What does really matter in achieving good taste balance
It is easy for us to find a number of coffee roasters around. And this means that, not only different roasters exist but also so many different styles and expressions have been making diversity. It actually brings a lot more benefits, for example, helping the industry get bigger, and allowing customers to experience different things. The different things are not only different variety or processing of coffee but also tools, technics and some kind of nerdy stuff as well. But what diversity has brought to us is that, honestly, it has made everyone harder in brewing coffee. Millions of different styles mean millions or more of solutions. There are two roasters and although they use the same green, the result comes different. And this has made the people brew with a deeper understanding, otherwise, bad quality cups of coffee (maybe or maybe not).
Brew ratio matters
Well, the introduction was too long (sorry for that!) What I was going to say is what really matters in achieving good taste balance. As you may know, there are so many variables affecting the quality of (brewed) coffee such as brew ratio, grinding size, water, temperature, pressure, environment, barista's technic, etc. But among these, if I get to choose only one thing that can make a huge impact on the taste balance, I would go for the brew ratio.
What's brew ratio
Brew ratio is basically a ratio of coffee to water. In general (in case of filter coffee), 1:15(coffee to water) ~ 1:17 are easily findable from other baristas or coffee shops. Especially in Sydney, it is now almost like a standard. However, we should ask ourselves if that's really right and applicable for every coffee or not. What can be easily found in these days is that the filter coffee seems more developed than it was. Back in mid 2010's, there were a number of coffee roasters roasted their beans super light. We emphasised the floral, fruity and bright acidity rather than sweetness or body of the coffee. However, in these days, it seems like we are trying to make a balanced point between the complexity of the coffee and the sweetness and body of the coffee.
Why it works
To state clearer, brew ratio is the key to achieve good balance. This is because the brew ratio not only means just the ratio as ingredients but also it literally decides how much of each taste element - acidity, sweetness and bitterness - by increasing or decreasing the ratio. The reasons why different brew ratio should be applied first to achieve good balance from different coffees are, firstly, different roasting profiles make different development of the bean. To look at this in detail, different development degree generates different taste profile as it has come through the same but different degree and time for the physical and chemical reaction. Another reason is that changing the brew ratio is one of the easiest but fastest way of making the taste dramatically different. The shorter the stronger and brighter, and the longer the weaker but bitterer.
Good taste balance is very important for the pleasant coffee experience. Although some beans have a little different target to express their unique flavour characteristics, most of the beans should be brewed and delivered nice and gentle, smooth and flavourful. Thus, finding and achieving the right brew ratio should be done to get a better taste balance.