Two Sundays ago, I hosted a Beakerhead event with UBC chemistry professor Dr. Stephen McNeil. This is the second year P&S has partnered with Dr. McNeil to explore the chemistry behind coffee. This year’s event was called “Coffee in Parts Per Million”, and it explored the effect of the composition of the water used to brew coffee. During our preparation for the talk, Dr. McNeil dug up some fascinating research, some of which suggested that coffee extraction would benefit from lower concentrations of Ca2+ and Mg2+, and some of it suggested (contradictorily) that higher concentrations of those ions are better for coffee extraction.
At the event, we put the theories to the test with a number of tasting flights for the 30 attendees, and the results were much different than we had anticipated. The outcome of this talk reminded me of two important things:
Photos courtesy of Trevor Lalonde