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“Higher extraction isn’t always more delicious. I’ve had plenty of espresso at lower extraction that are delicious”

A delicious high extraction, and a delicious low extraction are not mutually exclusive.

Higher extractions and TDS aren’t ab aim. They’re an effect.

It’s all to do with evenness of extraction. I’ve written thousands of words on this. Look here, here, here and here if you want to learn about how an even extraction will improve things for you.

In short: with all other variables static (same dose, yield, time ect,) a more even extraction will result in a higher extraction yield.

So, the aim isn’t a higher extraction, it’s a more even extraction. And the easiest way to spot a more even extraction in a side-by-side test is an increased TDS and therefore extraction yield. Don’t confuse the two!

“Our goal in the specialty coffee industry is not to yield a higher TDS. Our job is to make amazing coffees for customers”

This is almost the same thing, but I put is here to drive the point home. When hunting for evenness, TDS is a proxy for extraction so it’s really the same thing.

These three statements will serve well anyone looking to improve their coffee:

+ A more even extraction is a more delicious extraction

+ A higher extraction that tastes great is a more even extraction

+ A higher extraction is not necessarily a more delicious extraction.

“It is shame to see lot of barista being driven by numbers”

This is just straight up anti- intellectualism.

It’s wondrous to see so many baristas around the world embracing measurement and consistency! I remember my first WBC in Bogota, where half the competitors were using scales to measure their espresso and that was revelatory. Look where we are now!

+ Do you deride your accountant for being driven by numbers?

+ Would you prefer that the manufacturers of your seatbelt?

+ Do worldwide companies known for exceptional customer satisfaction reject their Net Promoter score and rely on vibes?

+ Would you prefer your coffee farmer put down the moisture meter and just send you coffee she feels is amazing?

Being driven by numbers is admirable. Never let anyone tell you otherwise.

“We will not use refractometers to dictate what we should serve our customer”

The classic I have no idea what this thing does argument, aka willful ignorance aka tactical stupidity.

Facts do not cease to exist when you ignore them. Every coffee you make for your customers sits at a certain strength and level of extraction. Why not track it and learn?

Refractometers don’t dictate what you should serve, they just help you track and understand what you’re serving. If your coffees aren’t tasting great and a refractometer indicates your strength and extraction are lower than when it was previously delicious, is that refractometer telling you to increase them? No. it’s telling you what’s different, and you’ve learnt why.

A refractometer is a quantitative tool. It doesn’t have sick days, palate fatigue, or bias. It also can’t tell you what’s delicious or otherwise.

Your tongue is a qualitative tool. It can detect thousands upon thousands of nuances and knows exactly what delicious is (sometimes). It has bad days, is wildly affected by your biases, and can’t be quantified.

Use just one, and you’re blind. Use them together, and you have the best of both worlds!

Sensory Lab has collectively saved hundreds of thousands of dollars through the use of refractometers in our roaster, café, and customer’s venues. We’ve improved roast consistency and solubility, inter-venue consistency, inter barista consistency, equipment choice and servicing, and just straight up deliciousness of our coffees. All through the use of refractometers. You’d be a fool not to employ them wherever possible.



Source: Coffee t&i Magazine

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