TCQ science: Coffee Density

Measure the density of coffee

Every roaster knows that for each coffee you need a different profile, sometimes you make small adaptations, sometimes it´s a completely different profile. Much of these distinctions are based on the density of a bean. High density indicates that with a similar volumetric measurement you have more weight. Water is quite dense. A liter of water weighs almost 1 kilogram at room temperature. The denser a coffee bean, the harder for heat to penetrate through the outer wall towards the core of the bean.


To measure the density of coffee, we will use a density measuring device. We setup a small test with the Sinar Beanpro 6070 and Lighttell MD-500, to achieve the following two things:

The Spectrum

To give you an idea of the spectrum of density for coffee beans. Low vs. High density.

The Output

To see the differences in output between both density meters.

After adding the green coffee to each machine using the measuring cup, we get the data output Density (g/l), Humidity (%) and Temperature (Celcius). To improve the significance of the result, it is important to take 3 measurements per test. In this test we have averaged 3 tests from 3 different samples per coffee. The chosen coffee’s com from Ethiopia (Small producers, Sidama gr. 2), Brazil (Estate lot Pulped Natural), Colombia (Small producers, combined group lot). All results are averages from 9 data points.


To see the full results, see Appendix A below this page. Notably, the Lighttell (our standard equipment in Amsterdam) consistently gives an output of 60g/l higher, and roundabout 0,6% humidity lower. However, between the coffees the average difference between the coffees on the same measurer are relatively similar.


No matter what method is used, as long as the same method is carried out and compared to results from the same machine. Then the results can be used as base number to compare differences in density. Reading the numbers will give you an insight on how the coffee will roast, blend or grind, before the first roast. These spectra can be extracted from the 3 different coffees used in this experiment.

Spectrum of Sinar Low 700 - Medium 750 - High 800
Spectrum of Lighttell: Low 750 - Medium 800 - High 850

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