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The Science Behind Brewing the Perfect Cup of Coffee

  • 3 min read

There’s nothing quite like sitting down with a good cup of coffee— all of your senses engaged, anticipating that first sip. While the artistry and craftsmanship of the coffee can be enjoyed and tasted through the care and dedication taken by the grower and the roaster, the final and most important step in achieving the best tasting coffee is how you brew it. Industrial designer and Technivorm founder Gerard Clement Smit combined his love of coffee with his passion for intuitive design and in 1968, he invented the Moccamaster— a coffee brewer designed to uncover the true taste of coffee by brewing the perfect cup every time.


Saying that a Moccamaster brews the perfect cup of coffee is an actual, quantifiable metric. When awarding their Seal of Approval, the European Coffee Brewing Centre (ECBC) uses science-backed guidelines to evaluate how a brewer performs across the four T’s of coffee brewing: temperature, time, turbulence, and total dissolved solids (TDS). A brewer that performs within the ideal ranges of the four T’s produces the perfect ratio of the coffee flavor compounds extracted into water, or put simply, what we enjoy when we sit back with a good cup of coffee.


The Four T’s


Assuming we start with quality ingredients (you can’t brew good coffee with bad beans or water!) and the proper coffee grind size, brewing the perfect cup of coffee starts with the temperature of the water from when it first hits the grounds, and throughout the entire brewing process. To achieve optimal saturation and maximum flavor, every Moccamaster brewer uses a custom-designed copper boiling element to heat the water precisely between 196°F - 205°F. Temperatures outside this range may over-extract the flavor, leaving your coffee tasting overly bitter, while a temperature below that range can under-extract the coffee, leaving you with a weak or sour cup. 


Equally as important as temperature is the amount of time that the water saturates the grounds. The ideal saturation time is between 4 - 6 minutes and is crucial to extracting the full flavor of the coffee. If the water doesn’t saturate the grounds for enough time, the flavor compounds won’t fully release, and the brew will taste weak and thin. Too much saturation time will result in an over-extraction of the grounds, resulting in an unpleasant bitter taste. To ensure that the saturation time consistently remains within the 4 - 6 minute range, Moccamaster brewers use an optimal pulse-drip method, allowing the perfect coffee bloom, saturation time, and extraction of flavor compounds to give you all of the complexity, flavor, and aroma that your beans have to offer.


The third part of unlocking the perfect cup of coffee is the turbulence, or agitation, generated by the water as it flows through the grounds, creating even saturation. Grounds that are evenly saturated ensure a balanced and consistent release of flavor compounds throughout the entire brew and prevent isolated amounts of grounds from being over or under saturated. The ideal turbulence for even saturation is achieved by the strength of the water dripping from the outlet arm and the shape of the brew basket. Both the outlet arm and brew basket on every Moccamaster have been designed to create the optimal amount of agitation between the water and the grounds, resulting in a coffee bloom that brings the flavor profile of the beans to life.

Total Dissolved Solids (TDS):

The final evaluation is the ratio of the total dissolved solids (TDS) to water that the brewer extracts. This ratio is especially important to measure because it’s directly responsible for the flavor of the coffee we taste. The ECBC defines ideal TDS yield as between 18% - 22% and through consistent water temperature, saturation time, and turbulence of the grounds, Moccamaster brewers hit this target every time, delivering that ideal coffee flavor and taste in each and every cup.


Temperature, time, turbulence, and TDS— these are the criteria that the ECBC measures when evaluating brewers for their Seal of Approval. And since 1975, every Moccamaster brewer has earned this honor and distinction through thoughtful design, handmade craftsmanship, and passion for the pursuit of the true taste of coffee. Whether you’re fascinated with the technical details and science behind brewing, or you just enjoy the flavor and craft of a perfect cup of coffee, Moccamaster brewers ensure consistency and reliability that will delight the coffee enthusiast in each of us. Now, learn how to use your coffee brewer.