A problem with blade grinders is that they can generate heat, and that you may be doing an unintended toast of your coffee. Aside from the fact that they are highly inconsistent unless, as you point out, you are trying to grind very fine to almost powder.
Nice pieces. In the body vs clarity spectrum, a metal filter leans toward the former compared to paper filters. Preferences.
For the light to light medium roast beans that I usually favor, my default is 207F kettle temp. Going hotter tends to increase acidity and not agree with my stomach.
I agree that this is key.
Likewise. I find pour over to reveal more of the bean and communicate more of its origin’s/farm’s time and place. My goal is to drink coffee black, unadulterated. I do like the texture of espresso.
I also use separate kettles and water. Brewing water is precious! Calcium chloride has been effective for me with dialing in alkalinity and hardness. One of my biggest breakthroughs for coffee was understanding that water is a solvent, not an ingredient.
That’s an excellent pour over setup. I think you’re set and you can focus on beans, water, recipe, execution - before considering other grinders. You can also consider a stand and second scale to track coffee output.
True, although I haven’t come across a viable hand grinder with flat burrs not conical burrs.
I looked at this sort of setup when I was considering scales. At this point, however, I’m not sure how I’d use the data in real-time*, which seems to be the only thing a two-scale setup would get me vs. just knowing the weight of the container I’m brewing into, and subtracting it out after I’m done.
If there’s a practical use for it, however, I could easily go for an Acaia Pearl S + Lunar on the Atlas stand. Though my tolerance for fussiness/flakiness with app-driven systems is very low, so unless it connected first time, every time, it’d be a very short lived solution!
Good point. You could use the output reading to have a consistent, measurable way to determine when the brew is finished without waiting for all water to pass through the beans or relying on sight. The last few drops of water through the beans unfavorably (for my preferences) have the most bitterness and weakest flavor, so I cut off the brew before then based on the output reading.
This video illustrates.
Likewise. Pour over is a ritual of sorts for me, preferably free of screens.
Hadn’t considered that!
I’m in the same camp in regards to the last drops and their deleterious effect on the cup. I like a hint of bitterness, at the end of the taste, in my darker roasts, but just a hint … and not with everything.
Amazing how just a FEW drops of that end-brew water can really shift the taste of the cup.
So far, I’d just been waiting until the stream becomes drips, and then pulling the brewer off the moment they became one discernible drip at a time. That’s worked so far, but it isn’t very convenient, and only works for transparent vessels. I usually brew into a carafe anyway, just for some extra aeration before drinking, but not always.
Hmmmm … might be time to tool up and go shopping …
It’s very much like spinning vinyl for me, in that regard.
I agree. There’s a balance.
It really is.
I used to do the same, or monitor the moment when all water disappeared and flowed through at the top of the coffee bed.
I do think this is effective. It also cools the coffee closer to my preferred drinking temperature compared to brewing straight into the drinking vessel.
I agree. There is a certain level of commitment that is required, but worth it.
I’m with you on that, it’s just not as “recherche” as pulled shots. I have this one, it works great and is quite interesting looking (as in I like it!)
Been into the coffee thing for 3 years mainly due to store bought crap which has too much acidic attributes that messes up my belly not to mention their shelf life can be into the weeks and weeks which impacts the overall taste. I got two decent grinders to use at our different places, a Baratza Encore and a OXO to grind my own whole beans, a MoccaMaster brewer and at the other house a Breville Precision plus various whole bean storage containers and we found a couple of roasters we can trust that roast on the ship date or note roast date on the bag which is a day or a few days before ship. The wife and I only do drip so life has been good for me and the misses since then.
I don’t tolerate more acidic coffee very well either. It wasn’t until the last month (well, 5 weeks now), that I realized that coffee isn’t all like that!
A lot of the medium and light(er) roasts I’ve tried in the last few weeks have been a lot closer to a rich/dark tea, with sweetness and fruit and berry flavors than what I’d had always assumed was the more typical “coffee” flavor.
And while I’d read, here and there, over the years, about how much freshness matters with coffee … tasting the difference first hand really brought home that the difference is truly enormous. Especially close to the roasting date.
