Extraction Part IV: Time

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 fourth 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.

Temperature, agitation, brew ratios, and grind size are variables which we can directly affect, though we often need tools and technology to do so.

•We can alter the temperature of our water by applying more heat or allowing it to cool.
•We can alter the ratio of coffee to water by adding more or less coffee.
•We can alter the amount of agitation by increasing or decreasing the frequency of our pouring and stirring.
•We can alter the surface area of our coffee by changing our grind size.

The very nature of each of these variables allows them to be altered. The fact that these variables can be easily manipulated is what differentiates them from time.

Time itself cannot be altered; time will pass regardless of what we do. We can only alter what we do with our time.

While the amount of time in which water is in contact with coffee can be controlled, time itself trudges onward.

While the amount of time that we spend working on a project can be controlled, time itself halts for nothing.

It is often best to accept time for what it is and focus on the things we have control over: temperature and focus, ratios and balance, agitation and curiosity.

The beauty and burden of time is its unrelenting march forward. We may not be able to change time, but we can change what we do with our time.


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