Java, cup of Joe, liquid energy, black gold, these are just some of the terms used to describe one of the world’s most consumed beverages – coffee. True enough, coffee is worth its weight in gold because it gets us on our feet every morning, keeps us up, and gives us an energy boost to be productive in the office or at work.
The first sip of coffee in the morning is like a signal to our brain to start working, so if you’re brewing coffee at home with your ground coffee beans or Nespresso capsule, it’s totally understandable to be tempted to put your mug directly under the piping hot and freshly-brewed stream to grab a cup and get on with your day. As it turns out, though, you need to hold your horses and wait until the brewing cycle has been completed.
The reason why you should not try to purloin a cup while your coffee is still brewing is that the coffee concentration continues to evolve as the brew progresses. The flavour and buzz starts very strong but gradually weakens and becomes more pleasant as the coffee oils and flavours settle.
According to Cooks Illustrated, “As we had suspected, the coffee coming out of the spout at the beginning of the brew time was significantly stronger than the last few drops: 3.93 parts per million (ppm) versus 0.44 ppm or more than eight times as concentrated. It was also more than twice as strong as coffee from a fully brewed pot (1.54 ppm).”
Patience is indeed a virtue, and it holds water even in drinking coffee. If you jump at your mug and start guzzling down the freshly-brewed coffee as soon as the coffee machine is done percolating, it would be difficult to taste the coffee itself. The heat will not only singe your tongue, but it will also stifle taste* and overpower the coffee’s flavours. Nevertheless, some people enjoy how the biting sensation of steaming coffee wakes them up, but unfortunately, our taste buds would not be able to identify fine and delicate coffee nuances at these temperatures.
Moreover, the coffee’s notes start to shine a few moments after brewing, as it starts to cool down a little bit. Between 120°F and 140°F, the delicate and subtle flavours noted by the roaster will start to come out, hence creating a more delightful cup.
If another well-enjoyed beverage ever comes close to coffee in terms of meticulous processing and intricate preparations, it would arguably have to be wine. We are all aware of how the right temperature, drinkware and proper aerating or giving the drink a chance to “breathe” can significantly affect the way a wine shows—and the same can be said for coffee.
Like wine that gets better with age, coffee tastes better too if you wait for a little bit before drinking it—and by a little bit, we mean only a few minutes, like the time you’ve spent reading this article. Yes, creating the perfect cup of coffee is not just science; it also requires art, timing, and a whole lot of patience.