The phases of coffee extraction and what you should consider when brewing

Written by: Smilla H.



Time to read 7 min

What does the extraction of coffee actually mean?

Coffee extraction is the process of running hot water through ground coffee powder, extracting aromas, flavors and caffeine from the coffee beans . This process lays the foundation for how coffee is made and determines how your coffee tastes and how strong it is.

The classic phases of coffee extraction

Here is a brief overview of what you need for the classic extraction of coffee through a filter. Of course you can find all this and more in our online shop! We have curated a large selection of equipment and accessories for you and only sell products that we are 100% convinced of. For the coffee extraction you need:

  1. Kettle , scale and timer.
  2. A brewing device or maker of your choice.
  3. A filter of your choice.
  4. A coffee pot as a collecting container.

There are two main phases of coffee extraction, which can be further divided into smaller phases. The two main phases affect your brewing result differently:

  1. Between 30% and 60% of the total weight affects the acidity and sweetness of your coffee.
  2. The last 40% to 70% affects balance and strength.

The first infusion, aka. The Bloom: CO₂ and acidity in coffee extraction

The purpose of the so-called "blooming" in brewing is to release carbon dioxide. We don't want the unpleasant sour taste of carbon dioxide in our coffee. In addition, this preliminary stage allows us to control the later brewing stages more precisely. This is because carbon dioxide pushes the water away from our coffee grounds and can thus create an uneven extraction.

The lighter the roast of the coffee beans, the more carbon dioxide is trapped in the beans. The darker the roast, the more gas will escape later during the late stages of brewing. So the more carbon dioxide we let off beforehand, the less we have to worry about during brewing. Important aspects of the flowering phase are the distribution of the water, the water temperature, the ratio of water and ground coffee, and the brewing time.

The correct ratio between water and coffee powder can vary between 5% and 20% of the total weight during the flowering phase.

Aside from the CO₂ release of the flowering phase, the first brew also controls the acidity of your coffee. The greater the ratio of water and coffee during pre-brewing, the more acidic the coffee becomes.

The recommended time for this brewing level is between 30 and 45 seconds. The water temperature we use for the "bloom" should by no means be lower than the temperature used for later brewing stages. At higher temperatures, carbon dioxide is released faster, while colder water does not release enough carbon dioxide to achieve a consistent coffee extraction.

Second infusion: The sweetness in coffee extraction

The first and the second infusion are strongly dependent on each other. While we control the acidity at the beginning, we influence the sweetness of our coffee with the second infusion. Time and space are limited here, so we should coordinate the first and second infusions. This way we can ensure the desired balance in the coffee extraction.

So at this point in the extraction, we decide the intensity of the sweetness. The ratio of water and coffee within the first extraction stage determines the weight of the second brew. For this reason, we should plan a little from the start.

The larger the amount of the second infusion, the more sweetness we can emphasize. Another important factor that influences our brewing result is the intensity of the infusion. Because the movement of the coffee particles has a significant influence on the coffee extraction. The gentler this movement, the milder the extraction. However, an overly aggressive casting style is generally not a good idea. With this you quickly get an undefined and over-extracted cup of coffee.

Third infusion

Almost there! During the last 60% to 70% we are now striving for balance and balance in our coffee. The most important variable here: the infusion itself. Too much movement of the coffee particles can cause unwanted bitterness. In order to avoid this in any case, we can also divide the infusion into several. This extends the duration of the extraction and can therefore also increase the strength of the coffee extraction.

In my experience, you can even repeat this step up to six times without negatively affecting your brewing result. However, each of these small infusions should not last longer than 45 seconds and no shorter than 20 seconds.

This described method can lead to delicious results, especially for coffee that is otherwise not so full-bodied!

Conclusion: What do I have to consider for precise coffee extraction?

Planning is everything : Each phase of coffee extraction affects the taste and quality of your coffee in the cup. So it's best to start with a clear idea of ​​what flavors and characteristics you want to achieve during coffee extraction. Plan ahead how you will craft the different infusions to achieve the desired balance of acidity, sweetness, and strength.

Accuracy is key : Pay attention to every detail, from the amount of coffee powder to the water temperature and brew time. Even small deviations can make a big difference in the brewing result. Always use a scale here to weigh your coffee powder and the amount of water! In general, I can recommend that you start with even weight and time divisions.

Learning from Experience : Every cup of filter coffee is an opportunity to learn. Write down your approach, adjustments made, and tastes. This way, over time, you can develop a better understanding of coffee extraction and improve your brewing skills.

Ultimately, coffee extraction is a beautiful ritual and an ongoing process that, however, requires precision. Experiment and find out which brewing method best suits your personal taste!

Isn't that enough geeky knowledge and practical tips for hand-brewing coffee for you? If you want to find out more, the SUEDHANG brew guide is now available for you as a paperback. BREW is an introduction to making coffee by hand, written by me, Mikolaj Pociecha. Together with Martin and Robin from SUEDHANG and 60beans we have published a brew guide that wants to bring you closer to the wonderful world of filter coffee. Here's a comprehensive guide and our combined knowledge of hand brewing coffee.

Have fun brewing, trying out and reading!

FAQ Coffee and Extraction

What is coffee extraction and why is it important?

Coffee extraction is the process of running hot water through ground coffee powder, extracting aromas, flavors and caffeine from the coffee beans. This process determines the taste and strength of your coffee and forms the basis for the preparation.

What are the three phases of coffee extraction?

The extraction proceeds in different phases: Flowering phase: This is where carbon dioxide is released to avoid unpleasant acidity in the coffee. The amount of the first brew affects the acidity, while the water-to-coffee ratio and brewing time are important. The recommended time is 30-45 seconds and the water temperature should be appropriate. Second brew: This is where the sweetness of the coffee is controlled. The ratio of the first infusion affects the weight of the second infusion, which can bring out the sweetness. The intensity of the pour is crucial, but too much aggressiveness can lead to over-extraction. Third steep: In the last 60-70% of the extraction one strives for balance. The movement of the coffee particles should be limited to avoid bitterness. A division into several small infusions is possible in order to vary the strength and duration of the extraction.

What are the benefits of splitting into multiple infusions?

The division allows precise control of taste and strength. Each infusion affects the outcome, so dividing it up helps find balance.

What role does the roasting of the coffee beans play in the extraction?

Roasting affects the level of carbon dioxide in the beans. The lighter the roast, the more carbon dioxide is trapped. This gas can affect the extraction and should be taken into account.

What role do accessories play in coffee extraction?

The right equipment, such as a kettle, scale, brewing device and filter, is important for precise extraction. It allows better control over the brewing process and the result.

Why is planning important for coffee extraction?

Each phase influences the coffee taste. Plan ahead what flavors you want to achieve to achieve the balance of acidity, sweetness, and strength. A clear plan will help achieve the desired result.

What role does accuracy play in coffee extraction?

Accuracy is crucial. Pay attention to details such as the amount of coffee powder, water temperature and infusion time. Even small deviations can affect the result. Use a scale to precisely weigh the coffee powder and amount of water.

How can I learn from my coffee extraction experience?

Note your approach, adjustments, and tastes. This will give you a better understanding of extraction and improve your brewing skills.

Where can I find more knowledge and information about hand brewing coffee?

For comprehensive information and practical tips, you can find the SUEDHANG "brew guide" online. This guide provides an introduction to making coffee by hand and will help you develop your skills.