Extraction Part VI: Conclusion—Metaphors

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 final post in a series examining the factors affecting extraction in coffee and what they can teach us about the daily pursuits we engage in.

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Over the past few weeks, we’ve taken a look at the five variables affecting coffee extraction: temperature, brew ratios, agitation, time, and grind size. The manipulation of these variables allows us to control the brewing process.

Parallels between these variables and the variables that impact our everyday lives can easily be drawn:Scannable Document on Jul 3, 2017, 10_31_50 PM


While the exact comparison may differ from person to person, the point is this: there are variables in our lives that we have control over, and the interaction of those variables determines the end result of our work.

Focus may be hard to conceptualize. Balance may seem difficult in practice. Curiosity may seem arbitrary or random. Whether or not these specific variables resonate with every individual is not important.

What’s important is the process of thinking about the variables we can control in our lives and how they interact with each other. Think of a set of intensity sliders that allow us to increase or decrease each variable.Scannable Document on Jul 3, 2017, 10_26_37 PMToo much or too little intensity can produce undesirable results; brewing at the extremes can lead to over-extraction or under-extraction. Working to find the optimal balance will leave us better than before.


Metaphors provide tremendous insight into our lives, and they’re beautiful because they bend. A metaphor is not an exact definition; it’s a pliable framework.

Finding metaphors that allow us to improve our understanding of ourselves and the world around us helps us lead better lives. Coffee extraction is one that resonates with me, but it certainly does not have to resonate with you.

There is no “one” perfect brew recipe, there is no “one” perfect metaphor for life, and there is certainly no “one” way to live a fulfilling life. Which metaphors work for you?