you answered yes to any of these, chances are you should be trying to get more from your coffee from your coffee beans.
But, you’re just as likely to try and get every last drip from a coffee bean and are perhaps over extracting. Signs of this are an overly bitter taste, a hollow empty taste, or a dry feeling on your tongue. Think of overboiling something- all of the little subtle flavors are being killed off, and you’re either left with bitter shells, or an overall empty feeling.
You should be able to pull out the various complexities of your coffee, if it is done correctly. Now, some methods do not lend themselves to changing its water extraction. Pour-over, for instance, lends itself to under-extraction, but so many people tend to add sugars and whatnot to their coffee that this method is generally the easiest way to introduce someone to the subtleties of coffee flavors without making it a milkshake. And, on the other side of the spectrum, we have espresso machines that need to be finely-tuned. So, keep that in mind when determining how to change your water.
Coffee is most certainly an acquired taste, but if you ease yourself into it and have high quality coffees like those that we offer, and learn to taste drinks properly, then you’ll really start to appreciate the hidden complexities that a great coffee bean has to offer.