Extraction Part III: Agitation and Curiosity

Making coffee is a relatively simple process; coffee’s flavor compounds are extracted using water as a solvent. But, we can affect the extraction rate of a coffee through five variables: temperature, agitation, time, ratio, and grind size. This is the third in a series of six posts examining the factors affecting extraction in coffee and what they can teach us about the daily pursuits we engage in.

Agitation—the introduction of turbulence to coffee grounds, usually through stirring or pouring.

Increase the agitation to improve the circulation of coffee grounds and water. As circulation improves, coffee’s flavor compounds are more quickly and easily dissolved as each particle’s total surface area is constantly exposed to circulating water.

The extraction rate increases.

As we introduce or remove agitation during the brewing process, we either aid or inhibit extraction. Too much agitation constantly exposes each particle’s surface area to circulating water, continually aiding in extraction and potentially resulting in over-extraction. Too little agitation prevents circulating water from dissolving the flavor compounds of each coffee particle, as only a fraction of surface area is exposed at one time. This inhibits extraction and results in an under-extracted brew.IMG_4089

Curiosity—the strong desire to know or learn something.

Heightened curiosity provides a source of intrinsic motivation, increasing the rate at which we move through new material. This improves our ability to extract knowledge and meaning from the work we’re doing.

Just as agitation can aid or inhibit extraction, our level of curiosity affects our work similarly. A lack of curiosity might lead us to examine only the most accessible information haphazardly, resulting in work that lacks depth or value. Too much curiosity might lead us to lose sight of the overarching goal of our work, extracting too many undesirables from one thing.

Approaching a problem with a sense of curiosity can help us extract knowledge and meaning passionately, improving the overall quality of our work.scannable-document-on-jan-27-2017-9_54_21-pm

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