18 episodes

The Science of Coffee is a journey into coffee's hidden microscopic secrets to help you make even better coffee at home.

Documentary maker and coffee professional James Harper travels the world and speaks with leading coffee scientists to help you appreciate coffee more deeply.

You are going to get taken into the science of water, coffee extraction, plant genetics, espresso technology, latte foam, sonic seasoning, our sense of taste and smell, organic farming, roasting, grinding and freshness, and how to think like a scientist.

Press the Subscribe button so you don't miss future episodes!

The Science of Coffee is a spin-off series from James Harper's documentary podcast Filter Stories.
Follow James on Instagram: https://bit.ly/2Mlkk0O
Listen to Filter Stories: https://bit.ly/3ajoT5

The Science of Coffee Coffee Podcasts

    • Science
    • 4.8 • 17 Ratings

The Science of Coffee is a journey into coffee's hidden microscopic secrets to help you make even better coffee at home.

Documentary maker and coffee professional James Harper travels the world and speaks with leading coffee scientists to help you appreciate coffee more deeply.

You are going to get taken into the science of water, coffee extraction, plant genetics, espresso technology, latte foam, sonic seasoning, our sense of taste and smell, organic farming, roasting, grinding and freshness, and how to think like a scientist.

Press the Subscribe button so you don't miss future episodes!

The Science of Coffee is a spin-off series from James Harper's documentary podcast Filter Stories.
Follow James on Instagram: https://bit.ly/2Mlkk0O
Listen to Filter Stories: https://bit.ly/3ajoT5

    Freshness and Grinding, Part 2: How grinders work deep inside

    Freshness and Grinding, Part 2: How grinders work deep inside

    Deep inside your coffee grinder, tiny changes can have massive consequences. 

    This episode takes you deep inside Mahlkönig’s grinders to show you how coffee is ground and the importance of particle sizes on flavour. 

    If you’re a home coffee lover, you could easily spend thousands of dollars on your coffee grinder. But after diving deep into the R&D of grinder manufacturing, I learned that after a certain point spending more probably won’t produce a better tasting cup of coffee for you! 



    ---------

    Please spread the word about The Science of Coffee! 

    Discover how I make these Filter Stories episodes by subscribing to my Substack newsletter. 

    Write a review on Apple Podcasts
    Follow me on Instagram and tag me in an Instagram story
    Leave a 5 star rating on Spotify

    Explore Mahlkönig’s range of world leading grinders, trusted by baristas globally.


    Go deeper into the world of grinding 

    Take Barista Hustle’s Advanced Espresso course
    Learn from Lance Hedrick where the sweet spot is for buying a coffee grinder
    Get super nerdy with Jonathan Gagné’s writings on grinding
    Read up on Samo Smrke’s work on coffee fines


    Connect with my very knowledgeable guests 

    Arnaldo Rodrigues - LinkedIn
    Luca Lange - LinkedIn
    Chris Meier - LinkedIn
    Dario Burger - Instagram


    The Science of Coffee is made possible by these leading coffee organisations: 

    BWT Water and More
    Marco Beverage Systems
    ROEST
    Sustainable Harvest
    Mahlkönig



    The Science of Coffee is a spin-off series from James Harper's documentary podcast Filter Stories

    Subscribe to A History of Coffee podcast

    • 47 min
    Freshness and Grinding, Part 1: Protecting your coffee's flavours

    Freshness and Grinding, Part 1: Protecting your coffee's flavours

    For your coffee to taste its best, it’s crucial you buy fresh roasts and grind fresh.…
    .….Or maybe not. 

    When I began creating this episode, I was convinced that ‘fresh is best’. But, after delving into the science of coffee freshness, I don’t believe that anymore. 

    This episode goes deep into how diffusion and oxidation changes a coffee’s flavours.

    You’ll learn what it takes to store your coffee grounds unbelievably well. So well, that if you do it right, you will struggle to taste the difference between two month old coffee compared to those same beans freshly ground!

    But here’s the weirdest thing: Maybe, just maybe, you will prefer old coffee more than the fresh stuff.


    ----------

    Please spread the word about The Science of Coffee!

    Discover how I make these Filter Stories episodes by subscribing to my Substack newsletter. 

    Leave a 5 star rating on Spotify
    Follow me on Instagram and tag me in an Instagram story
    Write a review on Apple Podcasts

    Explore Mahlkönig’s range of world leading grinders, trusted by baristas globally.



