Blooming is considered the final stepping stone in making a flavourful, well balanced and extracted cup of coffee, with some aficionados claiming that you may have the best beans, the best grinder and the best rig, but if you don't bloom, your coffee will taste funky! So, what is blooming? Why do we do it, and how does it affect the flavour of the coffee?
Blooming is a process of releasing the stored up carbon dioxide gases and a number of other oils and ingredients that get locked inside the beans during the roasting process. It usually looks like a foamy, puffy layer above the ground coffee beans when hot water is poured over it. This process of releasing the stored up CO2 is called ‘degassing’ and it helps in extracting all the goodness of the coffee beans that you want.
Coffee has a number of volatile compounds which provide it’s characteristic flavour and texture. These compounds need to be extracted from the roasted coffee beans and the best way of achieving that is degassing the ground coffee beans. During roasting, the carbon dioxide and the volatile compounds are trapped inside the bean which slowly releases the gas. When hot water comes in contact, the gas is released at an exponential rate which results in the bloom and also extracts all the healthy and tasty compounds from the beans. The bloom can be observed when the ground coffee beans puff up and form a foamy layer due to the gasses being released.
If we don’t bloom our coffee, what will happen instead is the gas released during the process of pouring hot water will repel water from coming in contact with the grounds. This does not lead to proper extraction of the compounds and the coffee tastes sour and under-extracted. Blooming basically allows the gas to expel and to make room for water to enter the spaces between the grounds and properly extract all the goodies. This effect is known as turbulence.
Note: If your coffee doesn’t bloom, it has become stale or has been roasted for too long and won’t taste near as good as freshly roasted ground coffee beans.
Here are some ways you can store your coffee beans after roasting so that most of the tasty compounds are locked in till the day you brew.
Depending on the time duration since roasting and the storing, coffee beans usually become stale after two weeks from roasting. A lot of the gases are released during this process and continue to slowly seep out over the period of time. Storage plays a huge role in making sure the beans don’t lose too much of the gases and volatile compounds. There are basically two types of storage techniques you can use –
There are other variables such as storage temperature, humidity, bean hardness, level of roast, and origin. However, the most important thing is your coffee should bloom otherwise it is over roasted or stale and that leads to a disappointing brew.
Generally, blooming is done prior to filtering the coffee and only enough water is used so that all of the coffee grounds are evenly watered but not so much that it filters through. After a minute, the rest of the hot water is poured over the bloomed or degassed coffee grounds and a well balanced, extracted cup of coffee is ready to drink!
This method can be used for pour over coffee, by ensuring the hot water (200F or 98C) is poured in a circular manner starting either from the centre and making your way to the outer rim or the reverse manner. You can do it either way, just make sure the water is poured evenly so you can get an even extraction from your ground coffee.
If you are using a French press, blooming is done by pouring water over the coarsely ground beans and letting the gas release for 30 seconds and giving it a good stir with a long spoon. After that you can pour the rest of the water.
If you are using an automatic drip machine, it’s better to use a high quality filter, preferably those filters which are capable of stopping most of the fouler flavoured oils and the sludge from seeping through. Pour the ground coffee beans and give it a shake to make the surface plain. Pour hot water evenly over the coffee and let it soak for a minute to a minute and a half, then simply operate the machine as normal. You can find the ideal filters here.
You can experiment with the soak times and see what suits your taste, but you will definitely enjoy the benefits a simple blooming technique will bring to your cup of coffee!
Now with that blooming know-how under your belt, go ahead and give it a try. Experiment and find your taste. Brew better coffee at home in no time(seriously!).
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