What is the Body of a Coffee?

2 min read

 Crema Coffee

Alright guys, here's one which always confused me until I sat down and decided to learn about it. "When someone is talking about the body of a coffee - what do they actually mean?"

This is basically talking about the mouthfeel, texture or heaviness of the brew. While it isn't directly a characteristic of flavour, it can impact how we perceive the flavour. I'm a big foodie myself so I'm going to try and pull together an analogy that I always use on my siblings and try to make it work here.

A burger with strength fills your mouth up, right? That burger feels juicier, fuller and it feels like it's bursting with flavour. It may or may not actually be bursting with flavour in reality, but the fact that your mouth feels fuller can drive the extra perception of certain flavours. Coffee body is similar in this regard. (Hopefully that made sense but bombard the BeanBurds whatsapp if it didn't!)

Now comes the science (since we're mainly focused on roasted beans, I won't get into how your grow and roast for body but I can cover that later if our BeanBurdies demand it). We can't talk about the body of the coffee without talking about extraction - the process by which the coffee is brewed. During extraction there are two key elements that we need to be aware of; soluble and insoluble substances.  

Fine particles, like those found in a fine or extra fine grind, tend to dissolve entirely in the water. Larger particles such as those found in medium & coarser grounds, coffee fibers and the oils from the bean are insoluble and are what create the body of the coffee.

Certain types of brewing are just better suited to creating a fuller body. For example, a larger filter (such as one found in a french press) would allow the oils from the bean to flow into the final coffee while holding out the larger, grittier particles.

Pour overs and cold brews tend to result in clearer, lighter brews because of how fine the filter that is used when preparing them. Nothing but the finest particles get through!

Up next is the infamous espresso. This particular brew required pressure, and not gravity, to create the coffee. This, mixed with the extra fine grind of the beans and a higher brew ratio (amount of coffee to water) creates a crema; a golden-brown layer of oils on the top. This layer tends to be bitter, but the oils are a key element in creating the full body espresso is known for.

What you're left with, then, is the Aeropress which you can use to either enhance body or clarity depending on your mood or preference. That is something I'll go into on another day though.

That's all for now.


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