Part of what defines the speciality coffee industry is the continued pursuit of new information and technology to better understand what is possible when working with something once thought of as a relatively simple and ubiquitous raw ingredient. This extends to everything from roasting profiles to the transport and storage of green coffee, and a host of different brewing methods and philosophies. A constant antagonism of the accepted rules has lead to a series of rapid changes and developments, and sometimes it can be a challenge to keep step, for both coffee professionals and consumers alike.
One of the most recent and significant developments over the last few years has been a greater appreciation of the way water can affect extraction and flavour, and by extension what this means in terms of roasting and brewing within the industry. In 2015, Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood and Christopher H. Hendon came together to publish Water for Coffee, a book that seeks to bridge the gap between the complex science behind water and it's corresponding affect on coffee. Colonna-Dashwood is a three time UK Barista Champion, and three time World Barista Championship finalist, who also runs Colonna and Small's Speciality Coffee in Bath. Christoper H Hendon is a postdoctoral scholar at MIT in the USA, having obtained his PhD. at the University of Bath in the UK.
Together their collaborative efforts have opened the doors for coffee professionals, hobbyists and even casual home brewers to better understand how the chemical make up of the water they use will affect extraction, influencing how they brew their coffee as well as where roasting fits into this equation. All of this is designed to obtain the very best results at every stage of the process, and crucially to address one of the major wild cards affecting each cup of coffee made.
While Hendon's work unpacks the complex chemistry at work, Colonna-Dashwood brings the science back to the world of coffee, with some handy summaries and useful visual material. For those who enthusiastically follow the technical elements of the industry we definitely recommend you sit down with Water for Coffee one afternoon and explore what these two guys have put together. For those who perhaps want the condensed version, never fear. Last week we published a short post from our head of Quality Control, Anthony Piper, who put together an easy to follow recipe and explanation that even the casual coffee drinker could play around with to see if they are getting the most out of their beans. It also offers a window into how we're exploring the affect of water in the roastery right now and some of our own experiments in achieving better balanced water for maximum yums.
For anyone who missed it, you can find Piper's article here.
And for those of you already familiar with Water for Coffee, keep your ears to the ground, we have heard rumours of a forthcoming sequel maybe sometime in the new year.