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What is a Coffee Refractometer and How Does It Work?

Posted by Bean & Bean on
What is a Coffee Refractometer and How Does It Work?

An essential tool in the quest for the best possible coffee, a coffee refractometer helps identify extraction levels and caffeine concentrations in any cup. This tool is part of a scientific instrument series that creates data points based on how light refracts through a liquid.

A refractometer helps to zero in on high-quality products with precision. Coffee experts use refractometers to verify if a certain coffee meets consumer expectations, especially when it comes to top-grade beans.

what is a coffee refractometer

How to use a coffee refractometer

Coffee refractometers are relatively easy to use. Although you should refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for your preferred product, the following generalized steps can help you measure your coffee efficiently.

1.Place a few drops of coffee into the refractometer’s sample well.
2. Once the liquid is in place, a light shines up through the sample.
3. The tool will display a reading that lets you see the total level of dissolved solids.
4. Compare that information with your preferred brewing recipe to achieve the correct volume that allows for the proper extraction yield.
5.Adjust your recipe based on your taste preferences.

This process might seem extensive to brew some coffee at home, but it will create a more consistent cup each time you want one.

In commercial settings, a coffee refractometer is a fast and effective tool that delivers consistent cups to multiple customers.

what is a coffee refractometer

What is the best coffee to use with a refractometer?

You can a refractometer on any type of coffee, but the best kind to use is single-origin coffee.

Depending on the product selected, single-origin coffee might come from a single farm, a specific region, or a country where several different varieties are available.

The best example of single-origin coffee is a micro-lot product. It comes from a single field, the same altitude, or selected on the same harvest day. This coffee is considered one of the best you can purchase today because of the different attributes each one delivers.

A prime example of single-origin coffee is Santa Felisa Purple Gesha. This product gets picked from purple cherries to ensure that you receive the highest brix content. You’ll know that it is made of an appropriate quality for your preferences based on the readings provided by a refractometer.

How to brew a better cup of coffee with a refractometer

what is a coffee refractometer bean and bean

It doesn’t take much time to brew some coffee at home. You throw a paper filter into the coffeemaker, add your favorite ground beans, and let the equipment do the work.

Those steps are adequate if you don’t mind drinking an average cup of coffee. If you’re a serious connoisseur, it takes a few extra steps to achieve perfection.

The first step in the coffee brewing process is to invest in high-grade equipment. A $12 coffeemaker might help you wake up in the morning, but it won’t bring out the essence and flavor qualities of a single-origin product. We highly recommend the Hario V60 or the Aeropress, for both coffee novices and experts alike. 

Once you have the grinders, temperature controls, refractometer, brewing equipment, and your favorite coffee, the following guidelines will help you achieve an excellent cup:

▪ Only use cold filtered water to make coffee. If you don’t like the taste of water from your home tap, it doesn’t make sense to use it.
▪ Rinse your filter with hot water before starting the brewing process.
▪ Measure one or two tablespoons of ground coffee for every six to eight ounces of water.
▪ The water temperature needs to be less than boiling. If it gets too hot, allow the fluid to sit for about 30 seconds before returning to the brewing process.
▪ Add a small amount of water to the coffee grounds. They should get puffy in about 45 seconds. Then continue the brewing process to maximize the flavor profile.

 Coffee tastes better when it is consumed within 30 minutes. When you have a refractometer available to measure its quality, you’ll know for sure that there is something to enjoy in your cup. 

Looking for high quality single origin beans to enjoy? Our team of coffee experts recommend the following: 

Peru Las Damas

Indonesia Sumatra

Ethiopia Sidamo

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