As I’ve been looking at coffee and coffee gear reviews though, it’s clear there’s a lot of similar nonsense going on as there is in the audio world. “Oh, yes, DELICIOUS!” the reviewer will exclaim, without actually having told you what coffee they are brewing with the new, shiny, gadget(s) or techniques.
I got two coffees in this week … both of which were very well “reviewed”. Both were praised to the rafters …
One was absolutely delicious, with amazing complexity, sweetness, a lot of fruit, a hint of chocolate/cocoa and no bitterness at all (unless I fiddled with the extraction level to force some, mostly via grinding finer). Pretty much exactly what every review said it would be.
The other … nothing I could do, no matter how I changed the temperature, grind size, brewing method (pour over, immersion, hybrid, drip) or recipe got more than trivial variation in a flavor all of which was down to how strong the sense of cocoa in the finish was. Couldn’t get any of the sweetness or honey flavors that were praised.
Could be my brewing technique, but I modified all the variables, one at a time, over the entire bag, and it was just … well … not much different to any regulars pre-ground store bought stuff.
And … this was the one bag I have that doesn’t show a roasting date (or even a best-before date). So I have to assume it is just older.
Just saying, but there’s a lot of pretty bad Jamaican Blue Mountain out there. Usually over roasted, over the sell by date, and over priced.
The one that didn’t turn out is a blend. Supposed to be a medium roast, but is very dark. But then it is also decaf (don’t ask how that happened … I plead the 5th*), so the SWP tends to cause that (from what I’ve read). Would not surprise me if it was roasted a while ago. It’s not bad … it’s just simple and not very flavorful or interesting. It might also have been the “free bag” in the 4-bag trial subscription it is part of.
Another I tried today, via my first coffee subscription (Angel’s Cup, Black Box, Medium Roast) was amazing. That was from Black Oak Coffee - specifically their “Mexico, Veracruz - Natural”.
Clear and vibrant citrus/berry notes on the nose and the first taste. Juicy through the middle. Nice body. Hints of caramelized sugar and very dark chocolate, with a lovely slightly bitter final bite. Grinding a notch higher took out the hint of bitterness in the finish, but I actually much preferred it with.
I’m sure I sound like every other cringe-inducing noob in any new hobby right now. All excited, and like I have some idea what I’m doing (I read a LOT, and am practicing my brewing and experimenting … but it’s just week 5), and going on like I’m the first to discover all this …
Maybe it’s time for a coffee …
*Actually, I’ve had three different decaf coffees from Volcanica (which the problematic coffee above is not) - mostly because it was available same/next day, and was roasted <30 days ago … <14 in one case) that have all been entirely enjoyable, reasonably complex, and distinctly different - and married up well to what the tasting notes said. Though a couple of those could easily be a daily-decaf option.
Another thing we found out was our water. Our coffee never really tasted right, tried some many different roasters and even store brands but its was never right. For the heck of it we got bottled water and made coffee for a full week. The went back to our “city” water. The coffee was horrible. So we stuck to bottled water for a few years and after we moved to our new house last Friday, the water here is just awesome.
You might brew with caffeinated water. Just saying.
Yes, I’d read about how big an effect water had on the end result very early on, which makes total sense. So I’d been addressing that since almost the start. I’ve been using distilled water that I remineralize since the same week I got my first grinder.
Started with the Third Wave Water stuff, and am now playing around with my own ratios.
Something I did think to do, largely as a result of getting things “out of order” when brewing, was to weigh every vessel that I have coffee in, or that coffee or water goes in/through, including the dry and wet weights of all the different filter types I have on hand and those of my kettles.
That means, when I’m doing something fiddly to make coffee, before I’ve had any coffee, and I screw it up, or forget to tare the scale, I can quickly sort that out.
After 15 years of drinking filtered, UV treated rainwater pretty much all municipal water tastes terrible.
A friend of mine who is a Jedi master-level coffee maker once made me some coffee. He brought all his equipment to my place, including his own water, and we had a pour over tasting, to see if I could tell the difference between different drippers (I could). Best coffee I’ve ever had. The taste was complex, with all the fruity overtones of the coffee berries coming through.
