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 fifth 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.
Grind size—the resulting particle size of coffee beans after grinding.
A coarse grind creates few, but large chunks of a coffee bean. There is less total surface area and more time is required for the water to penetrate and dissolve flavor compounds. A fine grind creates many, but small chunks of a coffee bean. There is more total surface area and less time is required for the water to penetrate and dissolve flavor compounds.
Too coarse of a grind will hinder the water’s ability to dissolve a coffee’s flavor compounds. If only the most easily accessible flavor compounds are dissolved, several desirable flavor compounds will be left behind and an under-extracted brew will result.
Too fine of a grind will accelerate the water’s ability to dissolve a coffee’s flavor compounds. If all flavor compounds are dissolved, several undesirable ones will be as well and an over-extracted brew will result.
Deconstruction—to break down something broad into its component parts.
If a finishing book is the end goal, then its component parts are its chapters. A book takes a long time to read, but an individual chapter does not.
The degree to which we break down our tasks and projects can be an important factor in the timeliness and efficiency of their completion. It’s easier and faster to that it bird by bird than it is to tackle the whole forest.
Too broad of a task or project will hinder our ability to extract what we want out of it. There is also the danger of focusing too much on the deconstruction of a task, causing us to lose sight of the larger goal and extract unrelated and undesirable results.
Just as a coffee bean can be ground into smaller pieces, our projects can be broken into their component parts to best compliment our own behaviors.