Dissolution and extraction work because the solute molecules are attracted to the solvent molecules. The solute molecules then leave their place of origin to go hang out somewhere in the solvent. Think of a grain of salt, which is composed of many molecules of salt, as being a group of men in a room waiting to enter a dance hall. They aren’t allowed to go into the dance hall until a dance partner (a solvent molecule) comes to get them. If the dance partners walk up to the room to get a man, the room will empty at a certain rate. If the dance partners run to the room to grab a man, then the room will empty out at a faster rate. Thus, anything that speeds up the movement of the dance partners will speed up clearing out the room.
As discussed in the energy section, increasing the amount of energy in a molecule speeds up its movement. Thus, increasing the temperature of a solvent increases the rate of dissolution or extraction. Alternatively, manually agitating the entire system will also speed up the movement of the solvent and hasten the dissolution or extraction. Simply, agitation increases the number of encounters between the solute and the solvent.
When brewing coffee, this principle is manipulated least amongst all other parameters.
Rarely do brewers intentionally agitate a brewing system to speed things up. That said, most brew methods have a certain amount of agitation in them. For example, when water is dropped on a bed of coffee grounds, it trickles down through the grounds because of gravity. So, while the person brewing isn’t actively speeding up the brewing time by agitating the system, there is agitation occurring.
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