Systematically Improving Espresso: Insights from Mathematical Modeling and Experiment

Michael I. Cameron, Dechen Morisco, Daniel Hofstetter, Erol Uman, Justin Wilkinson, Zachary Kennedy, Sean Fontenot, William Lee, Christopher Hendon, Jamie Foster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Espresso is a beverage brewed using hot, high-pressure water forced through a bed of roasted coffee. Despite being one of the most widely consumed coffee formats, it is also the most susceptible to variation. We report a novel model, complimented by experiment, that is able to isolate the contributions of several brewing variables, thereby disentangling some of the sources of variation in espresso extraction. Under the key assumption of homogeneous flow through the coffee bed, a monotonic decrease in extraction yield with increasingly coarse grind settings is predicted. However, experimental measurements show a peak in the extraction yield versus grind setting relationship, with lower extraction yields at both very coarse and fine settings. This result strongly suggests that inhomogeneous flow is operative at fine grind settings, resulting in poor reproducibility and wasted raw material. With instruction from our model, we outline a procedure to eliminate these shortcomings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
Issue number3
Early online date22 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2020


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