Ideally our coffee brew cycle will take 4 to 6 minutes. That's the
amount of time required to extract the good flavors from our coffee.
Less than 4 minutes and our coffee will be underextracted. More than 6
minutes and - you guessed it - our coffee will be overextracted. [I see
you're catching on to how this all works!]
Once again, however, we find that the designers
of our home brewing equipment appear to be conspiring against us. If we load the
filter basket of a home drip brewer with ideal coffee proportions it
overflows. If we try to brew less than a full pot so that we can
use proper coffee proportions, we'll likely experience too short a
brewing cycle [while there may be plenty of coffee in the filter, the
use of less water decreases the duration of the overall brewing cycle].
Home auto-drip brewers barely reach a proper brewing
time when they're run at a full pot capacity. Some never reach it at
Other brewing methods - vacuum pot,
French press - offer much more control over the time element of
our coffee formula.
Finally, once we get our coffee in our brewing vessel of choice, we want
to make sure it doesn't just lie around being lazy... we want it to
interact with the water, so that the water can extract all of those
wonderful flavors. On auto-drip brewers a shower head delivers water in
a particular spray pattern that's intended to create whirlpools and
vortices within the filter basket. Other methods rely on you and your
trusty spoon... simply stir the brewing coffee to make sure the grounds
are suspended in the water.
Bear in mind that glass pots - vacuum pots, in
particular - can be very fragile. Vigorous stirring with a metal spoon is
not a good idea, and could lead to a coffee disaster. Instead, gently stir
with a wooden spoon, or even a lacquered wooden chopstick!
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