What is a weak coffee anyway 

In the light of objective coffee the definition of “weak” becomes problematic.

I was talking with a barista who said they do a ristretto for weak and a normale for normal. They do this for consistency. 

I argued a ristretto is exactly as “strong” as a normale. Look at this:

Ristretto dose 20g, yield 30g, TDS 11.5% = 4.5 grams of coffee dissolved into final cup. 

Normale dose 20g,yeild 50g, TDS 9% = 4.5 grams of coffee dissolved into final cup. 

Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) is the objective scientific measure of strength. The ristretto is technically as STRONG as the normale. 

The problem is with the definition the request. When a customer ask for a WEAK  coffee they could be asking for 

  • Less caffeine 
  • Less bitterness 
  • A lighter roast 
  • More watery flavour 

We don’t know what they want when they ask for weak. The customer doesn’t know what they want. Are they asking for less coffee in their coffee? Perhaps. However that won’t achieve any of the above outcomes. In fact a ristretto will achieve the opposite of the above in most cases. 

As baristas and owners  in the coffee community we have to move away from subjective coffee. 

I prescribe using a fixed recipe for a balanced espresso and pouring out half the shot –  after mixing – to create a “weak” coffee. That way the balanced full espresso that is extracted evenly will be mixed and when you pour out half you  will have half the amount of a great espresso rather than the first part of a bad espresso. 

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