Refractometers are scientific instruments used to measure the refraction of light through liquids to get the refractive index. They are commonly found in laboratories to test plasma levels and to identify the composition of gemstones. Besides, refractometers measure the total dissolved solids of coffee or tea. If you want to have good control of coffee extraction, you can choose a coffee refractometer. This article will focus on what a coffee refractometer is, why it is useful, and how to use a refractometer.
coffee refractometer

What is TDS for coffee?

Have you ever heard the acronym TDS at coffee shops, cupping, or brewing competitions? TDS stands for total dissolved solids. Simply put, it’s how many substances you have extracted from your coffee.

Today, coffee total dissolved solids TDS measurement is a common method of quality control for coffee extraction. So, it is a standard for coffee roasters, coffee producers, and coffee lovers. To make a golden cup of coffee, you need both the best coffee beans and the best water. TDS total dissolved solids is a key factor when evaluating water quality. The measured TDS shows the total amount of dissolved solids in the water. The solids may contain salts, minerals, and other substances. The type and amount of dissolved solids may exert a great influence on its flavor. Since coffee is approximately 96% water, the TDS total dissolved solids of water will have a huge impact on the finished product quality.

TDS provides specific data to help measure and control professional coffee extraction. Because it tells how strong your coffee is to improve the flavor and texture of your coffee. Then you can produce a well-balanced coffee with good complexity and sweetness. To make a golden cup of coffee, the extraction rate needs to be 18-22%. But each type of coffee comes with different characteristics. So, don’t just aim for this golden range without considering the coffee taste.

coffee refractometer

What is a coffee refractometer?

Refractometers measure the refraction of light in a liquid to get the refractive index. When light passes through your cold brew coffee, it deflects to a certain angle. Brix is a measurement of solids dissolved in a liquid. TDS means how much solids are extracted from your coffee. To correlate brix and TDS, you can multiply the brix value by 0.85, then you can get an approximation value of TDS. But FJD brix refractometers can calculate the TDS for you with an accuracy of 0.1%.

A coffee refractometer determines the extraction yields and the amounts of coffee. So, you can use the coffee densitometer to measure the TDS of the coffee. Then, you can more accurately control the extraction percentage of ground coffee. Thus, coffee professionals and enthusiasts can get the best extraction yields for coffee.

The use of brix refractometer for coffee is becoming increasingly popular. A brix meter refractometer is an important tool for coffee brewing. Because it can determine the extraction level and coffee concentration. And coffee experts can use brix refractometers to ensure that a particular coffee meets the expectations of consumers. The impact of this tool is even greater for the premium type of coffee beans.

coffee tds meter

Who would use a TDS coffee meter and why?

Coffee is one of the world’s most popular drinks. Consumers ready to drink cold brew coffee or coffee concentrate are becoming more sophisticated about its taste. And measuring total dissolved solids TDS allows you to know the coffee extracted rate and the coffee concentration. Thus, the coffee industry may install TDS coffee meters in their workplaces.

Besides, roasters use TDS coffee meters to test the beans to check if the roast is developing evenly. Professional coffee baristas also need a handheld refractometer to measure the consistency of the extraction. And drinking coffee lovers may use this tool to get the best home-brewed coffee. Shop owners of specialty coffees require the TDS meters to scientifically control their coffee quality. And machine manufacturers may use it to check the constancy of their coffee machines.

Why is the coffee refractometer useful?

Measuring TDS is of great help for them to understand the correct roasting time, coffee extracted time, and other factors for a golden cup of coffee. If you are a roaster, a barista or you own a shop for specialty coffees, a coffee densitometer refractometer is definitely worth a try. Even coffee professionals cannot only depend on their senses. So, a pocket coffee refractometer is necessary. To determine the coffee quality, some scientific data will help build a standard. If you want to make an expresso taste, you can dial in your coffee.

The coffee flavor depends a lot on the amounts of coffee solids dissolved in the ground coffee. If too little is dissolved, the coffee may be acidic, salty, or under-extracted. If too much, the coffee may be bitter with a charcoal taste. The measured TDS can help you dial in your coffee if it tastes bad. Both the under-extracted coffee and over-extracted coffee are difficult to distinguish by your taste alone. If you know the TDS (how strong your coffee is) in the coffee samples, you can use it to calculate the extraction rate. Then you can understand scientifically why your coffee tastes bad or good.

coffee tds meter

How to use a TDS meter for coffee?

