bicktrav Senior Member Joined: 4 Jan 2013 Posts: 3 Location: California Expertise: I love coffee
Posted Fri Jan 4, 2013, 2:40pm Subject: Bitter Coffee with my new Technivorm - Advice needed!
Been lurking for a while, but this is my first post. I got a Technivorm for the holidays and can't seem to be able to get it to make coffee the way I like. The first time I used it I was expecting to be blown away, but both my wife and I agreed it was underwhelming and unusually bitter. For reference, I'm used to coffee from Peet's; it's got a thick, syrupy consistency and an extremely rich, often chocolatey taste (at least with the beans I most prefer). The coffee I'm getting out of the Technivorm isn't living up the cups at Peet's, and I'm considering returning it and going back to my morning stop-at-the-coffee-shop routine. But I'd really like to try to get it right before throwing in the towel, so any help you can provide would be sincerely appreciated.
I'm using a gold filter, and I'm using 6 Technivorm scoops of pre-ground beans for each full 10 cup pot (that's the capacity of my Technivorm). I'm using cold filtered water, and I'm stirring the grounds in the initial stages of the brew. I get a good amount of resistance when I'm stirring, so I'm not sure the stirring is effective (I'm using the handle of a wooden spoon). I'm also keeping the drip closed for the first minute or so to saturate the grounds completely, then I'm opening it to half-way for thirty seconds before finally opening it to full for the remainder of the brew. I got all these instructions online (can't remember the source); it seems to be the optimal way to brew the coffee, but it still isn't tasting quite right. I should note that a major flaw in my methodology is that I am NOT using a good quality burr grinder. I have a Baratza Encore grinder on the way, but right now I'm still using a blade grinder. I know grind size can really affect taste, but I've also had the beans pre-ground at Peet's using their burr grinder and it has still not tasted quite right. What do you all think? What am I doing wrong here? I really want to get a rich, thick cup like they have at Peet's. Any advice?
bicktrav Senior Member Joined: 4 Jan 2013 Posts: 3 Location: California Expertise: I love coffee
Posted Sat Jan 5, 2013, 9:54am Subject: Re: Bitter Coffee with my new Technivorm - Advice needed!
Thank you for the help! I've increased the grounds to water ratio. I'm not totally familiar with using grams as a measurement; I've always used tablespoons. Nonetheless, I found somewhere online that the Technivorm scoop is equal to 10 grams of coffee. If that's true, then I had been using a ratio of 60 grams/40 fluid ounces of water (which is the capacity of the machine). I increased the ratio to 80 grams/40 fluid ounces. Turns out, that helped immensely in getting a thick, syrupy cup. So thank you for the suggestion! By the way, should the scoops be the grinds themselves or the pre-ground beans? I had been scooping the beans and then grinding, but perhaps I ought to grind first, then scoop? Does that matter? I'm still getting a little bit of bitterness in the brew, so I need to figure out why. I'm thinking it's gotta be grind-size, but I'm not totally sure. Maybe it's not a good idea to close the drip because flooding the grounds could lead to overextraction and bitterness. What do you think? Also, I measured the temperature of the machine during brewing and it peaked during the 5th minute at about 197 fahrenheit. The rest of the brew it was hovering around 195. I know the water is supposed to be around 200 for the best extraction. Does the temp of my brewer seem at all problematic?
Thanks so much for your help!
1) Use a paper filter. You can switch back to the metal later.
2) If it's still bitter, grind coarser.
3) If it still doesn't taste right, experiment with dose and grind. 60 grams per liter is a good start.
The Encore will make things better over time, you're already on the right track.
Stirring may be making it worse. Once you get it tasting good you can start stirring and preinfusing again.
frank828 Senior Member Joined: 23 Feb 2011 Posts: 581 Location: Los Angeles Expertise: Professional
Posted Sat Jan 5, 2013, 2:31pm Subject: Re: Bitter Coffee with my new Technivorm - Advice needed!
it's the beans.
