This is Scientific American's 60-second Science. I'm Karen Hopkin. Making a cup of coffee isn't rocket science.
But a new study shows that a background in math and analytical chemistry doesn't hurt. Because researchers who applied their skills in materials science and modeling to brewing espresso have made a grounds-breaking discovery:
contrary to popular belief, using fewer beans and a coarser grind will give you a more consistent shot. Their work appears in the journal Matter.
If you're a coffee aficionado, you've no doubt noticed that some days, you may get a great espresso; other days, not so much. Even with the same coffee, the same machine, the same settings.
To understand that variability, the researchers developed a mathematical model to explore how coffee is extracted or dissolved as water passes through the bed of grounds.
"Basically, what we did was to start by writing down some equations, which apply to just a single ground." Jamie Foster, a senior lecturer in mathematics and physics at the University of Portsmouth.
"So it's a less intimidating task, because in a real coffee bed, you've got millions and millions of particles that are packed together in this very complicated way.
And so a more tractable problem is to write down the equations on a single ground." To model the entire coffee bed, Foster and his colleagues copied that equation millions of times,
stirred in a bit more math and then poured on the theoretical water. "The model tells us what we should expect in an ideal situation when all of the coffee is being contacted by all of the water equally."
Christopher Hendon, a computational chemist at the University of Oregon, who also took part in the study. "And indeed, the model describes reality very well for particular grind settings, 下载全新《每日英语听力》客户端，查看完整内容