It’s no longer much of a debate, and by writing this, I feel behind the times. As I’ve been toying at La Marzocco, I’m finally getting first-hand experience with a refractometer. Yes, this is far over-due.
What I’m finding so far is fascinating. Brewing has almost become more of a game… Catch the extraction percentage! Yesterday, I brewed 4 V60’s, each with similar pouring technique, but changing other variables, all simply trying to keep from under extracting the coffee. In the end, I landed on a cup that was quite delicious.
That’s just it. Using the refractometer helped me to achieve some of the better tasting coffee I have made in awhile. The numbers guided me to a place of deliciousness that my own palate might not have been able to achieve on it’s own. Without a more scientific guide, I’d otherwise be stuck in my own world of slightly under extracted flavors.
I’ll be honest, I’m off bar. I mean, you can find me on bar a couple days a week, maybe… But for the most part, I make coffee in a lab. That said, I know what good coffee can taste like. But just because a cup I brew isn’t perfect, doesn’t mean I’m tossing it and starting over. If it’s acceptable, I’ll generally drink the stuff and continue typing emails. However, with the refractometer, I’m already less forgiving.
I’m also surrounded by many types of coffee. Origins, roaster, blends, single origins. We’re lucky enough to have tons of coffee from many places at La Marzocco. Comparing the variables from one cup to the next, the consistencies are often minimal. Measuring extraction percentage has helped to taste coffees for their true potential.
Anyway, I know there are some out there that when it comes to the refractometer, they wanna say “Blah, blah, blah… but how does it taste?” Well, dude… it tastes good. In fact, with using numbers to guide me, I make better brewed coffee. From there, if it’s not tasting awesome, I feel like I can at least know it’s not my fault.