The science behind brewing the perfect cup of joe

Many people all over the world consume at least one cup of coffee every day. So is there a science to brewing the perfect cup of joe?


Many people all over the world consume at least one cup of coffee every day, so is there a science to brewing the perfect cup of joe?

Take a look.

You probably start each morning with a cup, but what is it that makes coffee the revered beverage it's become?

World demand for coffee beans is expected to hit a record high this year, and as demand increases, so does the popularity of locally-owned coffee shops that do everything in house.

We visited two local shops to learn more about what goes into your cup of joe.

Our first stop, W.C. Clarke's The Cheese Shoppe in downtown State College.

Owner Bill Clarke comes in bright and early every weekday to roast fresh coffee beans.

Dump it in when the temperature reach 420.

When you dump, it really goes down because they're cold, and it builds its way up.

When it hits a certain temperature, got to reduce the heat.

And then, depending on the bean, I wait.

I have an internal clock.

Right or wrong, I have an internal clock.

So you're listening for -- the first crack is the bean expanding, doubling in size.

And there's a shell on it like there's a shell on a peanut, and it's tight, and it pops that shell.

So it's a question of... You might ask me one question.

I turn to look at you, and if it's at that critical stage, I missed it.

How critical is the timing?

Bill had to stop mid-interview to tend to a roast.

I'm coming. I'm coming.

He came back, though.

Then the second pop is this conversion of starches and sugars.

And the bean gets darker, and oils start coming to the surface.

And you don't want to do it too long after that because then they get dry.

To learn more about different brewing methods, we visit Rothrock Coffee, a newer coffee shop in State College whose menu offers coffee brewed a variety of ways.

We spoke to barista Joyce Yong about the different types of brews.

At Rothrock, we roast all of the coffee we serve in house, and we don't do any dark roasts.

So all coffee's before the second crack of the roast to bring out the fruitiness and good sugars and acidities of all of our coffees.

For filter coffees, which honestly is also where our coffee shines, we have a few different brew methods to bring out different flavor profiles and different bodies of the coffee experience.

Pourovers are most commonly you see the Chemex or the V60.

And the best thing about pouring over is that the way that, when you first put in the right temperature water in there, it blooms and releases that carbon dioxide, releasing all the flavors of the coffee.

And then, as you continue to infuse, the method that we use actually creates agitation or turbulence in the coffee bed.

Another brewing method offered at Rothrock is the Aeropress.

The Aeropress is a newer method accepted now and embraced by the coffee community all over the world, and it combines immersion and forced pressure brewing.

And so in how we brew, we also stir, and so we introduce that new, like, additional agitation and turbulence to the coffee brewing process.

But, yeah, it's pretty simple.

It's the world's fastest brewer.

You can get a really good cup of coffee in under a minute and a half.

You immerse, and then you invert it, and you press it, and it gives you a 240-gram cup of coffee.

And so you could do a really high recipe, like, a really high dose of coffee in to not as much water out and then brew it with a longer time so that you get a very strong concentrate of coffee out of the press.

And then just add the same amount of hot water after that to the volume of the mug, and that way, you have a full cup of coffee without having to press it all out in one press.

And so the different brew methods honestly, like, give different bodies for the coffee, and that's why certain people feel like, oh, this is a lighter coffee versus a more chalky or heavier coffee.

Might not be actually the flavor of it but just how it feels in your mouth.

With so much science involved, there's still a simple reason why we enjoy coffee so much.

Yeah, well, I mean, it tastes good.

[ Laughs ] And it's addicting, so that doesn't help that my body needs it.

Joyce believes that coffee shops have become more than just a quick stop on your morning commute.

You can curate the experience and curate the community.

And for my kind of direction in life, I feel like they're the centers of revolution, you know, like, the centers where people can tell their stories, share different opinions, yet bond over the same coffee.

When you consider all of the factors needed to brew a good cup of coffee, that's what makes it good to the last drop.