What are the 3 T's of brewing specialty coffee? Temperature, Time and Turbulence

What Are the 3 T’s of Specialty Coffee? A Quick Guide to Temperature, Time and Turbulence

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Brewing the perfect cup of coffee is no easy feat. It’s both a science and an art, influenced by a whole range of variables that impact the taste, depth and quality of every drink you create. While brewing coffee can be casual, attention should be paid to the 7 factors of coffee brewing. These include grind size, coffee-to-water ratio, water quality, filtering materials and the 3 T’s.

In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at the 3 T’s – temperature, time and turbulence – and how they can contribute to a higher quality brew. If you monitor these variables and follow the recommended guidelines to perfection, you’ll master the art of specialty coffee in no time at all. 

Keep reading to learn more about the 3 T’s and what they mean for your brewing process.

What Are the 3 T’s of Brewing Specialty Coffee?

The 3 T’s are a series of factors that can be utilised and varied in order to achieve the most flavoursome and well-developed specialty coffee. While everyone’s perfect cup will taste different, it’s vital to understand the 3 T’s and how they impact your brew.

Temperature

Creating instant coffee, tea and other hot beverages requires at least some attention paid to temperature, but it’s absolutely essential for specialty brews in particular. As a general rule of thumb (SCA), your water temperature should be between 92 and 96 degrees celsius.

It’s ideal within this range that water-soluble flavour compounds dissolve at their best because relative solubility changes at different temperatures.

The higher the water temperature, the higher extraction rate that occurs, resulting in a stronger coffee – assuming all other parameters are the same. Since particles generally dissolve or extract better at higher temperatures, cooler water has the possibility of under-extracting your coffee. This can lead to an unpleasantly acidic flavour profile.

On the other hand, higher temperatures can over-extract your coffee which normally results in a bitter taste. As we’ve demonstrated, it’s clear that temperature can have a significant impact on the flavour of your brew. While there are some exceptions to the rules, these are the general guidelines you should follow regarding temperature. Investing in a digital thermometer or electric kettle to work alongside your kettle is the ideal solution.

3 T's of Specialty Coffee | Temperature | THE COFFEE GOODS

Time

Creating specialty coffee is all about completing the brew cycle. At the beginning of the process, the coffee extracts appear dense and dark in colour. As extraction continues, it becomes less concentrated and lighter in colour. By the time the brew cycle is complete, the extract is pale and looks similar to water. 

As you can tell from the brew cycle, extraction is important. This is why time plays such a crucial part in the process. When water makes contact with coffee grounds, it extracts and dissolves soluble flavour compounds. The amount of time they have to interact will determine the depth you can achieve when it comes to taste. 

The hand drip coffee method requires 1-4 minutes of brewing time to achieve the best results, but this will ultimately depend on the equipment you opt for and the coffee you choose. We recommend looking at your specific setup and finding out what time is recommended for your unique process. 

Using a timer alongside a coffee scale can make a real difference to your brew.

3 T's of Specialty Coffee | Time | THE COFFEE GOODS

Turbulence 

Once you’ve mastered your temperature and your timing, turbulence is the final factor to get under control. Turbulence describes when the water flow impacts the coffee grounds during the brewing process. The force of the water flow agitates the particles in the coffee grounds, resulting in even extraction.

Turbulence can differ depending on the kettle you are using. For example, using a thinner spout means that the coffee faces less impact or movement and offers a more consistent flow of water. These are ideal for beginners, since thicker spouts require more skilful control and could result in uneven extraction.

Some methods use agitation to encourage better turbulence results, achieved by using a stick or spoon to stir during the blooming or brewing process. This encourages more dynamic movement and more even extraction.

3 T's of Specialty Coffee | Turbulence | THE COFFEE GOODS

So, that’s everything you need to know about how the 3 T’s can be utilised in combination to brew a masterful cup of coffee. As this is a quick guide to specialty coffee creation, it’s important to remember that there’s no right or wrong way to brew. Explore your process at your own pace, discover the variety of methods and find out what works best for you.

If you’re looking for brew products to perfect your setup, head to THE COFFEE GOODS now to browse our latest arrivals. 

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