UL researchers are zeroing in on the perfect cup of coffee
ALFRED Renyi once said, “a mathematician is a device for turning coffee into theorems”, but for the mathematicians at the University of Limerick, the goal is to turn theorems into coffee, the perfect cup of coffee to be exact.
Billions of people around the world start every day with a cup of the black stuff, but few would ever take the time to think about the science behind the drink.
However, for a team of researchers at UL this is exactly what they have done, showing that mathematical models could help to brew the perfect cup of coffee.
Dr Kevin Moroney and Dr Ken O’Connell of UL’s Bernal institute have just published research in a prominent international journal that looks at the maths behind brewing coffee.
Dr Moroney, the lead-author on the paper says that baristas and manufacturers should use the “modelling to target and ensure that you can, as much as possible, repeatedly get the quality coffee that you are looking for”.
“When people are measuring the quality of coffee brews they measure two things – the strength of the coffee, and that is just the amount of soluble material in the drink – and then they measure the amount of material that has been extracted from the dry coffee.
“The problem with how they measure it is that it is just an average measurement – when they estimate the extraction level, they assume it is uniform across the whole coffee bed. So with this paper, what we are looking at is we were modelling the flow within the coffee bed to try and capture non-uniform extraction.”
The end goal of the research is to create a mathematical set of equations to predict the quality of brewed coffee, based on the properties of coffee grounds, water used and brewing settings, Dr Moroney says.
This would, in turn, allow coffee manufacturers to develop machines that brew that elusive perfect cup of coffee.