OverCaffeinated Senior Member Joined: 7 Jun 2014 Posts: 15 Location: NYC Expertise: I love coffee
Posted Sat Jun 7, 2014, 8:42pm Subject: Re: Bunn Trifecta MB Owners' Thread
So the neighborhood coffee place used to use a Clover and now has switched to the Steampunk. The Clover is what really made me obsessed with coffee (the Steampunk does a great job, but I think the Clover wins the contest for me).
I love the acidity of coffee and I feel the Steampunk and Clover really do a great job bringing it out on certain beans. After reading the reviews online I finally decided to buy the Trifecta MB hoping the air agitation would somehow reproduce the bright and lively acidity I experienced on both of these machines.
After having the machine for about a month now, I will admit I am slightly disappointed. While this machine is definitely better than any other home coffee I have brewed (Aeropress, french press, vacpot, etc.), the results still are slightly "muddled" for me. I feel the Trifecta is great at bringing out the flavors of full bodied coffees, but is missing something at the other end of the spectrum.
What do others think? Am I missing something? Comparing apples and oranges? I try to brew on an "A" or a "B", but, while still a good tasting cup, it is still missing that brightness I get on the aforementioned machines.
Posted Sat Jun 7, 2014, 9:55pm Subject: Re: Bunn Trifecta MB Owners' Thread
It's hard to give specific advice without knowing your precise technique. But in general, acidity taste is maximized using the trifecta when you maximize the temperature and minimize the agitation. Surprisingly, the grind size impacts acidity less than you would expect using this brewer, because as long as you're using enough grounds to produce a strong enough flavor, the added pressure employed by the trifecta late in the cycle will act as a kind of equalizer. By that I mean that perhaps a third or more of the flavor is extracted in those last 10 or 15 seconds, with the deep penetration offsetting grind size differences. I have tried different grind sizes and noticed more of an impact on overall extraction rather than a shift in acidity. Having said that, others have tinkered with grind size to combat perceived bitterness--something I have not ever had issue with. Then again, I do take sugar in my coffee.
Getting back to temperature and agitation, you obviously get it as to the correct turbulence setting, so the next thing to verify is whether you're doing a water-only pre-cycle before every brew cycle to get all the components properly heated. That should make a significant difference in acidity extraction, let alone overall flavor extraction.
Assuming you're still doing everything on-point w.r.t. temperature and turbulence, we revisit the grind question. I don't have issues with lots of clogged filters, like several other frequent posters to this topic. My grind started out closer to road gravel, and then I tightened it up to slightly larger than drip grind. Well, that's my perception. But, since others may be grinding finer than me, it's possible you are, too, venturing into territory I'm unfamiliar with. It's possible that excessively fine grind negates strong acidity in the trifecta.
Timewise, I use 50 seconds. Volume varies from 8 to 12 oz., but I almost always do 12 oz. My result is always right on target, acidity-wise, and better than I can achieve using the CafeSolo. I have, however, outdone the acidity from my trifecta on occasion with a few very specific types of coffee, brewed in a Sowden SoftBrew. In those cases, the coffee was always a very chocolatey variety that hid hints of cherry or blueberry. When brewed at C agitation, it was not very complex, having just a hint of acidity. But when brewed in the SoftBrew, the overall flavor would be weaker, but contain a strong hit of the fruitiness--basically tart. This is because the technique I employ and the nature of the SoftBrew guarantees a steep temperature drop from just off boiling to sub-optimal.
So if your perception is that some systems bring out better acidity, it could actually be the result of similar odd variations in temp, from high to low, at just the right timing to emphasize the early acid extraction but deemphasize later non-acidity flavor extraction.
redkiosk Senior Member Joined: 13 May 2012 Posts: 237 Location: Chicago Metro Area Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: Illy Francis-Francis X1 Grinder: Baratza Preciso w/ Esatto... Vac Pot: Someday, very intriguing! Drip: Trifecta MB, Kalita Wave... Roaster: A sure path to divorce!
