Science Project: Coffee

Here’s the scoop on coffee’s flavor: the taste comes from compounds locked into roasted coffee beans. Add hot water, and those flavors escape into your pot — but not all flavors escape at the same time, says Harold McGee, food science writer and author of On Food and Cooking. For example, sour flavors, acids, come first and the plant carbohydrates responsible for coffee’s body come later. Taste for yourself with this counter-top chemistry experiment.


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  1. Coffee is suppose to neither be sour or bitter – well brewed coffee is actually a fine balance between the two to create a smooth taste.

    This experiment is to show the different stages in which the flavor of coffee comes out. Normally coffee is brewed over an extended time (about 4-5 minutes). This experiment tries to show what flavors come out during the 4-5 minute brewing duration. Sour flavors come out first, then the more "bitter" and body like flavors.

  2. I don't get it, does this mean that the first cup – 'normal' coffee is supposed to taste sour? I thought coffee naturally has a bitter taste to it…
    nice experiment though!

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