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The science behind the perfect cup of coffee

Updated Dec 19th, 2018 9:12PM EST

You probably drink coffee every morning, but why should you settle for mediocre coffee when you could have it so much better?

Looking at various studies that analyze the components of coffee and how to make the most of them when it comes to both taste and health benefits, ArsTechnica has tried to explain the science behind a good cup of coffee and there are a lot of surprising facts you probably don’t know.

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It all starts with the chemicals and their affects on the human body. Caffeine has many psychoactive properties: It enhances perception, it reduces fatigue and can improve long-term memory loss. Consuming 400mg of caffeine a day can be part of a healthy diet – that’s 3 to 5 cups per day.

Other substances in coffee that you should know about include chlorogenic acids (lowers risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes and have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties), trigonelline (protects the brain from damage, prevents cancer cells from moving around, fights bacteria, lowers blood sugar and cholesterol), kahweol and cafestol (fight against cancer cells, but give bitter taste to coffee and are linked to raising cholesterol).

The type of bean, of course, is also important when it comes to these substances. As the image above shows, there are two main types of coffee beans, Coffea Arabica, and Coffea canephora var. Robusta.

Roasting the beans is also important. Coffee beans are roasted between two to 25 minutes, at temperatures between 180 and 250 degrees Celsius. Depending on the length of the roast and the temperature, you’ll get a light-to-dark resulting coffee. Under that kind of heat, multiple chemical reactions take place further affecting the taste and properties of the beans. The amount of caffeine, however, doesn’t change. What will change are the chlorogenic acids, which are less effective in dark roasts.

Now that roasting is done; you need to add the water. According to a recent study, the positive ions in hard water are better at getting the flavor in coffee rather than clean distilled water.

Of course, you’ll also have to grind the roasted beans, and studies have shown that the more pulverized coffee is, the better the results.

Researchers found that espresso gets the most quantity of coffee and chlorogenic acids per 100ml of brew, and produces the tastiest and creamiest coffee. But servings are small. Filter coffee will match the same health benefits of espresso – but maybe not the creaminess of the taste – provided you consume bigger servings.

Check out Ars’s entire post on how to make a great cup of joe, the scientific way, at the source link.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.