Art, Science, Magic, and Great Coffee

Is great coffee magical? Kind of . . . sure, why not. Is it magic? No! I was lucky to experience the emerging coffee culture in Portland Oregon and lucky enough to learn about great coffee. While it might look like tattoos, beards, and vintage flannel are requirements for an amazing cup of coffee, the truth is that magical coffee doesn’t take that much. All you need is 5 minutes, great beans, good equipment, and the right pour-over recipe.

KoHi Labs was founded on a simple principle; brew great coffee every time. That’s kind of like science. Is the experiment repeatable and does it produce the same results? If yes, your theory is proven. Pour-over coffee process can seem overly complex and  arcane.  But, good coffee is repeatable and the results are delicious. In fact, pour-over coffee, regardless of the brew method, simply adheres to eight simple concepts:

  1.  The Bean – different beans and roasts carry different flavors
  2. The Grind – different grinds allow for varying interaction with water
  3. The Temperature – temperature affects how the water interacts with the bean
  4. Pre-Infusion Ratio – the amount of water, relative to the bean amount, impacts the potential CO2 released from the bean
  5. Pre-Infusion Time – the amount of time during the pre-infusion determines how much gas is released from the bean
  6. Infusion Ratio – the amount of water, relative to the bean amount, impacts how much coffee can be derived from the bean
  7. Infusion Time – the amount of time that the water will sit in the bean, allowing flavors to leech from the bean
  8. The Filter – determines the product that will pass from the bean and water mixture, into your coffee

Simple! Right? Well, it’s mostly simple. Certainly simple enough to brew really good coffee consistently. With some basic recipe settings, good equipment, and good beans, the parameters above can be generalized to produce consistently good pour-over coffee. Well, that’s the theory.

So . . . what can push your coffee over the edge and into great-ness? Fortunately, that’s a somewhat subjective concept. If you think it’s great, then it’s great coffee. Do you like a little citrus in your coffee?  Maybe you like a more bold and nutty flavor? Changing some of the parameters alter that flavor. You can create a coffee that lands more lightly on your palate and a coffee that hits with a more bold and rich flavor . . . often from the same bean. That’s the wonderful art of coffee.  You can start with a basic recipe and alter these parameters to draw different flavors from your bean.  It’s a little science, a little art, and if done well, it seems like magic.

Or, maybe it’s just great coffee. We at KoHi Labs wanted to build a simple product that is based on a  little bit science, helps everyone become a little bit of an artist, and helps capture the magic of great coffee. We hope you enjoy our little KoHi Labs coffee timer for the iPhone .



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  1. Dear Kohi labs. Thank you!
    Can you go more into detail as to to what factors that affect the taste of the brew? I am a fan of the chemex and French press. I know darker coffee are less acidic when brewed with cooler water and coarser grinds are favorable to fine grinds with longer infusion times (to avoid too much bitterness).. What else is there? Could you create a blog that breaks down the factors and how they interact with each other?
    Thank you again for creating that great app! I use it every day.

    • Hi Daniel,

      Wow…our response is tardy! But better late than never.

      It’s a great request. Honestly, there are people more qualified than us to address that topic. We’re qualified to drink it, write code to manage complex recipes, and design UIs to keep consumers happy. Occasionally, we might venture into taste and interpretation….for fun. As you can see, we don’t have much time for blogs!

      The folks at SweetMarias have a great library of coffee knowledge. Check’em out.

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