Brewing Tips to Highlight Acidity

with Dustin Ryan Yu, Director of Coffee

A couple of issues ago, I wrote a piece on how to reduce acidity. A lot of people associate acidity with sourness, and I think it’s important to distinguish that good acidity should be balanced with good sweetness, where the acidity reminds you more of juiciness rather than biting into a lemon, for example.

Here are some tips on how I might approach brewing in order to get it closer to tasting a certain way:

Pick your origin and process:

Certain origins and processes could highlight more acidity. For example, coffees from Colombia, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Ecuador generally have lots of bright acidity. And washed processed coffees have more of a bright, sparking acidity, whereas natural and honey-processed coffees usually have a more jammy, marmalade-like sweetness and acidity balance.

Pick your roast level:

There are multiple distinct acids in coffee, and the roasting process changes how these acids taste. Acids are broken down in the roasting process, and generally, lighter roast coffees have more acidity, and darker coffees have reduced perceptible acidity.

Change your brewing process:

Grind finer, pour slightly faster, and increase your dose: I find that brewing faster at a 1:15 or 1:16 ratio, and adding bypass as well, can highlight clarity in the cup. This could bring out more complex notes and subtle layers of the coffee that remind you of the acidity. 
Use a slightly higher temperature (94-96C) to brew. In lighter roasts with more acidity, it’s important to keep a high temperature in the slurry to combat the density of the coffee, and to increase solubility and extraction. As always, finding the perfect balance is key!
Most coffee acidity is actually extracted at the beginning of the brew process. If you are using a manual pour over method for example, a different technique to try would be to skip the bloom, or to reduce the number of stages in a multiple stage pouring process. Additionally, you could also try increasing the amount of water in the blooming process, such as a 80-120g bloom.

Change your brewing method:

In my personal experience, cone filter pour over methods generally bring out more acidity than wave style filters. I’d recommend playing around with the parainmeters whilst using a V60 filter in an Origami dripper.