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Discussions > Coffee > Machines > Troubleshooting...  
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BobJenkins
Senior Member


Joined: 27 Apr 2013
Posts: 2
Location: Australia
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Sat Apr 27, 2013, 11:24pm
Subject: Troubleshooting Pour Over Brewing
 

Hi all, I have read a bunch of posts and viewed Youtube videos and am unfortunately no closer to a delicious cup of pour-over coffee. My result basically tastes like I have really watered down a nice cup of coffee, ie really diluted. Obviously I could just add more ground coffee, but looking at the proportions I shouldn't need to, ie proportions should be right. Would appreciate any suggestions.

Current technique:

Boil a jug of water.

Put filter paper in a ceramic filter-cone, on a Hario carafe on scales

Run hot water through the filter paper, and warm up the filter-cone and carafe. Empty carafe.

Set the grinder (Mazzer) to 1 full number back from espresso grind (ie the consistency of sand) and grind 17g of Filter Roast coffee and put it in the filter.

Pour water in Buono kettle, until full,

When temp in Buono drops to 95deg, pour 60g of water onto the coffee with a light pour.

After 1 minute of elapsed time into the brew (including the initial pour), start another gentle pour, timed so that the extraction finishes at a total time of 2:30, with a total of 265g poured.

The result is:

  1. Very diluted tasting. (The main problem)
  2. Not bitter at all (Fine with this, just providing extra information)
  3. Somewhat sweet
  4. Ok aroma
  5. Slightly sour  (Also problematic)

Please take pity on me and give me some advice !!!!
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johnnyb3
Senior Member


Joined: 29 Mar 2010
Posts: 187
Location: Anaheim, CA
Expertise: I love coffee

Grinder: Baratza Maestro Plus refurb
Vac Pot: Bodum Santos
Drip: Chemex
Posted Sun Apr 28, 2013, 1:47am
Subject: Re: Troubleshooting Pour Over Brewing
 

I'd think that the sour taste might indicate underextraction. Do you mean that the total time, including the 60-second pre-infusion, is 2:30? That's about a minute shorter than I typically shoot for. While I'm not familiar with your grinder, my suggestion is to grind a little finer, so that the water drains a little more slowly. I agree that your proportions seem correct.
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squaremile
Senior Member


Joined: 6 Jan 2011
Posts: 84
Location: Portlandia
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Sun Apr 28, 2013, 8:11am
Subject: Re: Troubleshooting Pour Over Brewing
 

My first thought is to use 200 degree water, and also shorten the pre-infusion to 30s. I think you are probably getting under extracted coffee due to hear loss. You are starting with the coolest water that is advised and then letting it sit for too long in pre infusion. The time also is short if the 2:30 includes the pre infusion. Maybe try a pulse pour method to extend that out toward 3min.
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BobJenkins
Senior Member


Joined: 27 Apr 2013
Posts: 2
Location: Australia
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Wed May 1, 2013, 2:09am
Subject: Re: Troubleshooting Pour Over Brewing
 

So based on these posts I have tried extending the brew time to 3 mins, making the grind slightly finer (its most of the way to espresso grind now), and using slightly hotter water.

DEFINITELY more caffeinated.
The sour taste is basically gone
Overall tastes like a nice cup, but not great.
Main thing that has me still stumped is that all of the different flavours and nuances that I have experienced in cafes that make pour over aren't there, and the beans are professionally roasted COE, fresh and roasted for filter.

Is it really THAT hard to make a great cup using a pour over?
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Netphilosopher
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Jan 2011
Posts: 1,602
Location: USA
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Wed May 1, 2013, 4:48am
Subject: ...
 

...
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wabbitt
Senior Member
wabbitt
Joined: 2 Jan 2010
Posts: 137
Location: california
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: stovetop pots,aeropress
Grinder: skerton, SoloGrind
Drip: melitta cone, chemex
Posted Wed May 1, 2013, 6:17pm
Subject: Re: Troubleshooting Pour Over Brewing
 

Perhaps I missed it, I didn't see what coffee beans you're using.

A month ago I was drinking some stale coffee (bought in December) and no matter what I did with the water temp or grind, I kept getting a sour cup.  (My daily coffee is a pourover from a Melitta cone.)  Adding more coffee did make it better at first, but it still tasted sour by the end of the cup.  Everything got better once I moved on to new beans.
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DScottK
Senior Member


Joined: 5 Dec 2008
Posts: 19
Location: Towson, MD
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Wed May 1, 2013, 8:59pm
Subject: Re: Troubleshooting Pour Over Brewing
 

I have my own learning issues with pour-overs and am enjoying the advice people are providing, but you mentioned you had fresh roasted beans, I just wanted to elaborate on that.  Even high quality beans from Counter Culture Coffee for example at Fresh Market (gourmet grocery chain) have been sitting on the shelf for a couple of months.  If you're buying it from the roaster, then your most likely fine.  However, freshness and grocery stores when it comes to coffee don't mix.
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Netphilosopher
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Jan 2011
Posts: 1,602
Location: USA
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Thu May 2, 2013, 4:50am
Subject: ...
 

...
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jordasaurus
Senior Member


Joined: 26 May 2013
Posts: 3
Location: 1800masl
Expertise: I love coffee

Grinder: Baratza Encore
Drip: Beehouse & V60
Roaster: Whatever's fresh
Posted Sun May 26, 2013, 8:36pm
Subject: Re: Troubleshooting Pour Over Brewing
 

It's experimentation.  Changing one variable at a time until you know what factors cause what taste variations takes a lot of cups of coffee to perfect.  I mention it below, but I think this is a really great technique.  After wetting the filter, a spoon is used to brush some of the grounds up on the cone to ensure that all the grounds are wetted and encourages an even extraction-gradient throughout the brew process.  The logic is spot on.  Indeed the same logic is applied with VST baskets for espresso.

