Secret Ingredient Better Coffee Beans:Coffee enthusiasts have long believed that adding a little water to the beans before grinding them can make a difference. A new study from researchers at the University of Oregon appears to confirm this. The research explored how the technology, which began as an attempt to tackle the often messy process of making coffee, has affected taste.
This static charge causes the ground coffee particles to repel each other – like magnets with the same polarity – sending them in every direction. Water acts as an insulator, reducing this effect – a process known as the “Ross Drop” technique. “It was first suggested by some enthusiasts on the Home Barista Forum,” Hendon said. “This idea has been around for many years, and was originally borrowed from material production industries such as the wood pulp industry.” However, what started as a way to reduce clutter slowly turned into a more sophisticated way to get better wine – or at least people thought so.
The theory was that by reducing static electricity, the water not only prevented the ground coffee from bursting or sticking inside the grinder, but also prevented small clumps from forming during coffee brewing. Water flows around them, leaving the coffee untouched – and therefore reducing the flavors from dissolving in the liquid. The study, published Dec. 6 in the journal Matter, used more precise and rigorous testing to see the potential benefits of adding water to beans.
Secret Ingredient Better Coffee Beans Testing the ‘Ross Droplet’
The research team included two volcanologists who reused equipment commonly used to measure electrical charges in wildfires and volcanic ash. He weighs the coffee before adding the water – using a pipet to be accurate to the microgram – and then grinds it in a professional grinder, one of the fastest grinders on the market and a popular choice in coffee shops. Is. “Adding a small amount of water – a drop on top – deactivates or turns off the static charge, allowing the coffee to come out of the grinder uncharged,” Hendon said. It’s not clear what exactly the water does, but he said it probably absorbs the charge or changes the temperature inside the grinder, reducing the effect of the friction.
“If you add enough water, you can even eliminate the formation of lumps,” he said.
“Theoretically, you’ll get more extraction or less waste. And that’s exactly what happens, because now you’re creating more available surface area for the same amount of water.”
Without clumps, all of the brewing water comes in contact with the grounds, effectively reducing the amount of unused coffee and providing a more consistent brew.
The ideal amount of water can change depending on factors like the type of roast and the coarseness of the grind, so there is no one-size-fits-all rule, but on average, studies have shown that adding water increases the extraction yield.
Hendon cautions that this makes no noticeable difference in taste, but he confirms the benefits of the “Ross Droplet” technique.
“(Since the study was published) I’ve gotten a lot of emails from people telling me how grateful they are, because from a hygiene standpoint, this is a major, comprehensive update,” Hendon said.
“What I suggest for the home user is to start with a drop of water and build from there – there is a fair amount of nuance to the process.”
There’s also a problem: Water improves cleanliness regardless of your coffee-making method, but the benefits of making coffee only extend to espresso and, to a lesser extent, filter coffee.
When using a coffee machine, French press or Aeropress, nothing changes much, Hendon said, because because of the coarse grind required with these devices, “all the water is actually touching the whole coffee.”