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I went into this new specialty coffee shop today, they had a nice place and very informative brochures about the coffee beans they were using that day, happened to be a top quality Brazilian product whose the beans looked nicely roasted, the barista showed expertise in preparing my espresso and answered all my questions with patience. I was savoring my coffee even before it was served, but it was a big disappointment, the brew was extremely acidic (we are talking lemon-juice acid here) and with a such a rough texture that dulled my tongue to other flavors. I did not enjoy my coffee at all. I complained to the barista about the acidity (as we had discussed acidity and he assured me that the coffee was not acidic at all) and he offered to prepare a new coffee with the same result. My question is, given that Brazilian coffee beans are probably the least acidic ones, what could have gone wrong with the brewing to yield such awful tasting product ?

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    This is a super loaded question. I don't have time to write a good answer to this now and likely won't soon, so just know that hard beans (like those typically sourced from Brazil) are plenty acidic when fresh, that water (or more specifically the solutes dissolved in the water) plays an important role in the resulting brew, that coffee roast level affects brew acidity, and that bean preparation method (washed vs unwashed, mainly) affects brew acidity. There are a lot of moving parts that go into that cup of specialty joe. And the why is a trip down Chemistry Lane, too.
    – R Mac
    Jul 11 at 3:01
  • Can you briefly explain how washed vs unwashed affects acidity ? I think that washed beans should be less acidic but i'm not sure..
    – Elfarto
    Jul 12 at 15:07
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    Coffee beans are actually seeds plucked from the cherries of coffee trees. Because of this, they are naturally coated with sugary residue when sold in their natural form. Washing removes those sugars, which changes the flavor of the brew eventually made with those beans. The sugar content doesn't reduce acidity actually, but it does curb the tart taste a bit, meaning washed varieties generally taste more acidic than unwashed.
    – R Mac
    Jul 12 at 15:31

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