But as much as I was astounded by the taste, I realized how much discipline and work it must have taken to get to that level of skill, and I realized that this was not a rabbit hole I was prepared to dive into, because I would become obsessed.
So I set myself limits, and decided to “freestyle” my coffee making. Rather than weighing the beans each time. I weighed the coffee beans once and converted that into an approximate number of table spoons of beans. Instead of measuring the temperature of the water, I let the water boil in the kettle and then take it off the heat for 30 seconds or so. And I use Hinkley Springs water, rather than manufacture my own.
I also set limits for how much I would spend on equipment, focusing on value over absolute excellence. My Bodum grinder is OK, and will probably be replaced at some point, but I’m happy with my Hario pour over kettle, Origami dripper (which I found to result in a smoother taste than my original flat bottomed Blue Bottle dripper) and Blue Bottle glass carafe.
I tend to use Blue Bottle for my beans, because they tend to be fresh, and also because they offer a lot of variety in beans, as I like exploring different areas.
My freestyling approach will never reach the level of excellence of a true master, and will also never consistently result in the same cup of coffee every time, but I have to admit that’s part of my personality, and I enjoy the sense of curiosity leading up to that first sip, to see how it was different from the last cup I made. And so far, I’ve been happy with the results.
I think that being honestly happy with the results is the most important thing - with coffee, audio equipment, and many other hobbies.
That quote should be bookmarked LOL.
Yes, I came to that same realization with audio. I entered the hobby because I love music but got to the point where I seemed to be spending more time listening to equipment (comparing things to see if I could detect a percentage difference in sound quality) rather than music. With the world opening up again, I also realized that I was spending the equivalent of a nice vacation, and if I was happy with the level of quality of my equipment (which I am), I’d much rather go on an adventure somewhere in the world with my wife.
That’s not to say that I won’t continue to buy gear, but I’ve set myself limits, and my audio exploration is now focused on new experiences rather than trying to squeeze out fractions of extra sound quality.
Yes, happy with the results is fine. I’m blessed by being in an area where the water isn’t bad, especially after filtering. Except at work, a small community that has a different supply and with over-chlorinated water that still smells of
sulfur rotten egg. I bring water from home and/or commercial RO water for both coffee and plants in the office.
While I generally prefer to grind and brew when I have time, I don’t need to stand on ceremony all the time. There is a (gasp) Keurig for clients in the front, and it has an ice-coffee setting that is nice in summer, making strongish brew over ice in a cup. There is an old commercial Keurig in the back, which makes an OK cup with the right coffee, sometimes my own grind in an iFill pod. Two Pods set at 6 oz each for a mug of coffee. I don’t always have time for finesse.
If someone is scheduled who likes coffee, or if I’m in the mood, I use the Breville grind and brew, sometimes with a nice varietal bean from Trader Joes, or Kauai Coffee - often a peaberry or specialty brew - or the not over-roasted Kona or Balzac Blend from the Old Philadelphia Coffee Company.
It’s only on weekends that I tend to get fussy and make something special at home.
Basically, I just like coffee.
I am, of course, over doing the details, and getting very involved and manual with things - being of that nature generally … and this being something new.
After a particularly late, and wine-soaked, charity event the other night, and the ensuing “for fucks sake, someone, turn off the sun” entry into the following day, making two proper cups of pour over first-thing was not appealing.
My wife turned to the Nespresso and made a cup for herself there. Which immediately resulted in her commenting, “your coffee is much better than this” … and her sweetly batting her eyes at me to make her a real coffee …
It was at this point that it was decided we needed a drip machine for our upper floor.
My wife’s vision of this was simply to move our existing Mr. Coffee brewer (which is really only there for when we have guests and need to make several cups at once) upstairs.
My version … involved having one of these delivered, yesterday. No options or configurations (so you can’t adjust all the settings it like the Breville Precision Brewer or the Behmor Brazen Plus 3.0). Just put water, filter and coffee in … and press the button.
You can control the flow rate … and it makes a difference if I leave control closed there for the first 30-45 seconds, but it’s otherwise a very uncomplicated brewer. Love the look. Like the simplicity. Does a decent job … better than the Mr. Coffee or the Nespresso … but still clearly not pour over.