loader image
January 30, 2017 /
Coffee Extraction – The 80:20 Method

So we’ve been through how to get more or less extraction from a coffee and what that might taste like. But how do we make the most of this? The following is my super simple 80:20 method for getting the best out of a coffee with minimal effort.

The 80:20 rule or “Pareto Principle” states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the results come from 20% of the causes. This can be observed almost everywhere:

– 80% of the world’s income is only distributed amongst 20% of the population.
– 80% of a company’s complaints usually come from only 20% of their customers.
– 80% of internet traffic occurs only 20% of the time.
– 80% of injuries in workplaces are because of 20% of the hazards.

The list goes on and I can think of many cases in coffee and related business where the Pareto Principle comes in handy. Today I’d like to talk about applying it to make a coffee taste better.

There are so many variables involved in making coffee, and once you go down the rabbit hole it doesn’t really stop. That doesn’t mean to say that controlling variables and making tasty coffee is impossible. It just means we need to focus on what’s most important first.

I’ve been receiving an incredible number of emails detailing Rube Goldberg-esque experiments and “frictionless vacuum variables (keep em’ coming!!) from Baristas looking to inch out the next 1% increment of tastiness from their coffee. I’m looking forward to tackling this sort of stuff in due course, but for now we need to apply Pareto’s Principle. I want to help everyone make massive improvements quickly and simply.

The reason I talked about extraction for the last two weeks is because it’s the most important part of brewing coffee. If your extraction is improved slightly, the resulting cup is dramatically better. If you can find the sweet spot for extraction, you’ll be close to (or at least approaching) 80% of a coffee’s potential. You might think this is a bit generous or easy, but I strongly believe it’s the truth. Find the sweet spot and you’re far far above average.

So how do we get there? It’s super simple:

If you remember, over extracted coffee is dry and bitter and under extracted coffee is sour and empty (amongst other tastes). As you move from under-extracted to over-extracted, the coffee gets sweeter and sweeter and sweeter as you pick up more sugars, then it rather quickly becomes dry and bitter. This is because at a certain point you start extracting heavier organic matter that’s unpalatable.

The aim of the game here is to extract the coffee up to a point just before you get unpalatable dryness or bitterness. It’s the sweetest spot. Guaranteed. Every time.

(If, bizarrely, your aim isn’t more sweetness then this probably isn’t the coffee mail-out for you.)

Espresso, drip, plunger, aeropress, siphon, your shoe; it doesn’t matter what you’re brewing in or with. This quick and nasty trick will help you find the sweet spot for your coffee every time. You can call this the Lazy Barista Method, or even a plain old cheat. Just know, this is the very first step I take when encountering any coffee for the first time.

Here’s how to use it for both Espresso and Filter Coffee:

Maintain the same weight of coffee grounds throughout.
Extract More = Grind finer AND/OR brew for a longer time AND/OR use more water.
Extract Less = Grind coarser AND/OR brew for a shorter time AND/OR use less water.

I’ve fashioned an easy flow chart for you to follow. Print it out, use it on bar, memorise it, share it with your friends, whatever. Just promise me you’ll actually try this next time you brew a coffee. The key here is to forget everything else. No temperature surfing, no agitation schedule, no water analysis, no in-depth recipe usage, and absolutely no bullshit allowed. Just focus on more extraction or less extraction.

That’s it. Enjoy!

Coffee Extraction Flowchart Did this work for you? Do you love or hate it? Let me know!

 

If you have enjoyed reading this and want to enjoy delicious coffee with the rest of the community – register for our monthly Superlatives coffee subscription. Or if you just want to keep up with every thing Barista Hustle – sign up to the Newsletter.

Coaching Calendar

Find a course with a BH Certified Coach

April 2020

Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
1
  • Untitled
  • INA: Barista One
2
  • INA: Percolation
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
  • FR: PERCOLATION
25
  • FR: BARISTA ONE
26
27
28
29
30

News & Updates

Sign-up, Take part and keep in touch!

