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Representative Image of Two Scientists Studying Coffee

Here’s How Static Electricity is Connected to the Secret Ingredient for Better Coffee in New Study

If you’re a coffee lover, you might be interested in a new study that has uncovered a simple way to improve the consistency, flavor, and efficiency of your espresso. It involves adding something that you probably have plenty of at home, and that you might not expect to make a difference. But before we reveal what it is, let’s see how the study came about and how it works.

How Was Static Electricity Connected to the Secret Ingredient for Better Coffee in New Study?

The study, published in the journal Matter, was conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Oregon, Portland State University, and the Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources. They used a combination of experiments, simulations, and mathematical models to investigate the effects of adding a small amount of water to the coffee beans before grinding them.

Two scientists studying a cup of coffee to find secret ingredient
Representative Image of Two Scientists Studying Coffee

The researchers were inspired by the similarities between coffee grinding and volcanic eruptions, which both involve the interaction of solid and fluid materials. Volcanic ash and rocks rub against each other and generate static electricity, which can cause lightning strikes. Similarly, coffee beans rub against each other and the grinder and generate static electricity, which can cause clumping and uneven extraction.

Two scientists studying a cup of coffee to find secret ingredient
Representative Image of Two Scientists Studying Coffee

The researchers found that adding water to the coffee beans before grinding them reduces the static charge by creating a thin layer of water around the beans. This layer acts as a lubricant and a conductor, allowing the beans to slide more easily and discharge their excess charge. The optimal amount of water depends on the type of coffee, the humidity, and the grinder, but the researchers suggest that around 0.5% of the bean mass is a good starting point.

The researchers also tested the effect of water on the brewing process, using an espresso machine and a refractometer to measure the extraction yield and the total dissolved solids. They found that adding water to the beans before grinding them increased the extraction yield by up to 15%, meaning that more of the coffee’s flavor and aroma was transferred to the cup. They also found that adding water reduced the variation between different shots of espresso, making the process more consistent and reliable.

a picture of black scientists studying a cup of coffee in a high tech lab
Representative Image of Three Scientists Studying Coffee

The researchers hope that their findings will benefit both coffee consumers and producers, as well as inspire further research on the physics and chemistry of coffee. They also point out that reducing the static charge on coffee grounds could have environmental benefits, as it could reduce the amount of coffee waste and the energy consumption of the grinders.

So, there you have it. The secret ingredient to better coffee is water. Yes, water. Just a few drops of water added to your beans before grinding them can make a big difference in the way your espresso tastes and performs. And you have volcanic science and static electricity to thank for that.

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