TDS Coffee


TDS Coffee – In today’s technological era, coffee is no longer a side drink that is drunk while chatting in a roadside stall, but has leaned towards science. It’s no wonder that lately there are also many elements about coffee that have been studied by experts. If you’ve ever heard of TDS (or refractometer), it’s also one of the materials that is often tested in coffee. But what is TDS, what is it used for, how to measure it? Here we try to review it.

What is TDS?


What is TDS
What is TDS

TDS is an acronym for Total Dissolved Solids. Simply put, this TDS is the amount of solids (solids), both organic solids or non-organic materials such as magnesium and calcium, that are in the liquid. The explanation is even simpler, TDS is the level of solubility in liquids. Well, this TDS can mean good or bad, depending on what the liquid is, and how high the TDS level is.

In the “world” of coffee, TDS is the level and extraction level that is in the coffee drink. To measure TDS in coffee, the tool used is a refractometer—so, yes, it is a TDS meter, not internet banking tokens. Laugh out loud. This smart tool can measure the degree / level of the material dissolved in the coffee liquid.

Why is TDS important?

TDS can provide a variety of data and concrete information that is easy to analyze, where this data will help roasters, brewers, and baristas to measure and – ultimately – control (grade) coffee extraction.

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By knowing the basic information about this extraction, they will be able to improve, revise, and enhance the important elements in coffee, such as taste, mouth-feel or the consistency of the coffee blend itself. And in the end, everyone involved in the coffee industry, whether barista, brewer or roaster (it is hoped) can brew coffee well and balanced, especially when it comes to complexity and sweetness.

TDS on coffee

Initially TDS technology was used to analyze water, not brewed coffee. However, the increasingly massive development of this industry, especially in recent years, has made TDS technology applied to coffee brewed liquid as well. From there this technology then spread.

A fairly well-known technology development company called VST Inc. decided to create and develop a TDS setting for analyzing coffee in 2008. The result was a cool tool called a VST refractometer that measures TDS—as described above. This tool was also awarded the World’s First Refractometer for Coffee Beverages in the same year.

About coffee brewing chart

In 1960, an American institution that paid special attention to coffee brewing techniques called the Coffee Brewing Institute—now the name is Coffee Brewing Center, had released a graphic showing coffee brewing control data, or some kind of illustration of the mechanism that occurs during the brewing process.

The graphic that was first released was the result of research by a chemist named Ernest E. Lockhart whose research was supervised specifically by the National Coffee Association Committee in America. This research then formulates two important elements in coffee brewing, namely the taste of the coffee, and the level of brewing concentration (brew strength). These two elements are what we currently know as TDS, aka total dissolved solids.

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Most research conducted by coffee institutions generally agrees with the formula: a concentration level of about 1.15% – 1.35% with an extraction of 18% – 22% of the mass of coffee grounds.

Other coffee associations such as the Norwegian Coffee Association also recommend a ‘formula’ that is almost the same, namely 18% – 22% extraction but with a concentration level ranging from 1.30% – 1.55%. Meanwhile, the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE) recommends a formula of 18% – 22% extraction and 1.2% – 1.45% concentration level.

From this data, it can be concluded that the general TDS standards are actually not much different from each other. And this solubility level is still considered good if the extraction percentage is around 18% – 22% with a concentration level between 1.15% – 1.55%.

More about this graph, can be seen in the following table:



Measuring the level of TDS in coffee can be a trap if the user does not pay attention to the trivial things and other details that also affect the taste of coffee. For example, water used for brewing. It is important to make sure that the water we use for brewing is also good.

The level of calcium thickness, alkalinity (i.e. the water’s capacity to neutralize additional acid without decreasing the pH value of the solution), chlorine and sodium in the water content will also have an effect on the taste of the coffee later. Sounds tricky, right? lol. Again, coffee today is a science.

If used properly, TDS will be an important asset, not only for the barista or roaster, but for everyone involved in the coffee industry.

Happy coffee analysis!