64
Leave a Reply

Please Login to comment
avatar
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Tracey
Guest
Tracey

My coffee takes to long to extract, do I need to change the grind to finer or coarser?

Maxwel
Guest
Maxwel

Maybe you have a lot of beans in the basket ( make sure you have enough beans for instance if the basket if a 20g, then use either 19 or 20 and not 22) and your grind is toooo fine. Depending on your beans make sure your grounded beans are medium fine to medium course. Try by having grounded beans on the palm of your hand then hold them firmly , open your palms..if the grounds separate easily then its tooooo course if they stick together then your grounds and tooo fine. Usually they should be a lil poros. Like… Read more »

Ruth Hampson
Guest
Ruth Hampson

Love these simple graphics: really help to focus what we are all trying to do but in a straightforward way. Thanks!

Matt Perger
Guest
Matt Perger

Yes sometimes, but that’s not the goal with this (yet!)

Matt Perger
Guest
Matt Perger

Because then it’d be the 22:80.5 Method!

Casey Loseth
Guest
Casey Loseth

Can I ask why no temperature surfing?

Guest
Guest
Guest

Would you also add increase water temp – extract more and decrease water temp – extract less? I’ve found I resort to that often as a last minor tweak to get the last bit of awesome out.

Jonathan Hickinson
Guest
Jonathan Hickinson

This is great. Totally my question, so thanks for that. And thanks for an awesome Hussle so far. I feel that I actually understand extraction now. Not only understand, but what action to take to manipulate a great/tasty end result. Keep it flowing good sir!

Jelle van Rossum
Guest
Jelle van Rossum

I think it is important to point out the generic 15% and 20% extraction flavour bumps. Going from 15% to 17% might result in worse flavours and would, following this chart, prevent people from reaching the coffee’s potential and utilizing other variables afterwards..
Nevertheless, a very simply yet important graphic Matt! I believe many people get stuck on details without having tried a few different grind settings.

Matt Perger
Guest
Matt Perger

Hey 🙂 I never ever aim for the lower bump. Ever.
This graph should take you up to the highest/best/sweetest point regardless of where you’re starting.

Paweł Pav Murawski
Guest
Paweł Pav Murawski

I find this really helpful when I start with all my south american coffees. Great job here Matt.

Matt Perger
Guest
Matt Perger

Yeah that sour is what this workflow assumes will happen. Might not work with some weirdo roasts though. Thanks for chatting, and for the kind words 🙂

Jelle van Rossum
Guest
Jelle van Rossum

I meant that someone starting at (using absolutes here for convenience’s sake) 13%, going to 15% (boom sweety), then going to 17% (tastes worse), will then dial back to 15% since it’s the sweet spot. They might not realize they’re at the lower bump.
However, after I posted, I realize going past the lower bump usually gets more “sour” for a while but not dry / bitter, so the graph should prevent my previous case. My mistake.
Anyway, thanks again for a fun Hustle and looking forward to new ones 🙂

Matt Perger
Guest
Matt Perger

Thanks Ruth!!

CrisMendoze
Guest
CrisMendoze

This is awesome! Personally, with more developed coffees, I tend to work backwards, start with underextraction because of more solubility/less soluble content, but with less developed coffees, to which I gravitate, I try to push the envelope of extraction because of less solubility, more soluble content.

hooshd
Guest
hooshd

Love the chart!

I know in theory you can adjust a few parameters, but which parameters do you usually tweak? I get confused thinking of a matrix (or cube) of parameters, so usually start with generally recommended recipes quantities/target grind size/brew time (for whatever method of brewing) and adjust ONLY the grind.

David Smith
Guest
David Smith

i think there are good bitters in coffee for sure. chocolate is a bitter flavour for instance. i think matts referring to extracting as much ‘good’ flavours (or ‘good’ bitters) without going beyond the point where the “unpalletable plant matter” gets extracted.

