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Chill coffee beans to boost brew's flavor, scientists say

"I bet we will see the impact of this paper in coffee competitions around the globe," said Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood, coffee shop owner-turned-scientist.

By
Brooks Hays
Chilling roasted coffee beans before grinding makes for a more flavorful cup of coffee, scientists say. Photo by Dima Sobko/Shutterstock
Chilling roasted coffee beans before grinding makes for a more flavorful cup of coffee, scientists say. Photo by Dima Sobko/Shutterstock

BATH, England, June 14 (UPI) -- When it comes to the art and science of brewing coffee, researchers Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood and Christopher Hendon leave no bean unturned.

Most recently, in the quest for the perfect cup of coffee, the scientists have turned their attention to temperature. Their work suggests the simple act of chilling beans before grinding may offer a more flavorful brew.

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As any coffee connoisseur can tell you, the grind is one of the most critical elements of the brewing process. Grains must be fine and uniform for maximum flavor extraction.

Colonna-Dashwood and Hendon tested how bean temperature affected the grind process and coffee flavor. Chilled grains offered greater post-grind consistency, boasting a narrower distribution of fine particles -- that is, the smallest particles were closer in size to the largest particles.

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An improved grind means a brewer can get more flavor from the same amount of coffee grains. That means a brewer can get a strong, flavorful cup in less time or with fewer grains.

"It will alter the taste, because subtle changes in particle size distributions make a huge difference in rate of extraction," researcher Christopher Hendon said in a news release. "I wouldn't be surprised if people struggled to achieve balanced extractions."

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"It could have a major impact for the industry," added Hendon, who was a PhD student at the University Bath during the study but now conducts research at MIT. "People are trying to produce a very high quality drink with really quite powerful tools and are willing to try new things."

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Colonna-Dashwood is co-owner of Colonna & Smalls, a coffee shop in Bath, England. He has previously teamed up with friend and fellow coffee fiend Hendon to find the ideal water composition for perfectly brewed coffee.

The pair's latest revelation is detailed in a new paper published this week in the journal Scientific Reports.

"The research suggests that temperature of bean needs to be more constant to help us achieve consistent grinds," Colonna-Dashwood explained. "It suggests that cooler temperatures will allow us to maximise surface area and utilise more of the coffee."

Colonna-Dashwood has previously used his exacting coffee-brewing technique and know-how to compete in the World Barista Championships. This year's competition will be held in Dublin between June 22 and 25.

"I bet we will see the impact of this paper in coffee competitions around the globe, but also in the research and development of new grinding technology for the market place," Colonna-Dashwood said.

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