    Dive deeper into the science of coffee freshness

    Do a Certificate of Advanced Studies with the Coffee Excellence Centre

    Pick up a copy of the SCA’s Coffee Freshness Handbook


    Connect with my very knowledgeable guests

    Samo Smrke - Instagram
    19 Grams Coffee Roasters in Berlin - Instagram
    Arnaldo Rodrigues - LinkedIn


    The Science of Coffee is made possible by these leading coffee organisations:

    BWT Water and More
    Marco Beverage Systems
    ROEST
    Sustainable Harvest
    Mahlkönig


    The Science of Coffee is a spin-off series from James Harper's documentary podcast Filter Stories

    Subscribe to A History of Coffee podcast

    • 49 min
    What Is Good Science? Part 2: How to think like a scientist

    What Is Good Science? Part 2: How to think like a scientist

    In the last episode, I discovered that rinsing my Chemex filter papers was a waste of time! As a result I’ve managed to claw back over seven days of my life left on earth. 

    But why stop there? 

    The coffee industry is full of elaborate ways of brewing and savouring coffee: fancy drippers, cold metal balls, “slurp-able” cupping spoons.

    These are very fun, but how many of them actually affect the flavour of our coffee?

    I fear elaborate coffee gear is wasting our time and money. They're distracting us from the existential crises in coffee that actually require all our attention now. For example, the issue of farmers who grow delicious coffees quitting the business because it’s just getting too hard. 

    But to figure out whether a popular new coffee tool was actually waste of time or not, I needed to think like a scientist. 

    This episode is the journey I went on to rewire my brain: I had to learn what good evidence looks like, what to do if I can’t find good evidence, and why it’s important to focus mostly on experimental results while resisting the allure of a compelling theory. 


    Please spread the word about The Science of Coffee!

    Discover how I make these Filter Stories episodes by subscribing to my Substack newsletter. 

    Leave a 5 star rating on Spotify
    Follow me on Instagram and tag me in an Instagram story
    Write a review on Apple Podcasts

    Discover this episode’s sponsor BWT’s water filtration products. I use their Penguin magnesium filter cartridges and cafes can use their BestAqua ROC


    Dive deeper into the science of slurping, water and Signal Detection Theory

    Do a Certificate of Advanced Studies with the Coffee Excellence Centre
    Read Georgiana’s paper on soup slurping
    Learn more about Signal Detection Theory
    Explore BWT White Paper on the effects of magnesium (German)
    Browse Christopher Hendon’s book Water for Coffee 
    Take Barista Hustle's Water course 
    Watch James Hoffman's water video


    Connect with my very knowledgeable guests

    Morten Munchow - Coffee Mind website
    Jeremy Nelson - LinkedIn
    Samo Smrke - Instagram
    Georgiana Juravle - Google Scholar
    Young Baek - Instagram
    Frank Neuhausen - LinkedIn
    Sergio Barbarisi - a href="https://bit.ly/4cyGCna" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer...

    • 55 min
    What Is Good Science? Part 1: How to brew coffee like a scientist

    What Is Good Science? Part 1: How to brew coffee like a scientist

    Should you rinse your filter paper before making a filter coffee? Almost everybody in coffee internet says you should. 

    But what if most of coffee internet was wrong?

    In this episode, I show you how I try to answer this question like a professional sensory scientist would. 

    It’s hard. It’s frustrating. But ultimately, it’s worth it because I end up saving seven days of my life left on earth!


    Please spread the word about The Science of Coffee!

    Discover how I make these Filter Stories episodes by subscribing to my Substack newsletter

    Leave a 5 star rating on Spotify
    Follow me on Instagram and tag me in an Instagram story
    Write a review on Apple Podcasts

    Bring out vibrancy in your coffee with BWT’s magnesium water filters for the home and cafe


    Dive deeper into sensory science methodologies

    Take Becky Bleibaum’s free introductory sensory science course! 
    Set up a triangulation yourself with DragonflySci’s worksheets
    Understand Rose Marie Pangborn’s three step process better with Morten Münchow (“Pangborn’s Razor”)
    Do a Certificate of Advanced Studies with the Coffee Excellence Centre


    Connect with my very knowledgeable guests

    Morten Munchow - Coffee Mind website
    Becky Bleibaum - LinkedIn
    Samo Smrke - Instagram
    Sophie Vo - LinkedIn


    The Science of Coffee is made possible by these leading coffee organisations:

    BWT Water and More
    Marco Beverage Systems
    ROEST
    Sustainable Harvest
    Mahlkönig


    The Science of Coffee is a spin-off series from James Harper's documentary podcast Filter Stories

    Subscribe to A History of Coffee podcast

    • 46 min
    Organic Coffee, Part 2: Why don't we see more organic coffee farms?

    Organic Coffee, Part 2: Why don't we see more organic coffee farms?

    Farming coffee organically is amazing because soils are more alive, birds and insects are more plentiful, farmers avoid getting sick with agrochemicals.