Raine Bg
Guest
Raine Bg

Love it!

Ryan Hollingshead
Guest
Ryan Hollingshead

This morning I had a coffee that was bitter but good bitter. This hustle makes me think bitter is bad. Have you tasted coffees that are bitter & sweet?

Daniel Laurence
Guest
Daniel Laurence

Thanks for sharing Matt. Great stuff as always. Will stick this on my coffee corner @ home haha 🙂

Abhijit Pradhan
Guest
Abhijit Pradhan

Hey Matt ! Just subscribed and already loving the hustle ! Think someone touched upon it a bit in the q&a but I am not clear about the role of water temperature in extraction. Is there a sweet “hot” spot ? – does it differ for different methods ( The Aeropress founder recommend 175 degree F – but is that because the extraction time is lesser compared to say a V60 ? ) ?

Yohanes
Guest
Yohanes

very very practical! I might have misunderstood “more water” though. Isn’t it gonna make the extraction weaker?

Shun Taguchi
Guest
Shun Taguchi

Thanks for sharing simple and great idea, Matt! I had no idea we can use pareto principle for coffee 🙂
So do you use this method and check TDS with reflectometer when you make recipe for new coffee?

Matt Perger
Guest
Matt Perger

The 3D thing is precisely why I use this method. Simplify it. There’s lots of other tweaks, too many to go into here 🙂

Increasing sweetness
Guest
Increasing sweetness

[…] morning, I was reading a post Matt Perger made in regards to this exact point. This is the link:Coffee Extraction – The 80:20 Method Enjoy! […]

Matt Perger
Guest
Matt Perger

Yeah this is why I use the modifier ‘unpalatable’ before the word bitter!

Matt Perger
Guest
Matt Perger

Yeah I’ll get close using this method, then use the refractometer to figure out what’s going on.

Matt Perger
Guest
Matt Perger

It will make the drink weaker, but the extraction will increase!

Guest
Guest
Guest

Thanks! I am loving The Barista Hustle!

Brad Bauder
Guest
Brad Bauder

Great job Matt! This is a wonderful tool for us as Baristas and a good article too. Keep em coming.

Brad Bauder
@Arabicacadabra

Mat North
Guest
Mat North

simple and clean, nice.

kaylamity
Guest
kaylamity

This is awesome, thanks!

Caleb Goodrum
Guest
Caleb Goodrum

Love it. Super sound advice. Any move that reduces the number of sour, grassy cups of otherwise-awesome coffee is very very welcome!

Matt Perger
Guest
Matt Perger

Totally. But I also find it almost impossible to properly over extract really underdeveloped coffees which pulls me back south anyway!

Guest
Guest
Guest

So simple, yet it never crossed my mind! Thanks Mr. Perger! You’re a game changer!

Steve Cuevas
Guest
Steve Cuevas

Love the hard work your putting in Matt!!

Nick Yates
Guest
Nick Yates

Hi Matt, thanks for these clear and accessible pieces. These articles have helped me identify some delicious sweetness in my coffee, and also some undesirable dryness – not surprising given the uneven particle distribution that all grinders give us. At home I have a Breville Smart Grinder Pro, which I think is good for its price point, but I’m sure if I saw its particle distribution curve against your EK43, I would cry. What do you recommend for home brewers wanting to achieve more uniform extractions? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think my options are – grind finer… Read more »

Ryan Hollingshead
Guest
Ryan Hollingshead

I missed the ‘unpalatable’ bit. Love the chart! Thank you Matt.

Dan
Guest
Dan

YES!! This is a great approach for that ideal sweet spot extraction. Also really like the diagram.

