Jul 20, 2009|
Dr. Brew Speaks
Dr. Brew has gone on a well-deserved vacation. In his absence, we are publishing articles that he authored regarding coffee and tea brewing. This article was originally published in the Q1 issue of Tea Coffee Asia.

There will always be more questions than answers when discussing any subject, and coffee brewing is no exception. Everyone you talk to has an opinion about how a properly brewed cup is prepared. Differences in the brew caused by the method used in the separation of the grounds and finished beverage can alter your taste experience as well as the strength and extraction analysis.

These variations alone create debate as to which delivers the perfect cup experience. Since the 1960s, the most accepted method of separation has been paper filtration for filter-drip coffee. I would venture to say the majority of today’s coffee drinkers in the United States haven’t tasted coffee that has been brewed by any other method.

Many methods, but only two standards
Throughout my time spent learning about coffee brewing (something I hope never ends), there have been only two recognized sets of standards to determine a properly brewed cup of filter coffee. The majority of this work was done in the 1950s through the early 1970s. These standards set a recipe or formula for water to coffee ratio that can deliver a balance of strength and extraction and are achieved through a brewing method that combines time and temperature. All of which have recognized tolerances. With all the advances in the world of coffee technology, it’s time to take a fresh look at how a properly brewed cup is determined.


First let’s look at existing brewing standards. These standards were developed by the Coffee Brewing Institute Inc. (CBI) an affiliate of both the National Coffee Association and the Pan American Coffee Bureau. When the CBI was formed in 1952, it marked the first time a scientific study of coffee beverage was conducted in the United States.

In 1964, the now-defunct Coffee Brewing Institute was replaced with the Coffee Brewing Center (CBC). The CBC focused its work in the foodservice sector, promoting the brewing standards created by the CBI. The CBC developed the original Golden Cup Award program to promote proper brewing techniques at the restaurant level and to provide training to the foodservice trade. The CBC closed in 1975.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, the European Coffee Brewing Association was established in 1971 by the Norwegian Coffee Association. The association’s mission has been to improve the technical qualities of the brewing equipment, and to inform, train and educate professional and consumers to properly brew their coffee. Thankfully these concepts are back in the mainstream conscience of today’s roasters, manufactures and consumers. The Speciality Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE) and the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) have programs promoting quality brewing. The SCAE Gold Cup program and the SCAA Golden Cup programs are designed to provide education to all involved in the coffee trade.


To be continued...

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