Our Approach

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Here at Socratic Coffee, we have two main types of posts:

1) Full write-up of our experiments/studies. These include standard scientific journal type sections such as abstract, introduction, methods, results, and conclusions. These reports may get a little bogged down in the details and/or read in a rather dry manner, but this is important. Our goal is to be as open and descriptive with our methods, analyses, and results as possible. In this respect, the definitions of our words and procedures is critical. Also, by giving you as many of the details as we can, it is our hope that you can replicate what we have done if you desire. We are constantly trying to tweak the format of these posts so they contain all the necessary details but offer concise tidbits for those wanting the main take-away message. However, we try to not speak beyond the data, so we prefer to leave the broader interpretation of the results and their application up to you, the reader.

2) Data blitz. These are shorter, less detailed blurbs where we put out an interesting observation or data. Their intent is to get feedback or start a dialogue. Many of our Instagram posts would fall into this category.

13 Responses

  1. Where is the section for pure arbitrary qualitative analysis aka “znoobery”? Don’t see that listed.

  2. George Chow

    I just finished reading your article on TDS and wonder if you are interested in do another research/experiment.
    I have been trying to figure out if I can yield more sugar and less brightness on espressos that is prepared different than the conventional way. My idea actually came after watching the Hongkong barista using sous vide to heat up coffee beans before grinding. He approach is before the grind and my approach is after the grind.
    I have an espresso machine that can do pressure profiling (fluid-o-tech pump).
    I have been experimenting with espressos that I “soak” the coffee grinds inside the puck for 10 minutes before brewing. I left the fineness of the ground the same.
    The way I do it is to pre-infuse till saturation and wait for 10 minutes before making the espresso. This is more of a trial and error since saturating the puck without any drip is difficult. So I leave a container under the portafilter to collect the unintended drips. This is added (if any) to the espresso later.
    I found that coffee flows much faster after 10 minutes soaking, i.e. coffee flows faster under the same 9 bar of pressure. Since I do not have volumetric measuring capabilities, I do not know the flow rate before and after with the same 9 bars of pressure.
    What I noticed is the coffee tasted “sweeter” and less “bright”, but without numerical numbers to substantiate it.
    I have been thinking about using laboratory ph test strips to test the ph level before and after, and use Clintest reagent tablets to test for sugar (for diabetes) before and after, but not sure if they are sensitive enough to tell the difference.
    Since coffee tasting is more of a subjective endeavor, I am not saying coffee tasted better or worse before and after, but the coffee is less bright and sweeter.
    Wonder if what I said makes sense to you or not.

    • Hi George,

      That’s something we would like to look into — but, as of right now, we don’t have an easy way to objectively quantify various compound levels in the coffee (e.g., chromatography). If we can think of an indirect way to assess how compounds change based on brew parameters, we will definitely look into it.

      Jeremy

  3. I love your scientific approach to specialty coffee, Joe and Jeremy. I’m the publisher of print magazine about specialty coffee culture – Standart Magazine and would love to start working with you. Would you mind leaving your contact details at michal@standart.sk?

    Many thanks,

    Michal

    • Hi Michal,

      I will be sending you an email and thanks for your interest

      Warm Regards,

      Joe

  4. These experiments are seriously awesome. I am so psyched that some real science is getting into espresso. There’s been so much pseudo-science, conjecture, and mythology. I like that you aren’t drawing arbitrary conclusions from the data you find. Only conclusions supported by the data.

  5. Some time ago you presented some results from sieving coffee ground in a variety of different grinders. I have yet to see any Materials and Methods for this. Will it be forthcoming?

    • Hi Andrew,

      Potentially. We’re looking into ways to catalogue our work from Instagram so that people can more easily search for and understand the data we’ve collected. I think we can do some generic write-ups regarding our various protocols (sieving, solubility, etc.) at the very least. We’ve tried to reserve write-ups on our site to well-controlled, true experiments, which take us many hours to plan, perform, analyze, and write-up. Not to say our other tests aren’t time-consuming, but they pale in comparison to the level of effort for our actual experiments. All that to say, we’re always trying to think of ways to make our data more approachable and useful to the coffee community.

      Jeremy

      • I will soon be in the market for a new grinder, and although there are many other factors for me to consider, I would very much like to see your write up on this subject as well.

        • Hi Ezra,

          Thanks for the message. I, too, am looking for a new grinder at the moment. As you mentioned, the criteria one uses to make the decision may differ and is context-dependent. We only assess aspects that we can provide objective evidence for and that has been up to this point, almost exclusively, a grinder’s particle distribution given specific dial-in parameters and relative to other grinders tested at the same time. We’ve also tested the solubility of similarly-sized particles from different grinders using a consistent protocol. There are many factors to consider and, while I’d argue that particle distribution should be one of the most important, it is most definitely not the only one!

          Jeremy

  6. Great site & love the data.
    With the Vesuvius machine out now, I was wondering if you were thinking of delving into brewing parameters.
    A Taguchi DOE would be a great way to start with an understanding of which parameters should be examined in more detail.
    Would love to know more if/when you get to this
    Thank you,
    Ezra

    • Hi Ezra,

      We would like to do a systematic exploration of brewing parameters. I am not familiar with application of the Taguchi approach to the design of experiments–can you email me (jeremy at socraticcoffee.com) to further discuss how we might utilize this method? It does seem like it could be very applicable in this context.

      Thanks,
      Jeremy

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