Do you know when they were roasted? I usually wont use a roast that is older than a month(and that's pushing it) for my drip coffee. I would expect something mass produced like Peets coffee would be pretty old when you got it. Look for roast dates, not best-by dates.
when the coffee is preground it would be stale or in the process of becoming stale by the time you get home. Each passing moment, it will continue to stale much faster than if it were not preground. Think of a cut apple and what happens when you leave it out.
best advice to get the best out of your new technivorm is to invest in a decent burr grinder at home and purchase good freshly roasted coffee.
MJW Senior Member Joined: 25 Jul 2012 Posts: 179 Location: Silicon Valley Expertise: I love coffee
Posted Sat Jan 5, 2013, 5:34pm Subject: Re: Bitter Coffee with my new Technivorm - Advice needed!
You can measure the ground coffee, or the beans before grinding; it's more accurate to measure the ground coffee after grinding, because some coffee gets stuck in the grinder. Not a lot in the Encore, less than one gram.
It's more accurate to weigh the coffee, rather than measure by volume; on the other hand it's not necessary to get it exactly right.
I don't think closing the drip is doing any harm.
It's not easy measuring temperature, you have to think about the precision and accuracy of your measuring device, and exactly "where" you're measuring the temp. Is that the temp that should be 200*F? If the temp really is 5*F lower than it should be, then that would not cause bitterness.
twm Senior Member Joined: 15 Feb 2013 Posts: 3 Location: S. FL Expertise: I like coffee
Posted Fri Feb 15, 2013, 4:23pm Subject: Re: Bitter Coffee with my new Technivorm - Advice needed!
Like Bicktrav, I'm new to this. Been reading here off and on for a long time tho, got a capresso mt500 and a saeco titan grinder about 5-6 yrs ago, maybe 7, based on comments here, to get us on the road to better coffee and stay within our budget. Capresso just died so tried a breville you brew but think we got a lemon so it is going back. After all I read, the Technivorm seemed like the best choice for us now that the budget is a bit looser. I am hoping my grinder will hold us for a while and then look to upgrade next yr.
Only just got the technivorm and could not wait to try it, so rinsed it and did a half carafe using the oldest, stale, pre-ground supermarket starbucks italian roast that we had in the house and it was actually decent! Definitely can tell it is stale but no bitterness and no odd after taste like I got from the Breville. I have to believe it is the right amt of time and temp of the hot water through the bed of grounds. Considering I only used only 3 scoops, it was impressive - I watched the water go through and could see how it all bloomed very evenly and soaked through the bed of grounds. Being a chemical engineer, I like the ability to be a little more hands on - did not like the isolation of the breville.
Can't wait to grind some fresh (well somewhat fresher than the preground at least) beans in the morning! I used to measure out the beans before grinding, but bulk density is vastly different for beans compared to ground but don't have a scale accurate enough, so I would think it safest to measure the ground coffee. I guess a better scale is a good idea.
Posted Fri Feb 15, 2013, 5:01pm Subject: Re: Bitter Coffee with my new Technivorm - Advice needed!
It's good to know you are getting there.
Some folk claim they can detect a difference of a small fraction of a gram dose in espresso. I can't, so my tastebuds must not be the best test, but frankly, a small difference in dose in brewed coffee is - to me - neither here nor there. The exact coffee to water ratio isn't generally considered to immutable anyway, but if you find a ratio that suits you, then obviously you want to be able to repeat it with reasonable consistency.
I long ago stopped worrying about precision weighing coffee for brewed coffee, and these days measure it using a scoop. I work on as close to 60gm per litre as I can get easily and quickly. Brewed coffee normally accompanies my breakfast, and there are other things to be dealing with, like ensuring my egg is poached exactly as I want (I can be obsessive about some things ;o))
If you have the Technivorm scoop, a scoop of beans - shaken flat - is 10g. It might depend a bit on the size of the bean I guess, but try it out - in my experience it's surprisingly consistent. Six scoops is as close as it needs to be to 60gm.
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