Posted Sun Jun 8, 2014, 4:23am Subject: Re: Bunn Trifecta MB Owners' Thread
I have to fully agree with Michael here. My learning curve with the Trifecta pretty much mimicked his until I found the correct grind. Once finding it (and with slight adjustments for different coffee) it's always spot-on. Spend a bit more time experimenting with your grind and brewing at the "B" setting and I think you will find your sweet-spot too. After cleaning my grinder, I make sure that I have my "cheaters" on when resetting the grind setting. If I'm off one notch from my usual setting on the Preciso, I can usually taste it in the first cup and go back to check the settings again. Hope this helps and take care!
The pathologically precise are annoying, but right!
Posted Sun Jun 8, 2014, 8:38am Subject: Could it be the water?
Howie, one more thing I just remembered...
You said the acidity was best on the Clover and Steampunk. I assume this was using the professionals' choice of water. You also say the result is better than you can get using a variety of manual techniques.
But when you say the result is muddled, compared to the "aforementioned machines", are you including your manual systems or just the two big professional ones... in which the water was not supplied by yourself?
Because if you have trouble achieving the desired brightness at home using any technique, the problem could be your water.
Posted Sun Jun 8, 2014, 8:49am Subject: Re: Bunn Trifecta MB Owners' Thread
...After cleaning my grinder, I make sure that I have my "cheaters" on when resetting the grind setting. If I'm off one notch from my usual setting on the Preciso, I can usually taste it in the first cup and go back to check the settings again. Hope this helps and take care!...
Jim, you're a better taster than I! Just a funny aside, I was trying out some new coffee in which the flavor profile was "papaya, dried mango, candied lemon, milk chocolate, walnut". Brewed it on B setting, tasted it, and yeccccchhhh! It tasted like tropical fruit punch! You know, like papaya, mango, citrus, oh right....
I now use the E setting on that particular coffee.
OverCaffeinated Senior Member Joined: 7 Jun 2014 Posts: 15 Location: NYC Expertise: I love coffee
Posted Sun Jun 8, 2014, 7:51pm Subject: Re: Bunn Trifecta MB Owners' Thread
You know, I feel kind of stupid because I've always been told you need to have good water to make good coffee. I've always assumed that my filtered NYC water was just fine for brewing, but to be honest I've never tested it! I will buy the test tomorrow and see what the results are. Just to compare today, I brewed the same coffee using my filtered water and then used Poland Spring natural spring water (even though the TDS for Poland Spring is most likely a little lower than ideal). The Poland Spring coffee tasted much, much better, which is clearly pointing that my filtered water is causing at least some of the problem. The brew with the Poland Spring water was much more clear and the flavors much more pronounced.
Thank you for the thought, as I have been focusing on everything other than the actual water!
I will provide updates later this week once I have had time to experiment a bit more..... Thanks again for everyone's responses.
Posted Sun Jun 8, 2014, 8:15pm Subject: Re: Bunn Trifecta MB Owners' Thread
Since you're on the hunt for better water, let me share something that was recently posted and frankly a revelation. It is possible that the acid buffering of water can have a major impact, as in subduing the acid content of a brew. The evidence from one respected professional points to the need to find a water that not only approaches 150 PPM TDS, but which has minimal buffering in the form of bicarbonate and/or chloride. And guess which waters have the most buffering? Natural artesian or ground water, because it picks up a ton of that stuff from the earth. Now guess what kind of water New York city tap water is. New York water is known to be some of the best tasting water for making pizza dough and bagel dough, etc., because of its high mineral content and high alkalinity and smoothness from running over lots of soil and rocks and acquiring a huge pH-balancing buffer that neutralizes acids.
Another thing I learned was that the best tasting coffee does not use the best tasting water. The two may in fact be somewhat opposing goals.
Anyway, stay away from Fiji Water and Evian. Try a few of the artificially mineralized waters, but if Poland Springs is a step up it probably tells you just how much more buffering stuff is in your own tap water.
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