    But, if it’s so great, why is less than 10% of the world’s coffee grown organically?

    The fact is, going organic is hard. Much harder than growing coffee conventionally.

    In this episode I show you the story of one of Central America’s most successful organic coffee cooperatives, RAOS, and the four big hurdles that stood in the way of their early founders who all dreamed of converting their farms to organic.

    This story changed my understanding of farming and is now the reason I choose organic specialty coffee whenever I can.


    Please spread the word about The Science of Coffee!

    Discover how I make these Filter Stories episodes by subscribing to my Substack newsletter

    Follow me on Instagram and tag me in an Instagram story
    Write a review on Apple Podcasts
    Leave a 5 star rating on Spotify


    Dive deeper into organic coffee

    Learn more about Sustainable Harvest’s Most Valuable Producer programme, their cupping app Tastify, and explore their range of certified organic and Fairtrade coffees

    Explore RAOS (Cooperativa Regional Mixta de Agricultores Organicos de la Sierra)'s story for yourself

    Are you a coffee farmer? Get in touch with Lalo Perez Varaona


    Connect with my very knowledgeable guests

    Lalo Perez Varaona - LinkedIn
    Jorge Cuevas - LinkedIn
    Andrea Futterer - GEPA website
    Osman Contreras - LinkedIn
    Roberto Rene Gonzales - Farm website


    The Science of Coffee is made possible by these leading coffee organisations

    BWT Water and More
    Marco Beverage Systems
    ROEST
    Sustainable Harvest
    Mahlkönig


    The Science of Coffee is a spin-off series from James Harper's documentary podcast a href="https://bit.ly/3ajoT5e" target="_blank"...

    • 41 min
    Organic Coffee, Part 1: The magic of soil

    Organic Coffee, Part 1: The magic of soil

    The world’s farming soils are deteriorating quickly.

    Conventional coffee farming where plants are grown using agrochemicals allowed farmers to reap huge harvests these last 70 years. But these agrochemicals have been at the expense of soil health.

    I travel to Honduras to explore a potential solution: organic coffee farming.

    Come with me as I show you the organic farming tricks of Don Rufino, one of the region’s leading organic farmers.

    He nurtures the soil around his coffee trees using mountain microorganisms, a huge diversity of shade trees, attentive tree pruning, and very funky batches of homemade bug spray.

    The results speak for themselves: when I pick up a handful of his soil, it is moist, dense and writhing with life.

    Could these cultivation techniques be the answer to the coffee world’s declining soil health?


    Please spread the word about The Science of Coffee!

    Discover how I make these Filter Stories episodes by subscribing to my Substack newsletter!


    Follow me on Instagram and tag me in an Instagram story
    Write a review on Apple Podcasts
    Leave a 5 star rating on Spotify



    Dive deeper into organic coffee

    Explore Sustainable Harvest’s range of certified organic and Fairtrade coffees
    Are you a coffee farmer? Get in touch with Lalo Perez Varaona
    Check out Don Rufino’s organic cooperative, RAOS


    Connect with my very knowledgeable guests

    Lalo Perez Varaona - LinkedIn
    Tommie Hooft van Huysduynen - LinkedIn
    Alison Streaker - LinkedIn


    The Science of Coffee is made possible by these leading coffee organisations

    BWT Water and More
    Marco Beverage Systems
    ROEST
    Sustainable Harvest
    Mahlkönig


    The Science of Coffee is a spin-off series from James Harper's documentary podcast Filter Stories

    Subscribe to A History of Coffee...

    • 38 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
17 Ratings

17 Ratings

Tap-zoo beast ,

Best podcast on coffee science

I really enjoyed this podcast from start to finish. Everything was well researched and super useful for both a casual and expert coffee drinker. I highly recommend listening to this even if you want just a little more knowledge.

Roni T T ,

History of Coffee Review

This is the best podcast series I’ve ever heard.

carmen salsa ,

Best coffee podcast based on science

As.a chemical engineer who loves coffee, I can say this is the best podcast that summarizes coffee science in a approachable fun way! Waiting for more episodes!

Top Podcasts In Science

Hidden Brain
Hidden Brain, Shankar Vedantam
Short Wave
NPR
StarTalk Radio
Neil deGrasse Tyson
Radiolab
WNYC Studios
Ologies with Alie Ward
Alie Ward
Something You Should Know
Mike Carruthers | OmniCast Media | Cumulus Podcast Network

You Might Also Like

Filter Stories - Coffee Documentaries
James Harper
The Coffee Podcast
The Coffee Podcast
A History of Coffee
James Harper
Making Coffee with Lucia Solis
Lucia
Coffee. Science. Guru.
Coffee Science & Education Centre
Freakonomics Radio
Freakonomics Radio + Stitcher