Dan @DanHowtocoffee

Nickolas Fink
Guest
Nickolas Fink

Matt, Thanks for putting this site together, it’s sorely needed! I’m a brewer, and going from an industry with lots of concrete info to a hobby with very little of it can be frustrating, so cheers! I have an idea for a future Hustle… probably fairly far in the future, as I’m sure requests are piling up. I’d love for you to delve into degassing and the bloom, and how these topics relate to brewing recipes, specifically time and temperature, and how those variables change depending on brewing method (espresso vs. pourover vs. full immersion). Also, if you were to… Read more »

Ryan Felbinger
Guest
Ryan Felbinger

In response to this section: “Here’s how to use it for both Espresso and Filter Coffee: Maintain the same weight of coffee grounds throughout. Extract More = Grind finer AND/OR brew for a longer time AND/OR use more water. Extract Less = Grind coarser AND/OR brew for a shorter time AND/OR use less water.” Maintaining a consistent dosage of coffee and manipulating water is certainly one way to change extraction time, but with the compromise of changing strength. What issues do you see in maintaining the same grind size, but manipulating both coffee and water weights, relatively, as a way… Read more »

Joe
Guest
Joe

think about water taking away things from coffee, the more you use the more things it’ll take but also the less concentration it’ll have. Thats why typically the more extraction aim for (given a properly roasted coffee) we get sweeter coffee but sometimes with less viscosity people might be used to because of the concentration part. There’s lots we can do to change that but I’m sure matt will go into it later on as more people read the basics. an objective approach to coffee… aint it great?!

dhb
Guest
dhb

The grind size isn’t constant. There is always a relationship between grind size & humidity. Therefore to try to use it as an constant is a battle you rarely win… Furthermore, in my limited experience it’s the “strength” the reason most coffees are underextracted.

Joe
Guest
Joe

what about darker roasts… we can’t neglect their existence bud. I serve hair bender and I’m at 17% with hair bender… its really really roasty if we take it any higher at the concentration we prefer. But in milk? customer fucking love it.

Joe
Guest
Joe

think of it like this

extraction = throw (coffee dose & particle size : water) + temperature + turbulence / (over) time = total dissolved solids (concentration) and total extraction (how much of that coffee have you dissolved)

theres no size fits all in coffee, i typically start at 1:17 ratio and a 200 degree water. But possibilities are endless after that. its easier to recommend a ballpark if you were to say roaster (hopefully i know the roaster), origin and brewing system.

Guest
Guest
Guest

think extraction = throw (water : coffee) + temperature + turbulence / (over ) time = total concentration % & total extraction %

Alan Bruce
Guest
Alan Bruce

So I just tried this method with a new coffee I’m working with. Dialled in following the chart and then tested with a refractomer. Hit 20% almost on the nose!

Old Mate
Guest
Old Mate

Coming from a long timer reader / follower and Pergtamp early adopter. I must say it would be interesting on occassion to see information / pics of context in regards to roast. Times to first crack and development there after. Some high quality pictures of whole / ground beans. Agtron readings?

Matt Perger
Guest
Matt Perger

Hey Ryan

There’s no brew ratio you can’t achieve with a fixed dose that you can by changing it. So why make things complicated by changing it?

Also, the ‘and/or’ conjunction allows you to choose which variable you change, allowing you to manipulate things however you’d like without reducing strength if so desired.

Matt Perger
Guest
Matt Perger

If 17 is the maximum extraction you can get, then it’s definitely not the lower bump and this workflow is perfect. No?

Jon from Black Oak Coffee
Guest
Jon from Black Oak Coffee

Otto: in our testing with a refractometer and a robur E grinder we found that we werent able to get much higher than 16.5% extraction with a recipe of 18g in and 27g out (1.5 : 1) brew ratio. The extraction percentage just doesn’t get higher with longer pulls. We found that if you have a shot longer than 22 seconds you generally get the same extraction % up to a 40 second shot. The taste is different, but the extraction is about the same. I’ve never played with the Retrofit, so I’m not sure where it would fall given… Read more »

Copyright © 2019 Barista Hustle, All Rights Reserved!

You have Successfully Subscribed!