Some factors I've found follow.  

  1. Grind:
    • Unfortunately, it just takes a lot of different coffees to get a sense of what's right.  On my Baratza Encore, I'm at about 8 or 9 (out of some 24 settings), so just a little bit coarser than an espresso.  
    • Make very small adjustments based on the time and taste it takes to brew your cup.  
    • Don't change the grind and dosage/brew ratio simultaneously.  It's too difficult to parse out the differences.  
    • Even more difficult is changing the brew ratio and grind size as your brew larger quantities of coffee.  You should not have as fine a grind for 10oz of coffee as for 16oz.  Albeit the change should be minor, there's more coffee and therefore less need to soak more surface area (i.e. have a finer grind).  To compound the issue, your brew ratio should change (if only slightly) for a higher coffee yield (see below).  
    • If you're still getting a sour or bitter cup, brew ratio is likely to blame.

2. Dosage and Ratio:
  • For every gram of coffee I add 16g or mL.  I use 25g of coffee and 400mL (including pre-infusion/bloom/steep), which yields about 13oz of coffee.  
  • I go by taste more than time.  Although these two sometimes agree, a bitter cup is one that's over-extracted, either through too much water or too fine a grind.  A sour cup is under-extracted and either due to too little water or too coarse a grind.  Ethiopians drip really slowly where Sumatrans practically fall through the filter.  
  • A lot like the grind, brew ratios for larger yields should change.  Where a 10oz yield has a 15.75 ratio, a 16oz yield can have something as low as 13.85.  
  • Obviously different coffees have different acidity levels, which brew methods high light differently.  And then there are the wild cards.

3. Other stuff
  • Water.  There's a lot out there and whole threads dedicated to that.  It should be pure (I use Whole Food's machine purified for 40c a refill) and hot.  I generally let mine sit in the kettle for ~30sec after it boils.  So probably about 200-205 degrees.
  • Pre-infusion/bloom/steep.  5seconds, 15, 30, 45?  A rule of thumb that has worked for me is to change based on how fresh the coffee is.  I try to get through a 12oz bag of coffee within 2 weeks.  
    If the coffee is less than a week old, I'll pre-infuse for about 30-45 seconds.  As the coffee gets older I pre-infuse from 20-30 seconds.  Old coffee does not need to be degassed hardly at all.  I have noticed that long bloom times can radically change the character of coffee.  
    Generally I use about 40g of water to pre-infuse.  As long as the bed is thoroughly dosed.  
    This is something I learned at Four Barrel yesterday.  After wetting the filter, a spoon is used to brush some of the grounds up on the cone to ensure that all the grounds are wetted during pre-infusion and thus ensuring an even extraction gradient.  Getting the right oils from the grounds is essential!
  • Technique.  I generally stick to 1 inch semi-circles and pulses down the middle on both V60s and Beehouse Drippers.  A consistent and gentle stream is important.  Depending on your ceramic's brew yield, play around with how much water your pour after the pre-infusion.  For example with 25g of coffee, after I pre-infuse at 40g, I pour to about 185g, and then pour til I hit 400g.  
  • Store your coffee in an airtight jar out of light and heat.  

I hope this can be of use.  It has taken me so long to find the right combinations to make a superb cup.  The most important factors I've found are water quaity, pouring technique (steady, slow, and consistent!), and even extraction gradient.  The tweaking never ends, but you will get better at identifying which factors contribute to changes in taste.
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Lee_M
Senior Member
Lee_M
Joined: 2 Dec 2012
Posts: 51
Location: Los Angeles
Expertise: I live coffee

Grinder: Baratza Encore
Drip: V60
Roaster: Popper
Posted Mon May 27, 2013, 1:59pm
Subject: Re: Troubleshooting Pour Over Brewing
 

While I agree with most of what you say, there are a few things I disagree with or do not understand.

jordasaurus Said:

You should not have as fine a grind for 10oz of coffee as for 16oz.  Albeit the change should be minor, there's more coffee and therefore less need to soak more surface area (i.e. have a finer grind).

Posted May 26, 2013 link

Sometimes, yes, but altering bed geometry and/or water delivery rate can make it possible to brew larger amounts of coffee with a fine grind. If you adjusted your grind one notch coarser for every 6 oz of additional coffee brewed, you'd end up using a press pot grind for large batch brewers—which is obviously not the proper grind.

jordasaurus Said:

A lot like the grind, brew ratios for larger yields should change.  Where a 10oz yield has a 15.75 ratio, a 16oz yield can have something as low as 13.85.

Posted May 26, 2013 link

This I simply don't understand. Why?

jordasaurus Said:

Water.  There's a lot out there and whole threads dedicated to that.  It should be pure (I use Whole Food's machine purified for 40c a refill) and hot.  I generally let mine sit in the kettle for ~30sec after it boils.  So probably about 200-205 degrees.

Posted May 26, 2013 link

The rate at which water cools off the boil varies wildly depending on the amount of water boiled and the thermal properties of your kettle. In general, I have found that water in my kettle only loses 2 degrees per minute off the boil. Just use a freaking thermometer!

jordasaurus Said:

This is something I learned at Four Barrel yesterday.  After wetting the filter, a spoon is used to brush some of the grounds up on the cone to ensure that all the grounds are wetted during pre-infusion and thus ensuring an even extraction gradient.  ESSENTIAL!

Posted May 26, 2013 link

An interesting technique, but is it essential? I'm unaware of any empirical evidence that standard preinfusion techniques result in uneven wetting.


As for the OP's problem: If you remain unable to brew a satisfactory cup with fresh COE beans, even after experimenting with dose and grind, I would look into purchasing a non-espresso grinder for drip brewing.
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