If you want to get the best extraction results, you can use a TDS meter for coffee. TDS stands for total dissolved solids. However, simply adding a coffee refractometer to your brewing kit does not guarantee that you will make a perfect cup of coffee. If you want to get accurate results from the TDS meter, you must know how to use it to measure coffee.

Using steps for a TDS meter for coffee:

The first step is to calibrate your refractometer. Turn on the refractometer and add brewed water or distilled water in sample plate. Next press the cal button to calibrate the refractometer. The meter will then display end and show 0.0%. Clean the refractometer with a clean cloth. Ensure that the brewed coffee cools to room temperature (Celsius or Fahrenheit). You can use a paper filter to get rid of the suspended solids. Coffees without using paper filters need filtering to get more accurate readings. For some refractometers, you need to press the scale button to select the scales.

The next step is to drip about 5 drops of coffee into the sample tank. Wait about a few seconds. Press the read button on the refractometer to measure. Then it will measure and display the brix and TDS reading on the screen. You’d better take several TDS and brix readings to ensure the accuracy of the result. And you can calculate the extraction percentage with the volume of your coffee. As for FJD refractometers, it integrates all functions in one button. So you don’t need to press the cal button, press the scale button and press the read button.

The final step is to clean the refractometer. Wipe off the coffee liquids after multiple measurements. And clean the refractometer with a cleaning cloth. (For some traditional refractometers, you need to wash the sample plate with distilled water or brewing water.) You can make some adjustments to the recipe to achieve the desired coffee strength. Then you will find the TDS for a high-quality brewed coffee.

refractometer coffee

Types of coffee TDS meters

Recently, many coffee roasters and coffee shops have used coffee TDS meters to ensure product quality. Some drinking coffee lovers also have this TDS meter at home. They can also help quality control if some beverage companies want to create new brands. And coffee TDS meters mainly include the two types below.

The first type is the digital brix refractometer for coffee.

Digital coffee refractometers have an accuracy between ±0.1% and ±0.2% brix units. The digital brix meter can measure coffee TDS and brix. Besides, the refractometer measures the temperature of the liquid sample. And it can record and send data through a mobile app. For this model, you only need to drip about 5 drops of sample for the measurement. The TDS measuring range of FJD digital coffee refractometers is 0%-23%. And the brix measuring range of this brix refractometer coffee is 0%-95%.

The second type is the optical brix refractometer for coffee.

The optical coffee refractometer is a cheap coffee refractometer than the digital refractometer. But it is larger in size compared to the digital one. Besides, this cheap coffee refractometer cannot measure and display coffee TDS. So, the cheap coffee refractometer only measures brix value. And the meter will display the readings with the light. As a result, the digital brix refractometer coffee is more popular in the coffee industry.

coffee tds meter

The best refractometer coffee

Do you want to take your coffee brewing to the next level? FJD best coffee refractometer is the ideal choice. This digital refractometer for coffee can determine the nuances of cold brew coffee strength with a resolution of 0.05%. Besides, it provides stable and correct TDS and brix readings even at a high temperature. Because it can work as an ATC refractometer for the automatic temperature control.

The FJD best coffee refractometer measures brix and the coffee TDS, as well as the sample temperature (Celsius or Fahrenheit). The optical refractometer for coffee is also not suitable for multiple samples. This is because you need to open the cover and close it repeatedly to measure the TDS. Besides, you must hold the meter toward the light when measuring. But if you use the FJD pocket coffee refractometer for measuring TDS, you only need a few drops of samples at a time.

Overall, the FJD Refractometer is easy to use and can get accurate results within seconds. After multiple measurements of coffee samples, the meter brix and TDS readings are consistent. For people ready to drink cold brew coffee or coffee concentrate, it is also a suitable meter. Thus, it is the best coffee refractometer at a reasonable price. Moreover, FJD comes with various kinds of refractometers for you to choose including the maple syrup refractometer. You can use it to measure maple syrup, coffee or tea.